The Wait is Over

High-tech contactless smart card solution eliminates attendees standing in line at IT-focused conference

NOW in its eighth year, Citrix® iForumTM Global -- held Oct. 9-12, 2005, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas -- brought together current and potential Citrix customers, resellers and partners from across the globe, and focused on on-demand access and the new IT reality fueling business efficiency and growth. The conference included well-known industry speakers, roundtable discussions and product demonstrations, as well as sessions covering business and technical topics.

When the Citrix iForum event team was seeking a reliable, secure system to check-in and process more than 3,500 attendees without any significant lines or wait time, Kathy Waring, senior manager of corporate events for Citrix, knew she needed an innovative solution. Waring asked for help from G2Planet, which supplies event management software solutions for Citrix and other corporations seeking improvements to business processes at corporate events.

Manual systems also had been used for promotions and other exhibit hall events, but these systems required the cumbersome routine of hand stamps, physical cards, and collection and processing of paperwork on the back end.

"We're a company that is proud to be on the cutting edge of access infrastructure technology with our own products, and we look to our vendors to have the same philosophy," Waring said.

G2Planet, a provider of enterprise software and wireless communication solutions, delivers ROI through innovative solutions based on pioneering mobile, wireless and Web technology. Mark Granovsky, president and CEO of G2Planet, realized that an integrated solution provided by his company's software and HID's iCLASS® contactless smart cards and readers were the perfect fit.

The Citrix iForum environment presented typical event challenges such as reducing bottlenecks for attendees upon initial onsite registration and entering sessions. Previously, Citrix used a magnetic-stripe card system, which took significant time. Manual systems also had been used for promotions and other exhibit hall events, but these systems required the cumbersome routine of hand stamps, physical cards, and collection and processing of paperwork on the back end. With the contactless access card system, entries are submitted and processed with the wave of a badge, offering a hassle-free solution.

Contactless Offers Significant Improvement
A uniquely flexible solution, the integrated contactless smart card system was used for onsite registration badge printing. Twenty workstations connected to three Citrix servers were located at attendee sign-in. Attendees could view and approve their badges, and when completed, attendees submitted their badges for customized printing, with information including name and company name.

Ten Datacard printers located at the registration desk encoded the badges, with the entire process of customizing badges taking only seconds. This offered a significant improvement over using a traditional contact chip, where encoding and printing could take several minutes.

Furthermore, 10 plasma screens displayed the location of where the person's badge was being printed and when it was ready for pickup. Custom-printed, two-sided badges featured four-color artwork including highlighted sponsors on the back. Each badge included an encoded iCLASS chip with information specific to each attendee that also was then stored in a database.

Feedback from attendees underscored the convenience of the system. There were virtually no lines at registration, and the process to get a badge and conference materials took an average of only two to three minutes.

Brian Madden, industry analyst and author, recognizes the value of the contactless access card system.

"There's a ton of cool technologies in use at iForum...The attendee badges are all HID iCLASS RFID cards. Therefore, when entering sessions, all you have to do is place your badge near the reader, and the reader then confirms your attendance," he said Brian Madden. "Also, they have RF card readers attached to all of the public Internet terminals. You simply place your badge near the reader to log on."

A key benefit for event sponsors is that this system has dramatically improved lead quality and survey responses. Previously, surveys were done on paper with low response rates. Now, event management is able to send customized surveys directed at attendees who were tracked as having attended specific sessions. iCLASS RW400 readers were set up at each session and breakout room. Attendees' badges were read by readers at each session, providing information on who attended the sessions to the speakers and event management.

Waring said survey responses have increased because of the streamlined system. When attendees log in at the event or session, the session surveys are automatically generated, the data is automatically stored in the database and event management can access a report in any shape or form.

"This type of lead-capture technology can really increase the impact of our event marketing programs," Waring said.

Secure, Convenient Solutions
Building on its strengths for applications such as access control, IT secure authentication, digital cash, the storage of biometric templates, and the storage and retrieval of critical information, contactless smart card technology is increasingly being used to support event management infrastructure.

Why did G2Planet get interested in the RFID environment? Granovsky said his company sees the future of this technology enabling more and more crypto-enabled "speed pass" types of applications and views it as a strategic opportunity to expand the use of the event's badge.

The G2Planet/HID solution also was deployed at a recent MatrixOne® event, featuring a cyber cafe with Internet access and G2Planet's MyEvent! personalized event planning and social networking Web site. Attendees accessed the cyber cafe with their badges to sign in.

The implementation also included an innovative attendee participation program, called eAuction, which also was based on the iCLASS attendee badge. Attendees could earn eAuction points as they visited exhibitor booths and attended certain seminars and activities. Throughout the day, attendees could go back to the MyEvent! Web site, where they could bid on vendor-sponsored consumer items.

Security Professionals Turn to Access Control
Bill Rutledge, program manager for SourceMedia Conferences & Expositions, runs the annual CardTech/SecurTech conference and has successfully been using technology cards for 15 years. And, Rutledge and his team know a thing or two about security.

CTST is America's largest advanced card and biometrics conference, covering secure transaction technology, contactless cards and IT/physical access security convergence. More than 3,500 delegates and 200 exhibiting companies attended CTST in April 2005.

CTST management primarily uses contact and contactless card systems for lead retrieval information, as well as tracking session attendance and providing complimentary benefits to session attendees. Rutledge said the key benefits for his attendees and exhibitors are that it speeds up check-in, enables post-show material distribution for session attendees and delivers faster lead retrieval versus the bar-code method.

Contactless technology systems provide enhanced security, interactivity and real-time data access, as well as advanced qualification methods. Therefore, demands for contactless technology systems are growing, and solution providers will continue to develop applications that maximize value to events and large gatherings.

"While working with leading developers, integrators and event managers, we can really see the unlimited possibilities to leverage this technology and to deliver real-world convenience and security for tradeshows and large events," said Holly Sacks, HID's executive vice president of marketing.

Waring agrees and can see a bright future for contactless technology.

"There's no turning back now," Waring said. "Citrix plans to incorporate expanded contactless access control solutions in more events, and we'll be actively working with G2Planet and HID to create innovative applications that optimize the technology's benefits and enhance the event experience for attendees, exhibitors and management alike."

This article originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of Security Products, pg. 22.


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