Designed and built in South Africa, the access-control system for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 harnessed patented ticket-technology, dedicated software, purpose-built turnstiles and the expertise of security specialists.
The result? A zero-failure system reflecting the professionalism of the United Cricket Board of South Africa and attracting attention from other major sporting events.
Mark Eardley looks at the factors that contributed to the system's success.
It is just after 0900 on 16 February and South Africa are set to play New Zealand at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. At the gates, 28 turnstiles are each admitting over 540 spectators an hour and transmitting realtime attendance-data to the ground's management.
Graham Cook, programme manager at Dimension-Data reflects that, "Those volumes were the closest we came to our designed capacity of admitting and recording 600 ticketed-spectators an hour at each turnstile."
As prime contractor for ticketing and access systems for the ICC Cricket World Cup Organising Committee, Dimension-Data is delighted with the results delivered to the UCB. Ian Smith, CWC 2003 commercial director overseeing ticketing, said: "The system was crucial on two important fronts - crowd control and reconciling ticket sales. In terms of the realtime data, such a system prevents the crowd tragedies that have characterised over-capacity football grounds. In terms of sales, we are able to identify and monitor no-shows and sometimes even put certain tickets back on sale."
For Patrick Ronan, joint CEO of Global Consulting Network and chairperson of the CWC's Security Directorate, the system was about enhancing security through effective access control: "It worked really well. There were no pitch invasions; nothing was thrown at a player; and no spectators were injured through malfeasance."
Ronan acknowledges that controlled access to host stadiums was achieved largely due to the software's ability to validate each ticket. According to Graham Cook, the system foiled some 60 000 attempted illicit entries at 51 games. He says, "This represents around 15 000 people trying to gain unlawful access - with each of them attempting, on average, to circumvent the system four times."
Beyond the security results, the system excelled in terms of managing data from the turnstiles' ticket-readers. Ticket production was handled by DexSecurity, using its patented Dexi-Code technology.
DexSecurity's MD, Ernest Cockroft, explains that, "Dexi-Code provides a copy-protected, two dimensional bar code that holds more encrypted data than conventional codes, allowing us to supply ground-management with realtime data including entry-flows, seat-occupancy, ticket categories, exit data and attempted illicit entries.
"When used in conjunction with the SafeVenue software that we developed for this event, you get the functionalities of ticket-validation and attendance-data within one system."
Working closely on system-integration with DexSecurity, Turnstar Systems designed and installed 142 waist-high turnstiles for the event. On the frontline, Patrick Ronan was impressed by their performance: "These turnstiles are really robust and worked particularly effectively. At peak periods they were each handling something like 600 people an hour."
Looking back, Pat Cooke, Turnstar's head of engineering, says, "At the nine major grounds in South Africa, we had to install turnstiles that were man enough for the job and would be guaranteed to work 100%. That is what happened."
At smaller grounds like Benoni and Pietermaritzburg, and grounds in Zimbabwe and Kenya, Turnstar built portable housings for ticket-readers that incorporated all the data functions of the overall system.
A key lesson: technology must serve spectators
Beyond the fact that the system fulfilled functional expectations, Cockroft stresses the importance of a successful interface between technology and spectators:
"Technology must not interrupt people's enjoyment of the event. Overall, the spectators' positive experience was critical to this system's success. At the turnstiles, they enjoyed zero-failure. For paying customers, it does not get any better than that."
Ticket to the future
So, what are the implications for leveraging the system's success?
Ian Smith says, "People saw for themselves how well it worked. In South Africa, we are already talking to certain rugby people and overseas we are in negotiation with one of the world's top soccer clubs."
DexSecurity and Dimension Data are now co-operating with golf-organisers for the President's Cup at Fancourt. Internationally, they are talking with FIFA's Organising Committee for ticketing and access control at Soccer World Cup 2006.
Turnstar's MD, Sidney Sacks, foresees, "Growing potential for top-performing South African companies to become more involved with stadia oversees. A few years ago, we supplied the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada, West Indies. After the success of Cricket World Cup, we are even more confident of securing similar work with other international stadia."
For more information contact Turnstar Systems, 011 786 1633.
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