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INSIGHTS

Why theme parks must turn to security technologies in post-COVID era

Why theme parks must turn to security technologies in post-COVID era
Amid covid-19, adult and children amusement park operators are faced with various new requirements. To meet those requirements, they can turn to security-related theme park technology to enhance theme park management.
Theme park operators are faced with various new requirements, now and post-pandemic. To meet those requirements, they should turn to security technologies for example people counting and RFID to enhance management and provide a safe experience for visitors.
 
With the worst of the pandemic now over in certain regions in the world, theme park operators in those regions are planning to reopen, and some of them already did. Shanghai Disney for example has reopened since May. In the U.S., theme parks that have reopened include Cedar Point, Coney Island amusement parks, Hersheypark, and Six Flags Frontier City in Oklahoma City.
 
However, adult and children amusement park operators seeking to reopen are faced with certain new requirements, now and post-pandemic. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, has advised that theme parks can reduce risk by keeping social distancing of at least 6 feet between individuals or household groups. Universal theme parks in Florida, meanwhile, are open with certain disease prevention and theme park management guidelines, for example making sure daily park attendance and attraction ridership be limited and reduced, social distancing be enforced at all locations through the parks, and contactless payments and “no touch” policies be practiced where possible.
 

How security helps with theme park management

 
To meet these new requirements, existing security-related theme park technology can come in handy. In the post-pandemic era, operators should build these technologies into the overall theme park architecture for more effective management and enforcement. In fact, some of these technologies are already implemented in certain theme parks. They are summarized as follow.
 

Mass rapid screening

 
Screening for concealed weapons are often deployed at the entrance of an adult or children amusement park. While metal detectors are mostly used, they tend to cause a long line to form with people close to each other, in violation of social distancing guidelines. In this regard, mass rapid screening can be considered as a theme park technology. It typically uses radio frequency and renders 3D images that can be analyzed by AI for weapon detection; in so doing, it allows people to pass through quickly without having to take off their coat or open their bags.
 
"As part of their safety-first re-opening strategies where social distancing and a touchless experience is now deemed vital, security screening at guest entrances has had to adapt quickly to the new world. Given this new normal, theme parks are moving away from using legacy metal detectors as part of their security screening process," said Anil Chitkara, Founder of Evolv Technology.
 
Evolv’s Express technology, which uses radio frequency and cameras for threat visualization, claims to be able to screen up to 3,600 people per hour – 10 times faster than legacy approaches such as metal detectors, hand wands and manual inspections. “The combination of high-speed sensors and AI software enables Express to identify threats immediately without requiring visitors to stop, empty pockets, and remove bags,” Chitkara said. “Express automatically detects threats and enables real-time image-aided alarms showing security personnel precisely where the potential threat is on a person or in his or her bag. Doing so greatly reduces the amount of physical contact required between the security personnel and those being screened.”
 

People counting

 
People counting is already an effective tool for counting foot traffic for business intelligence purposes. This applies to various vertical markets, including the theme park industry, where people counting is used to determine peak hours and calculate wait times for different rides. Now, with COVID-19 and related requirements that theme park maximum capacity be halved or reduced to accommodate social distancing, people counting already popular in certain verticals is more needed for theme park management to allow capacity monitoring and reduce the need to train staff to do the job.

"Every theme park is different, but most are operating at a percentage of max capacity to ensure guests can maintain social distancing. Therefore, people counting sensors are used at park entrances to combine data across multiple entrances, to calculate a real-time current occupancy status. This allows staff to permit additional people into the park, or wait until guests leave,” said Jessica Lipply, Marketing Coordinator at Sensource. "Our people counting solution works by installing overhead-mounted, 3-D stereo video people counting sensors. The sensors are PoE and use the network connection to communicate data to our cloud-based Vea Analytics Reporting Platform. A new feature within Vea is our SafeSpace Occupancy Monitoring Solution. It allows amusement park operators to display real-time occupancy on a tablet or TV at the gate or integrate on their website for guests to determine the best time to arrive (for reference)."
 

RFID

 
RFID has been in use for decades. In the post-pandemic era, operators should build RFID into the theme park architecture for effective theme park management and user experience optimization. In particular, RFID can be used for virtual queueing, social distancing and contactless payments.
 
Virtual queues are already deployed in certain theme parks like Disney to reduce theme park wait times. In the era of social distancing, this feature will see even more demand. In this regard, operators can be assisted with RFID, whereby the visitor can tap their RFID wristband at a kiosk to register into a virtual queue for a ride. If the system already has the visitor’s mobile information on file, it will send a notification to the visitor when their turn is next. “Virtual queueing with RFID can be done by allowing guests to scan and be texted when their turn is next. Kiosks allow for real-time virtual queueing as well,” said Anthony Palermo, Co-Founder of Connect&Go. “Most theme parks and waterparks are enforcing timed ticketing, capacity control, virtual queueing and contactless payments. RFID wearables allow parks to cost-efficiently address all these covid-specific requirements.”
 
Social distancing can be done with RFID as well. Connect&Go also has a solution where an alert will be issued when RFID wristbands worn by two people are within a certain distance. Finally, RFID allows contactless payment to go more smoothly, whereby the visitor makes a payment simply by tapping their wristband to a reader. “By associating credit cards or loading cash digitally on smart wearables, guest can scan for purchase everywhere on site,” Palermo said.


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