With police forces and local authorities adding CCTV requirements to most licences many event organisers find themselves exploring CCTV for the first time. This article covers some of the advantages of deploying CCTV systems as part of our service highlights series.

The primary advantages of deploying CCTV at your event can be grouped into three main areas:

  1. Operational Control
  2. Security and Deterrence
  3. Attendee comfort


1.  Operational Control

CCTV systems provide invaluable, real-time visibility throughout an event enabling monitoring teams to:

  • Identifying bottlenecks and re-direct attendees away from or resources to specific areas
  • Direct security or first aid teams to problems and monitor if they require additional resource
  • Allowing operational staff to assess and react to incidents from a ‘birds eye’ view
  • Aid future planning in crowd dynamics and stage scheduling using replays of data after the event


2. Security and Deterrence 

The very presence of CCTV systems can act as a deterrent to would be criminals and trouble makers and allow:

  • Allowing fast identification and removal of criminals
  • Providing policing teams with clear evidence of behaviour for prosecution
  • Fast identification and removal of anti-social behaviour
  • Aid catching and prosecution of elements


3. Attendee Comfort

A psychological advantage of CCTV systems is one of perceived safety.  Attendees feel safer at large events when they know that CCTV cameras are securing an area especially those with children or who are new to events.


Photo of CCTV monitors

An Etherlive CCTV system


Contact our team now to find out how CCTV systems can give you the operational control and security your event requires.

All of the team here at Etherlive are excited about the challenges and opportunities 2013 will bring. As always, budgeting and planning are afoot in event organiser and production offices.

We’ve put together our list of technologies which we think will make a difference in 2013.

  1. The personal portal – Maximising the value of the smart devices carried by event attendees (60% of the UK population now own a smartphone) to deliver content will be critical. Events can use QR codes to link real world information to digital content.
  2. The smaller screen – Technology research company Gartner predict that more people will visit websites using a smart device rather than PCs for the first time in 2013. Is your site optimised for smaller screens? Is your ticket buying process as quick as it can be when using a smart device?
  3. Cashless paying technology – This has been talked about for many years, but now that real large sale deployments have become commonplace, it’s only a matter of time before event customers start looking for bars and concessions accepting either cashless cards or RFID wristbands; this is simply because the purchase will be quicker and the risks associated with carrying a lot of cash around will be negated. Those who leverage cashless will reap the rewards of attendees’ increased spends.
  4. The personal cloud – Services like Dropbox and iCloud allow photos and other content from smart devices to be instantly uploaded to secure online storage. With more and more data being uploaded to online storage services, cellular networks will be put under even more pressure during live shows to keep up with demand.
  5. Content re-use – More and more events will begin to re-use the content generated from speaker presentations or on stage shows (rights pending!) either for those who can’t attend and would like to buy a virtual ticket, or those interested in simply purchasing the content afterwards. If it can’t be sold directly, the content can be shared via social media throughout the year to keep the event in people’s minds.
2013 - A mountain to climb

2013 – A mountain to climb

Selecting a partner to provide networking services at your event is critical especially as more and more attendees rely on high quality connectivity to engage and interact. Our field teams regally work with in house IT teams to provide expertise and equipment. When agents and event organisers are surveying venues there are a few critical questions which should be asked:

1.    Does the in house IT team specialise in the events industry?
Being specialised will ensure their technicians are familiar with the events environment and the pressures that brings. It’s important that the IT partner appreciate how critical ensuring issues are dealt with quickly to keep the event moving.

2.    Does the in house IT team have the right equipment?
Equipment which is regally deployed in the field needs to be fit for purpose, from VOIP phones to WIFI PDQs everything needs to be configured in such a way it can be quickly deployed. Factoring in the British weather also adds an extra degree of excitement so using weatherproof hardware to deploy outdoor Wi-Fi Networks is of utmost importance. 

3.    Does the in house IT team have experience?
This expertise need to be specific to the type of event that’s being run.  Whether it’s a festival, exhibition or a conference it’s important the partner you choose has the experience of the events sector, as each environment raises it’s own challenges and every organiser has different expectations.  

To find out if we’re the right Event Technology company for you, get in touch

Since our last Gathering at Somerset House at the beginning of the year we have been keen to bring together a group of experts and corporate event organisers to discuss the latest experiences (good or bad) with technology at events. 

This led to the Breakfast Event Technology Form which was held at the Guoman Cumberland Hotel with a group of 25 select attendees sitting discussing some key industry topics over a bacon role and cups of tea. We captured some brief notes from the discussions and links to the tools shown below. To keep the discussion about technology in events going we aim to keep the twitter hashtag #eventtechforum

Venue expectations:

  • A key element is appreciating the requirements from the customer. Why do they need the internet? Just basic email and web browsing? Cloud content sharing? Or streaming video? All these questions will drive the requirement with the venue.
  • A pre survey with relevant testing hardware (with the same laptops which will be used if possible) to see what the Wi-Fi signal is like and how fast the internet is.
  • Agree terms with the venue which specify what performance you need per device connected
  • Discuss what happens if something breaks, if it’s critical to your event would you want an engineer to attend?
  • Use cable drops for those who require service for demonstrations to reduce the risks. This should be part of the booking contract.
  • If required bring in an expert (in house IT teams or companies such as Etherlive) to give some advice on how to improve the onsite facilities if you need to. If budgets are tight look at the entire budget based on how important the internet services are

Etherlive Breakfast Event Technology Forum

Avoid getting bitten by IT

  • Many organisers get caught in the same trap – lack of understanding about what the event is trying to achieve, and thus fail to set appropriate expectations for services. 
  • Ensure you have resource to hand should you need ‘IT’ type support. If budgets don’t allow perhaps one of the in house IT team may be able to support, or perhaps bring in an engineer just for the morning or during the critical presentation.
  • Spend time identifying key points of failure and plan for a redundancy. Just like any risk at an event this should be presented to the customer with options of what can be done to mitigate.
  • Be aware that some devices (laptops, smartphones) will work differently with Wi-Fi due to the quality of design and parts. Interference (such as human bodies and other radio based systems) may also impact Wi-Fi service.


  • Many events do not set a specific budget line item for technology services, however, many now think this should be a mandatory line item even if the Wi-Fi services are included within the day delegate rate
  • A good partner will be able to explain their pricing to organisers. If they can’t it may be overly complicated or at worse not considered. Technology can be complicated but the basic principles are simple to explain and present
  • Generally the elements that drive cost the most are connectivity and resource. Connectivity generally gets more expensive the later it is booked. Resource costs can often be optimised with setting up on the same day (perhaps avoiding accommodation etc.)

Innovation panel

  • Use social media to engage audiences and encourage those not in the room to join in furthering the events exposure and inclusiveness
  • Apps deliver content in a very set environment but other options, such as customised websites, can deliver similar content with reduced budgets. Consider what will happen to the content the delegate is looking at if connectivity is lost.
  • Free cloud services such as Google Documents can be used to share content including spread sheets, documents etc. allowing multiple editing, different rights and version tracking



In summary a fantastic day to network, meet new contacts and learn. We hope to run similar sessions again in the New Year for others who could not attend this time.


There is one thing that can challenge even the best designed wireless networks; interference. That is, the transmission of competing networks attempting to broadcast at the same time on the same frequency. At the risk of turning this blog into to a science paper we’ll keep it light, but it is interesting to note that we have been in several meetings over the past few weeks where the delivery of Wi-Fi networks has been challenging due to the amount of interference.

As venues and events deploy wireless networks that become ever more critical to delegates, press, production and exhibitors, interference is the elephant in the room. Managing rogue access points, or those using their own solutions is imperative in reducing interference, and ensuring that those who are trying to use Wi-Fi networks in the same place can do so.

Understanding the limitations

Wi-Fi technology is designed to communicate over a number of common frequencies. This allows smartphones, laptops and other client devices to know how to communicate with access points and each other. Within this frequency there are a defined number of channels, similar to the number of lanes on a motorway. The more channels or lanes you have, the more simultaneous networks you can have in operation. 2.4G Hz Wi-Fi networks have significantly less channels than 5GHz networks.

Spectrum Crusaders

The spectrum crusaders ride to their next rogue access point

Setting expectations

Just like expectations on stand power (i.e. would exhibitors expect to bring their own petrol generator into an indoor venue?), there should be guidelines for use of wireless technology. Those who do not follow the rules should appreciate that their equipment may be turned off since their configuration could potentially impact those around them trying to access and fully utilise the ‘in house’ Wi-Fi. This can be as simple as a form which is completed as part of the contract which asks a few simple questions about which channel their wireless equipment will be broadcasting from.

Watching the air & taking action

Once the expectations have been set, wireless scanners can be used to ensure the agreements are being followed and that those who are causing interference are located. In areas where others are complaining about service, it will be quickly evident who isn’t playing fair. This was carried out during the Olympics and was commonly accepted by exhibitors because the expectations had been set.

One wire to rule them all

Many venues would also suggest that exhibitors who need a ‘guaranteed’ service should have a wired connection and that is absolutely correct. In addition to interference, some wireless chips are better than others and some devices just have bad days, so if the device supports a cable and it’s practical to do so, then this is highly advised. However, as more and more demonstrations rely on tablet computers (especially with the new Microsoft Surface launch), wireless will be considered critical to some stands.

As the summer of sport runs into the sunset suddenly the September of phones is upon us. Two big announcements means this is a really important month (and quarter) for a technology which has become intrinsic to either attending or producing events.

4G is Go? – Wait and See

After more manoeuvring than a telehandler placing toilets (see our previous blog posts) 4G services will finally begin deploying in the UK. The first to market will be Everything Everywhere (a combination of the Orange and T-Mobile networks) which announced on Tuesday networks firing up in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol within weeks with more cities expected to follow before Christmas. Long Term Evolution (or LTE) brings a number of significant improvements over current 3G networks including download speeds of up to 20Mbps, improved algorithms for handoff between mobile cells (which should mean less dropped calls) and in some cases larger cell sizes meaning better coverage.

It all sounds great, however, there should always be a note of caution when dealing with cellular services which is probably best expressed by matching todays “3G” experience with what happens in the real world. Do you live in a world where your handset always has 3G signal, you haven’t dropped a call in months, data use is reliable, network masts never fail and when you are trying to text or call the box office during a live event with 20,000 other people on site it works first time? – The answer is carriers always sell the dream of the next generation; 4G is exactly the same. In reality what you should expect to start with is what was promised for 3G, meaning OK to good data speeds in cities and calls which rarely drop. Also lest we forget 4G, like 3G before it, is a consumer focussed technology offering which means very little in the way of speed guarantees or service up time.

Pocket-lint.com shows the new iPhone enjoying 4G speeds

Of course unfortunately for events the same problems around delivering reliable service to a remote location with high density usage will continue to be a challenge – not helped by the next big thing in cellular this month…

iPhone 5 – A monster awakes.

You can’t have missed the press, Apple’s latest iPhone 5 was announced last night. Those in the know will point out that even with this latest incarnation Apples crown has slipped slightly with handsets from Samsung and Blackberry winning in the specification war but that’s missing two crucial factors which need to be considered when dealing with anything from Cupertino. The first is the tidal surge of press and activity that follows anything iNew generating floods of new apps and ways to use the device, many of which rely on the iPhones killer selling point; the lack of learning curve. The second is the new technology which is bound up in this latest generation which includes the ability to operate with the new 4G networks, a new screen to show that high definition content even clearer (which means larger network downloads and faster streams required) and an all new software pack which further integrates social networking and always on connectivity. In addition Apple has given the iPhone one of the best features of the iPad which is its ability to work on both 2.4Ghz networks and 5Ghz which makes getting a good Wi-Fi signal, and keeping it, even easier.

That reliance on faster and always on connectivity will continue to keep demand growing for events who can deliver apps which enjoy video and interactive content at events.

Where Apple has missed a trick perhaps is the lack of contactless payment function others (such as Samsung and Blackberry) have started to deploy this latest technology which will put pressure on retailers of all sorts to start supporting the quick payment method. Apple is probably waiting for the market to settle before setting out it’s stall (and – knowing Apple – where it’s revenue stream is going to come from) but those early adopters will expect to be using their contactless payment methods this summer – we have another blog in a few weeks on this and our activity over the summer.

A great article this week in Exhibition News (Flick of the wrist, page 34) discusses how RFID continues to gain traction in the events market.

The power of being able to process transactions in a single swipe is huge. Just look at the success of systems such as Oyster cards and festivals, which deployed RFID this year, and have seen tangible (up to 20 per cent per attendee) increases in revenue. The article focused on how RFID technology has reached a stage of maturity and that systems can be used for additional functions such as; access control, catering, and social media check-ins, all of which means RFID technology is here to stay.

In addition to several RFID cashless deployments we had great success with WOMAD festival this year using a combination of barcoded wristbands and a pre-event registration website for teenage ticket holders to facilitate the quick and secure  lookup of their parent or guardians details if the teenager required assistance

RFID Wristbands


However when considering RFID deployments, event organisers should think about the complete solution in order to maximise the efficiency of the use of this technology. Here are our top three things to consider:

1. An integrated strategy: RFID technology has been around for a long time. Although making it “work” on site can be challenging but is achievable. However the main challenge is preparing for how the system will be used at the event for example: who can use it, where it can be used, staff training, on-site administration, etc. Key elements to think about include, how those who want to use the system on site will be able to register and use it securely ;how users will be able to link their details with their accounts; how much will be allowed per transaction? and finally, what can be done if cards or wristbands get lost and how does someone get a refund.

2. A banking partner: Holding funds, transferring money, setting up direct debit functions is not something to be undertaken lightly and needs a partner with experience who knows how to think ‘banking’ (it’s a very different mind-set!) However the funds are managed it will need to be done by properly approved bodies with the relevant financial certification.

3. A reliable site network: The amount of technology behind a cashless RFID system on site should not be under called. It is essential that a system is deployed which factors in the reliability required with the appropriate redundancy at its core to ensure loss of power or a damaged cable does not stop the entire service.

With these items considered RFID systems area ready to light up the events industry and bring with them an enhanced attendee experience and increased revenue.

After seeing several tweets on the subject, I read and thoroughly enjoyed the blogs by Heidi Williams (original post) and ConnectEvents (original post) about the price and quality of wireless networks within the events industry.

Their points are exactly the types of discussions which have been going on in the AEO/AEV/ESSA Technical Committee since its inception. The same themes came out in the first brainstorm session; how can the industry deliver a ‘no cost’ experience to some whilst recouping the investment costs and on-going service? Should it deliver a no cost option? How do the suppliers within the industry educate customers about what they are getting and paying for?

The ConnectEvents blog highlights how they have been so disappointed with their experiences they have explored and successfully delivered their own solution by using Mi-Fi devices (we recommended them in our April article “Tips to keep running during the 2012 games”,  as a fantastic solution for teams on the road). By having a customer deploy this solution, the industry is seeing the results of poor communication and expectations which is resulting in a poorer solution for the end customer. Though ConnectEvents have had success with using several individual Mi-Fi units it is important to realise that this approach will actually exacerbate the issue by generating even more Wi-Fi interference within the hall. Increased interference will impact those still trying to join the ‘managed’ central network and so they in turn may switch to buying Mi-Fi devices which in turn will generate more interference which eventually means no one will be able to use any wireless (Mi-Fi or anything else) at all!

A further consideration is that whilst signal strength may be good in London from the Mi-Fi provider (3G providers such as Vodafone, 3UK etc), the actual amount of internet bandwidth behind that service will continue to decrease as more people use it. Outside of strong 3G signal areas, obviously service will be poor.

I recently gave a presentation at the HBAA Forum in Wembley and the comments from the audience echoed what Heidi and ConnectEvents are articulating – that we as suppliers and venues need to start with some simple steps:

Education – Customer need to understand what they are actually paying for; it is very frustrating to pay significant amounts of money for connectivity when most of us enjoy reasonable service at home for tens of pounds per month. Education is critical; customers appreciate why power charges at events are more than at home and that expectation is because power, i.e. the provision of generators, is relatively obvious (someone puts it close by and it rumbles away, engineers are around etc), so exhibitors can easily appreciate the elements.  Because IT tends to be smaller bits of kit behind the scenes, the perception is it’s either very simple or just complete black magic.

Bring differential services to market – Venues should be offering a free service to customers; perhaps it’s time limited and limited to the amount of connectivity speed available. For this, perhaps marketing information is captured? Or sponsor branding is viewed? With the right speed expectations, customers will at least appreciate other options are available. They can then be given a sell-up opportunity to buy time. Those who need service for critical elements, such as demonstrations, with engineers on call should expect to pay more.

We continue to work with the AEO/AEV/ESSA Technical Committee as to how best to approach these points from an industry perspective but in the meantime use our own blog and press relations to educate and encourage discussion on technology within the events industry.