Rethinking crowd safety

David Fortini
July 02, 2018

Revolutionizing the Public Venue Experience with Location-Based Services

Evolving as a smart city requires a range of considerations. As cities around the world consider new capabilities and technologies on the road to becoming smart cities, often the safety of citizens and visitors is a key concern. These days, safety isn’t just about increased manpower. Technologies like Location-Based Services (LBS) can enhance the role of safety, but often the broader benefits and infrastructure required are overlooked by the government industry.

Location-Based Services are generating useful data about citizen’s needs and behaviors that helps government authorities enhance the delivery of city services, keep people safer and more informed, and improve overall quality of life. Public venues are increasingly interested in offering comprehensive indoor location-based services services like wayfinding, location-based notifications, and analytics; however, in order to do so the venue must be equipped with reliable, scalable, and efficient Wi-Fi.

Making today’s cities even smarter
Real-time geographical data collected from smart devices is increasingly being used to push helpful information and relevant suggestions to users based on their exact location. The data from these Location-Based Services applications is quickly becoming as important to city authorities as demographics and data analytics, and all three are coming together to provide city authorities with better insight into the needs of their citizens. By targeting the right people, at the right time, and in the right place, city authorities can improve quality of life for their constituents, bolster city branding efforts, and streamline city planning activities. Whether tracking individuals, guiding tourists, or helping to identify crime, Location-Based Services are becoming increasingly correlated with data analytics to provide better information, entertainment, and security services to citizens.

Large public venues function much like miniature cities themselves, so many are interested in leveraging indoor location services to enhance operations, open new revenue streams, and increase the safety and satisfaction of visitors. However, public venue operators often experience a number of challenges in terms of both network infrastructure and technical expertise when implementing Location-Based Services. Events in these venues are often densely populated, and it can be difficult to implement an efficient network infrastructure that handles oversaturation due to too many people attempting to access the network simultaneously. There is also the issue of accurately tracking the exact location of attendees, which can be particularly helpful for determining traffic flow and preparing for emergencies. Real-time information can be invaluable in helping authorities promptly identify when and where an emergency has occurred, effectively deploy security and triage personnel to the areas of need, and ensure minimal impact to attendees.

Woman cheering in stadium

Proven network performance that enhances safety and convenience
Imagine you’re attending a sold-out concert when suddenly an emergency arises, such as a fire or terrorist attack. The crowd panics and starts to flee, and in the frantic search for the nearest exit, people are pushed, shoved, and even trampled. In the mayhem, you become separated from your family or friends. If the venue was outfitted with reliable Wi-Fi and offered a mobile app which leveraged Location-Based Services, you would be alerted as soon as the problem occurred and quickly directed to the nearest and safest exit. With geofencing alerts you would be able to gain visibility of where your friends are located to ensure your entire group safely exits the event. These location-based services would make the overall experience safer, more intuitive, and more efficient.

Our enterprise-grade portfolio of network infrastructure and Location-Based Services offerings is empowering venue operators to gain insightful analytics to enhance decision-making, broaden their array of services, and enhance attendee safety and satisfaction. For example, we recently partnered with the City of Fukuoka in Japan to implement free Wi-Fi in their convention facilities, in a joint effort to make the city a more attractive destination for large meetings, conferences, and exhibitions. The Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise solution, comprised of the Alcatel-Lucent OmniVista® 3600 Air Manager, ClearPass Policy Manager, Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess® WLAN Controllers and Access Points, with support from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Professional Services, simplifies wireless management and the ability to collect data on visitor behavior. By delivering a quality, scalable Wi-Fi user experience, even during large-scale and high-traffic events like conventions, the city can cost-effectively meet its growth objectives and enhance convenience, flexibility, and mobility for convention participants.

Businessmen on mobile phones in convention center

Providing valuable Indoor location services in public venues requires a reliable Wi-Fi
In order to offer a valuable set of indoor location services, it is essential that public venues provide reliable, scalable, and efficient Wi-Fi capabilities even during the most densely-populated events. The architecture control is an important consideration when choosing your Wi-Fi solution. The Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess Stellar WLAN is enabled by a distributed control Wi-Fi architecture which virtualizes the controller, allowing it to be deployed and run in a distributed way within the access points (APs) themselves with coordinated intelligence. Using a virtual controller allows the network to run faster and more efficiently with no latency, and counteracts failures such as the loss of an AP, cable, or switch. Many venue operators also struggle with the high cost of the technical infrastructure to accommodate large surges of usage during events, which can be hard to justify when the network goes unused most of the time. However, Wi-Fi capabilities can now be structured as flexible pay-as-you-go consumption models, allowing public venues to pay only for the Wi-Fi they use in an effort to control costs.

With a reliable and efficient wireless network from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise in place, public venues can more easily offer valuable indoor location services to their event attendees, increasing their access to information that is contextualized, targeted, and highly relevant. For attendees, indoor positioning capabilities turn any smartphone into an indoor GPS device, offering helpful services like friend finders, remember my parking spot, social sharing for a point of interest, wayfinding or turn-by-turn navigation. Geofencing alerts can be issued when a user is either approaching or leaving a predefined zone, and can be used to help attendees identify the nearest exit in case of emergency or for marketing purposes. Integrated analytics can also provide insight that helps venue operators analyze the behavior of their visitors, measure the impact of marketing campaigns, improve traffic flow, and optimize space.

Location-Based Services are becoming a vital capability for today’s smart cities, and public venues can leverage these services to improve their response to emergency situations and drive overall visitor satisfaction. Our comprehensive, enterprise-grade solution portfolio allows large venues to leverage the convenience of just one partner to provide the reliable wireless coverage and Location-Based Services that today’s customers demand. To learn more about how Location-Based Services can revolutionize your public venue experience, please visit our Government Solutions webpage, or feel free to follow us on Twitter at @ALUEnterprise and on our LinkedIn page.

David Fortini

David Fortini

Director of Business Development, Government

Dave is currently the Director of Business Development for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s Network Division. He is responsible for the business development of ALE’s Government Vertical associated with their Enterprise Network Portfolio.

David is a Computer Science graduate of Pennsylvania State University and also possesses a Masters in Computer Science at George Mason University. He also has a Master Certificate in Information Technology Project Management from George Washington University.

About the author

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