On July 1, the Georgia World Congress Center will be the first convention center to roll out the Worker Identification System, a technology that enables facility management to identify exhibition workers electronically and to ensure that the right people are allowed in the building.
The initiative, developed by the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association, is long overdue, said Mark Zimmerman, general manager at the GWCC. “I’ve been in the business for 21 years, and even 21 years ago, I could see the benefits of having a badge that has worker identification—name, picture, company, and location. It just makes all the sense in the world.”
Here’s how it works. The badges will contain a magnetic strip, a bar code, and a radio-frequency identification chip. The facility, in this case the GWCC, will set up contractor entrances where the badges can be scanned. The badge will include a photo, name, and other pertinent information, as well as the ESCA logo. The information will be kept in a central database maintained by ESCA. Workers at participating facilities won’t be let in without it.
GWCC will be the first to adopt the system. Other centers have signed on to follow, including those in Houston and Dallas.
The badges are developed by ESCA, Carrollton, Texas, and contractors pay ESCA to make the badges for them. While just a handful of facilities are participating so far, observers expect the system to be adopted around the country. A benefit, officials say, is thatworkers will need only one badge to enter all WIS facilities, alleviating the number of badges required by trade show workers, who, as it stands now, have to get a different badge for every building they work in.
It also provides added security at these large public facilities, said Zimmerman. “It’s hard sometimes to figure out if somebody works in the building or not. This gives us an opportunity to know who’s working in the building, so we don’t have people wandering through,” he says.
So far, the idea has been well-received by contractors and security officials, said Zimmerman. “I’ve talked to GCs, independent contractors, and security folks, and everybody across the board has resoundingly said, ‘We’ve needed this for years.’”