“The Internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.” — Eric Schmidt, Google chairman.
A major technological evolution struck mankind when the Internet was first introduced 40 years ago. Like the century old tree that spreads its roots both deep and wide, such has been the impact of internet in each of our lives, entangling villages, towns, cities, provinces and even entire nations in a mesh that is a genuine ‘web’. Since 2015 there has been a similar buzz with the introduction of a concept known as the Internet of Things or IoT. Today IoT extends from Smart Homes to wearables to Retail, Healthcare and much more.
Few real life popular products include the Smart Thermostat which works with the Air conditioner and automatically adjusts the room temperature, Remote Lighting which allows the user to control the switches through their mobile device, controlling your Home with your voice (the concept around which Amazon Echo is built) or the Air Quality Egg (that can be made from DIY sensors) which brilliantly detects traces of CO and NO2 within the Home environment. In Retail for example one of the biggest challenges is inventory and merchandising management.
Using the smart retail solution the industry is now able to collect important consumer data, set up alerts and avoid manual errors thereby increasing ROI. Take a look at Healthcare, especially Elderly care, where IoT applications through wearables help in the early detection of cardiac and other organ failures and also create alerts in case of any accidental fall detections.
Here’s the thing. IoT will basically allow you to plug in different devices and remotely manage them. At the same time multiple devices communicate with each other and collect data which can be analysed and shared globally. So why not use it in the universe of Event Management? In fact there are and could be so many different areas of application that we decided to dedicate this write up for IoT and its possibilities in the Event industry.
Let’s start by thinking of the very basics and convert simple requisites to something more sophisticated using technology.
Parking lot at the event venue
What about it? Imagine hundreds of people swarming in to your tradeshow. Introduce them to a Smart Parking solution which would enable easy detection of available parking spaces. This has already begun in bigger cities and is one of the most helpful real time IoT applications.
IoT in Attendee Management
One of the biggest concerns for an event organizer is to keep his or her attendees happy and ensure their registration process takes place hassle free. Also to be able to track how many RSVPd and how many actually showed up, etc. Thanks to event management apps such as Eventdex we are now getting past the long waiting queues for event registration/ticketing. With IoT in place, event technology is becoming more and more paperless. That means an easier check in process, no registration sign-up sheets, instant payments and ease of data collection.
Whether you scan RFID (Radio frequency identification) wristbands, tickets or badges, you are now able to tap into every single attendee. Through IoT applications like beacon technology, push notifications can also be sent to user’s mobile devices prompting them to move on to badge collection counters or payment counters.
At the same time one can place Smartposters of products/services at every booth such that users can tap with their smartphones and get further information on a product (through Near Field Communication or NFC technology). NFC readers/writers enables an NFC enabled device like a smartphone to read the NFC tags embedded on the smartposters and access a bunch of readable (and sometimes writable) data.
Tracking Floor Traffic and attendee movement
This is by far one of the most innovative uses of IoT. With the use of a simple RF Mat placed at the entrance of your event (yes a floor mat!!), it is possible to inconspicuously and efficiently track attendee traffic. Combining this with Beacons and Bluetooth from your attendees mobile devices, one can also guide a user to the event floor plan, respective exhibitor booths allowing them faster venue navigation. In conferences that involve buyer-seller meetings it is also possible to utilize iBeacons to locate prospects in a gathering of thousands. Check out apps like Findmyleads to see how you can achieve this.
I stumbled upon an article that interestingly posed a theoretical scenario whereby you could connect IoT even to coffee machines and automated check-out stations. Once again by using RFID technology you could logically figure out which food items have been consumed the most and accordingly allocate the food budget for your next event, avoiding unnecessary wastage of food and beverage. Impressive!
Of course, we do remember the CitySense smart lighting control system through which it automatically adjusts the brightness of street lights depending on the number of pedestrians and vehicles. Imagine utilizing the same principle within the event floor. Even you, as the Event organizer can remotely control the lighting arrangement depending on which areas you want to highlight more than the others at the same time smart lighting would help to automatically adjust /lower energy consumption in rooms and spaces that are less frequently visited.
The Objective checklist
The most important objective is reached, i.e. figuring out Event planning do’s and dont’s for your future events. Plan your budget, your food, Exhibitors and much more. For example, obtain a vision (& of course data) of the most popular exhibits and sections in your Event. This is known as ‘Attendee dynamics’ that basically point out to what extent your visitors find a certain area more attractive than the rest. This would help you identify the most popular zones in the venue where your audience halts for the longest period and you can sell these as ‘hot booth spaces’ in your future event. Smart posters can collect all the data for the exhibitors throughout the event, listing out the most popular products to and services that attendees reviewed or read.
To sum it up, the Internet of Things not just gives you measurable Data but rather through the collection of all the collated data, it enables you to create that ‘personalized rich user experience’ that always strikes a chord with every attendee. So what stays on top of your success checklist is the number of smiling attendees who were navigated at every level, guided to their desired booths, given access to the invaluable information for which they have come all the way to attend your conference or tradeshow, connected them with the most suitable exhibitors and through the enigmatic technological evolution made them interact with other devices through a single tap on their smartphones, make them feel special and make them want to come back next year or to the next session you host!