GDPR, CCTV and EventsIs this yet another GDPR article? Yes, but before you click on past, this article is a bit more specific, focussing on Event Organisers and a few important aspects relating to them.

If you have somehow managed to miss the basics here is a quick recap (otherwise skip the next two paragraphs). GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, comes into force on May 28th 2018 and is as dull as the name suggests but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. GDPR is, in effect, a beefier version of the Data Protection Act and there are some significant aspects which have changed.

First off, the fines if you are found to be breaching the regulations could be huge – up to 4% of annual worldwide turnover (up to €20 million). Secondly, the onus with GDPR is focussed much more on how and why, with supporting documentation – no more simply ticking a box to say you comply. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, with GDPR there is much more appetite to enforce, along with more resources to audit.

Nearly all of the material currently circulating is focussed around the more obvious areas of customer, supplier and employee data; everything from email addresses to bank accounts and the harvesting of information from websites, social media and direct mail campaigns. This is all valid and needs to be considered seriously, however, for events there are some additional areas which could too easily be overlooked.

CCTV

CCTV is not necessarily something that initially comes to mind when it comes to GDPR but it is very much part of it. The holding and releasing of CCTV footage is already well controlled but the new regulations go much further requiring information on camera placement, field of view and reasoning for coverage needed, coupled with proof of deployment and signage. This is a significant uplift for events compared to the current approach and will need to be factored into planning and deployment from the start.

It is also important to note that ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), drone and body-worn cameras will all need to be assessed too.

In practical terms, we are now expecting all temporary CCTV installations at events to undergo an audit during the build phase documenting the camera locations and reasoning for those locations. Field of view into public areas external to the event is especially important.

Agreement on how long footage is held for, the release process and who can receive the footage will also need to be under much tighter control.

Public Internet Access

Many events allow public access to the internet on an event Wi-Fi network after a ‘splash page’ which may capture details such as an email address to be used after the event to send marketing information. In the future this information is more controlled and must use explicit ‘opt-in’ clauses before the email address can be used.

Even the logging of an IP address (the identifier used when a device connects to the network) coupled with the user information is governed by GDPR, however, this information is required to be stored under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (aka the Snoopers’ Charter) so the way it is stored and who has access to it is very important.

For events which offer public internet access the method of access and what information is captured and stored will need to be reviewed, with likely changes to the Terms & Conditions and opt-in statements.

Supplier & Volunteer Registration Systems

Employee and customer data is called out in nearly all GDPR overviews but it is important to remember that GDPR covers all data including anything recorded for suppliers and volunteers. Any system (paper or electronic) which stores personal information must be assessed including aspects such as what information is stored, where it is stored, how it is stored, how it is used, how the owner can remove it and who has access.

Visitor/Attendee Information

Any personally identifiable information gathered on attendees, such as an email address falls under the same regulations – this could be via initial ticket purchase, attendee registration or at the event itself. Particular attention must be paid to any direct marketing as the attendee must explicitly opt in to any future communications and have means to update or remove their information.

Many of these areas are likely to require a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), this is a new tool and process which must be used when new technology is used or when there is high risk to individuals.

The new regulations also broaden the scope of ‘personal information’ to cover just about everything from a name, email or social information through to genetic, economic and cultural information. The holding of this information has to be shown to have positive, clear consent from the individual using ‘plain English’ type agreements.

An individual must be given the ability to view and update information, and importantly has the right ‘to be forgotten’, which means complete removal from all systems.

These changes may initially look very onerous, however, a lot can be covered by a sensible review and improvements to existing processes. The important thing is not to ignore it – the changes are coming and a lack of preparation will not be a defence if you are found to be in breach.

For events we work on we will be working closely with organisers to assist and make sure all aspects are covered, providing templates and guidance wherever possible. If you would like to discuss any aspect of GDPR impact on your event then please contact us and we will be happy to help.

fibre

“You guys do Wi-Fi at events right?” typically is the way most people remember us, the irony that the invisible part of our service is in reality the most visible. Unless you know what you are looking for at a large event site you are unlikely to notice the extensive array of technology quietly beating away like a heart.

From walking up to the entrance and having your ticket scanned, watching screens and digital signage, using a smartphone app or buying something on your credit card before you leave, today’s event experience is woven with technology touchpoints. Watching a live stream remotely or scrolling through social media content also rely on an infrastructure which supports attendees, the production team, artists, stewards, security, traders & exhibitors, broadcasters, sponsors and just about everyone else involved.

During a big event the humble cables and components which enable all of this may deal with over 25 billion individual electronic packets of data – all of which have to be delivered to the correct location in milliseconds.

In the first of three blogs looking behind the scenes we take a look at how the core network infrastructure is put together.

Let’s Get Physical

When an event organiser starts the build for an event, often several weeks before live, one of the first things they need is connectivity to the internet. Our team arrives at the same time as the cabins and power to deliver what we call First Day Services – a mix of internet connectivity, Wi-Fi and VoIP telephony for the production team.

Connectivity may be provided by traditional copper services such as ADSL or via satellite but more typically is now via optical fibre or a wireless point to point link as the demands on internet access capacity are ever increasing. Even 100Mbps optic fibre connections are rapidly being surpassed with a need for 1Gbps fibre circuits.

Distribution Board

PSTN, ISDN, ADSL and fibre all are commonplace on a big site

Wireless point-to-point links relay connectivity from a nearby datacentre or other point of presence, however, this introduces additional complexity with the need for tall, stable masts at each end of the link to create the ‘line of sight’ required for a point to point link. To avoid interference and improve speeds the latest generations of links now utilise frequencies as high as 24GHz and 60GHz to provide speeds over 1Gbps. Even with the reliability of fibre and modern wireless links it is still key to have a redundant link too so a second connection is used in parallel to provide a backup.

From there on the network infrastructure is built out alongside the rest of the event infrastructure working closely with the event build schedule. Planning is critical with many sites requiring a network infrastructure as complex as a large company head office, which must be delivered in a matter of days over a large area.

The backbone on many sites is an extensive optical fibre network covering several kilometres and running between the key locations to provide the gigabit and above speeds expected. On some sites a proportion of the fibre is installed permanently – buried into the ground and presented in special cabinets – but in most cases it is loose laid, soft dug, flown, ducted, and ramped around the site. Pulling armoured or CST (corrugated steel tube) fibre over hundreds of metres at a time through bushes, trees, ditches and over structures is no easy task!

Optical fibre cable can run over much longer lengths than copper cable whilst maintaining high speeds, however, it is harder to work with requiring, for example, an exotically named ‘fusion splicer’ to join fibre cores together. On one current event which uses a mix of 8, 16 and 24 core fibre there are over 1,200 terminations and splices on the 5.5km of fibre. With the network now a critical element redundancy is important so the fibre is deployed in ‘rings’ so that all locations are serviced from two independent pieces of fibre – a tactic known as ‘diverse routing’ – so that if one piece of fibre becomes damaged the network continues to operate at full speed.

Each secure fibre break-out point, known as a Point of Presence (POP), is furnished with routing and switching hardware within a special weatherproof and temperature controlled cabinet to connect up the copper cabling which is used to provide the services at the end point such as VoIP phones, Wi-Fi Access points, PDQs and CCTV cameras.

Each cabinet is fed power from the nearest generator on a 16-amp feed and contains a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to clean up any power spikes and ensure that if the power fails not only does everything keep running on battery but also an alert is generated so that the power can be restored before the battery runs out.

Although wireless technology is used on sites there is still a lot of traditional copper cabling using CAT5 as this means power can be delivered along the same cable to the end device. Another aspect is speed, with most wireless devices limited to around 450Mbps and shared between multiple users the actual speed is too low for demanding services, whereas CAT5 will happily run at 1Gbps to each user.

For critical reliability wireless also has risks from interference so where possible it is kept to non-critical services but there are always times when it is the only option so dedicated ‘Point-to-Point’ links are used – these are similar to normal Wi-Fi but use special antennas and protocols to improve performance and reliability.

Cheery picker

A head for heights is important for some installs!

Another significant technology on site is VDSL (Very High Bit-Rate DSL), similar in nature to ADSL used at home but run in a closed environment and at much higher speeds. It is the same technology as is used for the BT Infinity service enabling high speed connections over a copper cable up to around 800m in length (as opposed to 100m for Ethernet).

All of these approaches are used to build out the network to each location which requires a network service be it a payment terminal (PDQ) on a stand to a CCTV camera perched high up on a stage. Although there is a detailed site plan, event sites are always subject to changes so our teams have to think on their feet as the site evolves during the build period. Running cables to the top of structures and marquees can be particularly difficult requiring the use of cherry pickers to get the required height.

After the event all of the fibre is coiled back up and sent back to our warehouse for re-use and storage. The copper cable is also gathered up but is not suitable for re-use so instead it is all recycled.

The deployment of the core network is a heavy lift in terms of physical effort but the next step is just as demanding – the logical network is how everything is configured to work together using many ‘virtual networks’ and routing protocols. In part 2 we will take a look at the logical network and the magic behind it.

 

Photo Credit: Fibre Optic via photopin (license)

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Easter always marks a transition point for us – from delivering service primarily to indoor events to the large scale outdoor events. With Easter chocolate consumed there is a rapid ramp in activity both internally and from our customers as plans are finalised and delivery commences in what becomes a back-to-back run until October.

Every year there is talk of ‘the next big thing’ and exciting technologies on the horizon but in reality at the sharp end of delivery the evolution, rather than revolution, of key services is just as important. So with the summer ramp about to start here are four key event technology areas to focus on.

Connectivity

It all starts with connectivity and if one thing is certain it’s that events need more capacity each year. From the data we have gathered over the last eight years you could probably build a complex theorem about the increase rate but in general we see a need for at least a 25-35% increase year on year, and often more depending on what additional services are required. Lack of internet capacity on site remains one of the most common and frustrating issues at events and this is normally down to a lack of budget or not spotting potential issues like high usage due to a mobile app or streaming.

There are trigger points at which existing services such as ADSL, FTTC (the next generation of ADSL), satellite and certain fibre services become limiting and need to be replaced with higher capacity solutions and many of those services can have significant lead times so it is important to plan connectivity as soon as possible.

Payment Systems

The debate around traditional ‘chip & PIN’, closed loop payment systems (wristbands) and open loop systems (‘contactless’) may be ongoing but it doesn’t really matter which route you choose; attendees, exhibitors and traders simply want payment systems that work.

Early, clear communication on what solutions are available at an event is critical as traders and exhibitors need support through this somewhat complex & confusing area. Expecting mobile GPRS payment terminals to work reliably on a crowded event site is crazy and can have a significant impact on revenue.

System Integration

Each year the integration between different aspects of technology at events becomes more complex and the need to coordinate and manage all the different requirements becomes more important. From the basics of wireless spectrum management & access control, to the adhoc needs of sponsors, audio & broadcasters, each requirement can have an impact on the success of an event so the sooner it is identified the better it can be dealt with.

Safety & Security

The area of safety and security breaks into two areas – the use of technology to help manage and secure the event, and the security of the technology itself.

Sadly, hacking isn’t just something that happens to governments and large companies, it is a continuous real threat. Externally we see frequent attempts to access services and systems from locations such as Russia and China. This is going on all the time across the internet and event sites are just as prone to access attempts as any other internet node.

Risks also exist within an event site, generally from people just trying to access Wi-Fi networks but sometimes the intent is more sinister. With so many critical services running on event networks maintaining appropriate security is essential. Encrypted, managed networks, strong authentication, intrusion detection, client isolation and firewalls are just some of the techniques required to keep the network secure.

Using technology to keep an event site physically safe and secure has become increasingly important over the last few years. The obvious aspect is CCTV with high definition cameras capable of excellent detail and response but there is much more available to organisers. Visibility of real-time access control data from gates, scans of social media streams, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) of vehicles entering a site and ‘heat mapping’ of devices across an event site can all be combined to provide an insight to event control of what is happening on site.

Event technology has already come a long way from just being about internet access and it continues to evolve rapidly but this evolution and dependence requires an increased focus on planning to ensure it all comes together seamlessly.

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.

This week sees our 4th consecutive year exhibiting at the Showman’s Show. The show, at Newbury Showground on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th October, in a way marks a transition from the 2011 outdoor event season to the start of the 2012 season, although these days we see a variety of outdoor events year-round.

Etherlive ready for it's 4th Showmans Show

Etherlive prepares for its 4th Showmans Show

2012 in the UK is of course a bit of a one off with the Olympics and Paralympics occurring right at the peak of the outdoor event season. We are providing a number of services for Olympic related activity, such as all the IT, communications and broadcast provision for the London Media Centre, but we have been very careful to ensure this has no impact on our existing customers and their events.

What is important though is booking and planning for 2012, especially in London and other locations that will see Olympic activity. Provision of connectivity such as fibre and broadband services will see longer lead times due to sheer demand (we are ordering many services already so that they are provisioned very early next year). Transportation is another area which is impacted with requirements on suppliers to submit transport plans for London well in advance of events if they occur during the broad Olympic period. These aspects and others are all good topics for discussion at Showman’s if you are planning an event in 2012.

This year we are on Stand 71 of the indoor hall where we will be demonstrating a new generation of mobile VoIP handsets – allowing the freedom of a mobile phone with the cost advantages of VoIP. These units also couple up with an alarm and monitoring system providing a new level of integrated service for event organisers.

We will also be launching our latest innovation; Event Band, a suite of tools using RFID technology facilitating payment systems, loyalty services, accreditation and crew management. This technology will sit alongside the latest generation wireless chip & pin PDQs providing reliable payment methods for bars, merchants, exhibitors and ticketing.

The latest networked noise monitoring support offered by Etherlive will be on display, along with a demonstration of next generation satellite broadband, offering internet anywhere from the new KA band with higher internet speeds.

Alongside all the new products we will also have our core network, communications and CCTV technologies on display, solutions that have been used time and time again across a wide range of events connecting thousands of users. Outside we will also have one of our communications tower lights offering CCTV, Wi-Fi and public address as well as an economical lighting system. This can be found on the Aceplant stand (169) at the end of Avenue G.

Recently we announced that Etherlive has joined ESSA (Event Supplier and Services Association), alongside ongoing membership of the AIF (Association of Independent Festivals) and the ASAO (Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations). As well as actively participating in these organisations we also offer special services to fellow members.

We will have plenty of staff on hand to discuss event requirements and provide cost effective solutions to a broad range of connectivity, communications and other event IT needs.

 

We are now in the final stages of planning for the Showman’s Show 2010 and looking forward with meeting new and existing customers around the marquees and stands. This year our indoor stand (in the warm, number 68 ) is right on the main row whilst our outdoor stand (171) is at the end of avenue G. Whatever the weather it would be great to see you there.

If you haven’t had the chance to make your way over to the Newbury show ground before, The Showman’s Show is the trade show of choice for the events industry. An eclectic mix of everything from portable toilets, stages, marquees, lighting companies and of course event technology suppliers (us!)

Etherlive at the Showman's Show

The Showman's Show - Etherlive will be at stands 68 & 171

A little taster of some of the things we will be exhibiting:

Reliable Connectivity – We’ll continue to talk about our passion delivering temporary connectivity – wired and wireless for any size and shape of event, from media centres to entire festivals.

An Overview of Connectivity Options – From a phone line and broadband to high capacity fixed line and satellite services. We have a range of options to meet all needs.

Mobile Phone Data Offload – Fed up with smartphone apps not working at events? Find out what we have been doing to resolve this problem.

RFID Solutions – After successful trials in 2010 we will be demonstrating our Smartcard system for crew catering (no more paper vouchers!) and other authorisation aspects.

That’s just a few of the things we will be talking about, along with some old favourites like the Communications Tower Light, CCTV, VoIP, network management & monitoring, flight-case based network hubs and more. Drop in for a chat, a coffee or a bottle of the finest Etherlive water.

The Showman’s Show, Newbury Showground is open 20th and 21st October 9:30am – 4pm.

As with any venue, show grounds have had to evolve to survive the ebb and flow of the economy over the last few years; the international recession coupled with increasing financial pressure on farming has meant that show grounds have had to diversify into a broader range of events and compete with indoor venues.

But while show grounds can compete in many areas, they have, until now been slow to adopt new forms of technology; that is providing the infrastructure for event directors and the attendees themselves to get connected.

Show grounds are more traditionally associated with large annual county shows and temporary events which come and go.  Typically each event implements its own technology; ranging from phone lines and PA, through to CCTV and payment terminals.   But as these venues are expanding and competing with the likes of Earl’s Court and the NEC, a permanent technology infrastructure will become a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’.

Event Directors now expect to be able to access e-mail, communicate with their teams and take advantage of marketing opportunities such as interactive content; in fact Wi-Fi connectivity is now seen as a standard requirement.

Tom McInerney, Events Director at Etherlive offers a few pointers on how to get started.

 Top tips for show grounds getting connected

  1. Whatever the event, the chances are you’ll need to provide phone lines to the organisers – the number may vary from event to event.  Be aware that it can take up to four weeks for your telecoms provider to install a line assuming they offer a temporary service.  For a permanent installation, you can always opt for Voice over IP (VoIP) lines which can be easily deployed to meet demand with no added cost whilst delivering the same quality. Many also offer free national calls.
  2. Your communications technologies are all reliant on the power supply – if your power source fails, you have a problem.  So when you’re planning your power requirements for organiser areas, opt for an uninterruptable supply, or arrange a back-up generator to ensure operations continue in emergencies.
  3. An increasing number of show grounds are installing permanent Wi-Fi.  But don’t make the assumption that a small network installed within the main site office  will be enough to provide everyone with the right connectivity and support. Check the capacity of the network prior to each event and establish what would happen if you need technical support.
  4. It sounds obvious, but check that each event organiser has laptops that are set up to use the latest standards (802.11n is the most modern), meaning they will be able to enjoy faster speeds and get better signal strength.  Don’t be afraid of using wire if you need to.  Better that, than no internet access.
  5. In our experience, the onsite teams at events get bombarded with questions which come up time and time again – opening times, parking details etc.  If you have a telephone exchange on site, why not set up an automated attendant system for your client to reduce the volume of calls to key staff.
  6. Ensure you have a method of secure one to one communication which doesn’t rely on mobile phone networks (which may become too busy).  Radio networks are great for most communications on site, but what if the organisers need to transfer private or sensitive information, like the description of a missing child, for example?  It makes sense to have a secure line dedicated to staff in case of instances like this.
  7. Make the most of the infrastructure you have to add value to services for event organises. CCTV, for example, can now be used for far more than surveillance.  Many cameras can automatically detect and track motion and combined with infrared lights which can ‘see in the dark’.  As well as pure security aspects, deployment of cameras can assist in monitoring crowd flow, entrance traffic management and even providing a more flexible webcam option for linking into websites!
  8. Audience interaction is becoming more popular especially using mobile devices which can be used to view running orders, find your way around or purchase directly from exhibitors’ websites. Consider supplying a Wi-Fi network where attendees will get the best experience.

For further information contact:

Helen Stevens
www.ascentpr.co.uk
T
. 01454 629741
etherlive@ascentpr.co.uk

Lights, Connectivity, Action! Etherlive and AcePlant release the Ecolite P Plus tower light with embedded communications and security technology

Etherlive in partnership with Ace Plant are launching the brand new Ecolite P Plus at the Showman’s Show at Newbury show ground, stand 171, Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd October. This new tower light comes ready to illuminate any event with integrated CCTV, public address and Wi-Fi connectivity, all in one eco friendly unit!

The Ecolite P Plus has been created in collaboration with TCP, based on the latest Ecolite tower light it includes many features which will help site managers reduce costs and their environmental footprint whilst benefiting from technology such as wireless internet and CCTV coverage.

With the addition of industrial Wi-Fi the unit automatically meshes back to existing Etherlive wireless networks in the area, providing secure internet access, CCTV video and public announcements.

The Ecolite P Plus includes all the advantages of the Ecolite family of tower lights which include advanced high efficiency, low glare, ceramic discharge lamps which make the bulbs 85% more efficient than traditional tower lights. The unit has been designed with a pallet size footprint which uses over 50% less space during transport than conventional tower lights (20 on a standard lorry) but still includes a hydraulic 9.1m mast using bio-degradable fluids which can withstand 100 kph winds.

With multiple power options, including seven day generator and hot swap battery; lighting, communications and security systems such as the pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) CCTV camera will continue to operate regardless of the external power environment.

The communications capabilities of the EcoLite P Plus includes industrial Wi-Fi and wired network access which can deliver VoIP services and other network access as required. Public address announcements are sent to the unit from a central point and broadcast using the built-in speakers.

About Etherlive
Based in Wiltshire, England, Etherlive is a technology services company working in partnership with event organisers to deliver key services such as VoIP, internet, CCTV, payment processing, interactive advertising and rich media to all types of festivals, events, product launches and conferences. A finalist in the Red Herring 2009 technology awards, Etherlive has developed a range of solutions tailored to meet the demands of the live event environment all backed by experienced deployment & support teams. For more information visit http://events.www.etherlive.co.uk