31 March 2006

Who is watching who at Alton Towers?

Interesting use of technology being pioneered at Alton Towers.

Basically they are installing automated cameras throughout the park that will be triggered by RFID-enabled (Radio Frequency Identity) wrist-bands worn by visitors, creating a personalised DVD record of their visit that can be purchased on exit. (see story)

When I suggested to the spokeswoman for Venue Solutions, who are setting up the system at Alton Towers, that no doubt other theme parks will be watching with interest (Busch Gardens in Florida are already in the frame) she said "yes, Alton Towers are anticipating receiving a large number of visits from theme park managers next year!"

I can see why. It's not just an attractive new service for visitors and revenue stream for the park...

In their coverage of the story, computer magazine VNU mention that "The Sony video cameras will also be used for security purposes, to help tackle vandalism and prevent break-ins".

Alton Towers are not clear yet on exactly how they will distribute the wristbands at the entrance. (They are optional. Visitors don't have to wear them). If the park records a name against a tag, or just match credit cards to wristbands, they will have a pretty powerful 'Big Brother' security system.

Even if wristband wearers remain anonymous, imagine what detailed marketing data the system will provide when managers are able to watch and trace individual visitors' entire visit to the park: where they go, in what order they approach rides, what choices they make, where they pause, what they buy, etc.

I'm not sure it's the visitors who are going to have the most fun with this system!

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