A Golden Globes show ticket with embedded RFID chip being scanned at front of red carpet.

Move over, Entertainment Tonight. There’s a new way to identify the real VIPs. A portable radio frequency identification (RFID) system, used at this year’s Golden Globe Awards, tightened the event’s security while keeping up appearances. Numerous celebrity happenings as well as more mundane but still security-sensitive corporate events may start applying higher-level RFID approaches.

It seems that with increased worldwide attention, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and its security company placed tighter controls on perimeter access to the event and access to numerous internal areas throughout the facility hosting the award show. So how do they ensure the right individuals get credentialed for the event and only approved VIPs get ticketed access? For the last three years they have turned to EventCredentials, LLC, Los Angeles, to provide photo/RFID credentials and tickets to all approved individuals.

Top star challenges

Normally The Beverly Hilton is open to the public, but during the Golden Globes it becomes a highly restricted and secured venue. This required the HFPA to credential thousands of media members, production staff, celebrities, vendors and hotel employees. Each of the 5,000 individuals credentialed needed a unique electronic access record that will grant access to individually pre-approved areas at the venue. Areas that required enhanced access control included the International Ballroom, the red carpet area, the 25,000-square-foot media center with 10 separate rooms and the five on-site after-parties.

In addition, all 1,500 vehicles entering the controlled perimeter had to be credentialed, ranging from the limos that dropped off the stars at the red carpet to food delivery trucks. Further complicating access control, tickets to the ballroom were not assigned and only issued four days before the event since presenters and VIP guests are not confirmed until the week of the show. The HFPA and security team needed a fluid process to manage credentials, tickets and vehicle passes electronically.

Savi Networks’ SaviTrak managed service is Web-based software linked to radio frequency identification tags on cargo containers. The technology provides real-time information on the location, security and status of global shipments.

RFID solution

EventCredentials implemented a proprietary “3-in-1” turnkey solution which allowed HFPA to streamline the registration, credentialing and controlling of access level rights for all individuals needing to be credentialed and ticketed. The solution provided an integrated system: attendee database management; on-site check-in and photo/RFID credential and ticket production; and credential and ticket scanning at perimeter and internal access points. The software allowed HFPA senior members and the security team to efficiently make decisions on the access rights granted to each of the 5,000 individuals credentialed. Since an RFID enhanced credential was used, access rights could be altered by such administrators electronically in real-time with a click of a button.

Gone were the days of needing to reprint a credential in order to make changes to an individual’s access rights.

During the three weeks leading up to the Golden Globes Awards’ show, individuals needing to receive a credential and guests approved to receive tickets to the ballroom were filtered through EventCredentials’ proprietary event management software. The HFPA and security had access to each of these individuals’ relevant data at all times electronically.

Pre-show needs

During the five days leading up to the show, EventCredentials issued over 5,000 photographic credentials, 1,500 vehicle passes and 1,300 personalized ballroom tickets, each embedded with an RFID chip used to verify authentication and user identity upon entrance to multiple areas within the venue. Attendees visited the Credential Center located on-site at the venue and in less then a minute had their pre-approved access record retrieved, photo captured, credential printed and RFID chip activated.

Show day results

On show day, each credential, vehicle pass and ticket was scanned for electronic verification. With dozens of independent scanning locations, individuals didn’t get very far before being scanned and re-scanned to authenticate access. Scanning devices included wireless PDAs, which displayed the credential holder’s photo and name upon scanning of the credential or ticket for physical verification by security personnel. In addition, RFID technology made it possible to instantly deactivate lost, revoked, stolen or forgotten credentials/tickets, eliminating potential counterfeiting or misuse.

The key to success was the software. Designed for hardware that can be moved efficiently and effectively from event to event as well as through any venue, it permits sophisticated security and access control without the high installation and maintenance costs.

Side bar: RFID When the VIP Is Cargo

Radio frequency identification can do more than ID Felicity Huffman. It can also identify and track container cargo. For example, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Savi Networks, a provider of RFID-enhanced information services for global container shipments, and the Trans Pacific Container Service Corp. (TraPac) agreed recently to extend SaviTrak real-time, supply-chain information services to client shipping lines using TraPac’s port facilities in Los Angeles, Oakland and Jacksonville, Fla.

TraPac provides stevedoring services as the U.S. terminal operating subsidiary of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), one of the world’s largest multi-modal shipping companies. TraPac-operated terminals in the United States handle one million container shipments annually.

“Shippers and carriers calling on TraPac port facilities now will be connected to a growing worldwide network that provides real-time information services on the location, status and security of their containerized cargo,” said Lani Fritts of Savi Networks. “With SaviTrak’s RFID-based information services, TraPac will continue to provide advanced technology solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their shipments.”