This week I contributed an article for the stellar source for all things festival business, Festival Insights, which focused on the challenges with festival connectivity and new developments in this space. The piece includes excerpts of research and interviews with festival organisers and event technology providers for The Connected Festival™ Report. The report, which cover the US, UK and Europe, will be presented and released during ‘The Future of Event Tech’ session at the 2015 SXSW Music Conference.
In the words of Grace Hopper, a computer programming pioneer, “The most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”
Almost every facet of festival operations is changing, including the area of IT and connectivity, and the old rules are going by the wayside year by year.
When TOURTech launched its IT company during the 2008/2009 festival season, back-of-house Internet access was considered ‘nice to have.’ “If it went down, nobody cared that much,” said founder Al Cook.
As the festival worlds become more connected, IT has become mission critical. Cook elaborated, “When your festival is riding on a cashless payment system that may or may not need to connect to the Internet, but certainly to a server on-site or to each other, the requirement to have a local area network is really dominating the festival design these days.”
Last year TOURTech serviced 25 festivals and 17 one-off festival-related events. While the demand for festival IT has grown, each deployment has expanded year-over-year. One of their clients, C3 Presents, drastically increased the number of network drops for Austin City Limits (ACL) festival, from 100 in 2013 to over 240 in 2014.
“What gets harder is the demand,” said David Fordyce, IT Manager for C3. “Last year we started doing cashless at all our festivals.” This required drops at all the cashless payment access points and top-up stations where attendees added money to their RFID wristbands.
To get your free copy of The Connected Festival Report, which will dive deeper into Wi-Fi and connectivity, iBeacons and next-generation mobile apps, social media and data intelligence, and the evolution of cashless and mobile payment systems, contact Kim Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.