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INDUSTRY 39 making a ConneCtionaeV chair Kathryn James discloses some of the surprising findings from the second meeting of the cross-association Connectivity technical Committee and outlines how things will move forwardncreased connectivity is great for events and exhibitions because it boosts interactivity and makes everything and everyone much more accessible. However, there is a downside. Unlike a recent TV ad boasting that a domestic Wi-Fi service can be shared by three flatmates, thousands of people arriving at an event, all trying to get full connectivity, puts a lot of pressure on the network infrastructure. This becomes an issue for organisers. There is finite bandwidth available, and sometimes it's only apparent this isn't enough once the event gets underway.The Connectivity Working Group first met in 2011 to discuss Wi-Fi provisioning. It soon became clear this wasn't a single problem with a single solution. Each association agreed to an assessment of its piece of the jigsaw.The group met again at the Event Production Show on 2 February, and each reported back with the findings of its research. This helped the working group realise just how many variables there are - from the technologies that AEV members' venues have and their intentions to upgrade, through to the size of events, whether they are indoor or outdoor, and the needs and expectations of people attending the event.While it's impossible to define exactly what everyone will bring to or take out There are also things exhibitors unknowingly bring into a show that can cause interference with Wi-Fi services such as microwaves, coils of cable, cameras or wireless microphones.The next step is to use the research we already have to understand the issues and to help the different communities using the venues become more aware of the implications of Wi-Fi. While visitors may have fairly simple requirements, if exhibitors are trying to run all their kit through the venue's Wi-Fi, as well as other non-Wi-Fi equipment, this just puts too great a burden on the system. Individuals need to be able to see how this affects the rest of the community at the event. The working group needs to identify and develop common terms and translate these into simple language. This will create something akin to a Wi-Fi version of the eGuide and help all users get the best from the connectivity.At any event or exhibition there are lots of variables between and within events - that's the nature of the industry. Working group members are enthusiastic about uniting as a team to put together the puzzle in the best possible way and improve connectivity for everyone.- Kathryn James is chair of the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the MD of The NEC. IWe need to create something akin to a Wi-Fi version of the eGuideof a show, the working group realised getting a general idea of what people will want and need will allow it to start to plan and manage possible solutions.Clearly, venues wanted to participate and this resulted in a 50 per cent response rate to the AEV survey. Some headline statistics from the research proved to be enlightening. For example, respondents all offered fixed Wi-Fi connectivity. Of these, 50 per cent ran Wi-Fi in-house, 15 per cent outsource it and the remainder have a mixed model. Wi-Fi in 100 per cent of responding venues covered public areas; 90 per cent covered in-hall (saleable space) and 75 per cent covered corporate offices. Wi-Fi usage breaks down into: 100 per cent for guest access; 90 per cent for exhibitor/organiser access and 60 per cent for corporate services such as electronic POS, ticketing and telephony. This starts to demonstrate the complexity.Organisers' research showed visitors mostly want access for email checking, browsing, and perhaps access to apps created for the event. In contrast, exhibitors may have interactive iPad apps as part of their exhibits, a need to show streaming video, have to run tills or EPOS equipment, or want to capture data from visitors wirelessly and send it straight back to the office. Some organisers might also host event-specific apps or provide online visitor and exhibitor services.

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