The NEC completes £7m technology infrastructure investment

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham, UK, has announced the completion of a £7m (US$9.5m) technology infrastructure investment across the venue.

The venue is the first in the UK to adopt WaitTime, an artificial intelligence solution that provides real-time measurement of venue capacity and crowd density.

The NEC, which attracts 2.3m visitors annually, said the software provides robust crowd data and business intelligence information. With a majority of ‘Venue Protect’ Covid-19 safety measures still in place, WaitTime’s technology also alerts the NEC to capacity issues across the site. The data can then be used to trigger operational responses and inform the teams on real-time capacity levels.

Another benefit of the investment is the venue’s Wi-Fi upgrade, utilising technology developed by Cisco. The move has seen 1,800 Wi-Fi access points installed to eliminate all black spots in all public spaces.

All wired, corporate and event networks at the venue have also been replaced to give greater capacity and bandwidth and increase connectivity at events for organisers and exhibitors. Ian Solomon, director of operations at Hyve Group, said: “During 2021’s Autumn Fair, it was clear from an organisers perspective that improvements were being made to the NEC’s Wi-Fi infrastructure. It gave us the confidence to direct visitors to download and use our show app using the venue’s free Wi-Fi. As a result, we generated a significant increase in visitor engagement.”

Ian Taylor, managing director for NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions, said: “Our new Wi-Fi solution teamed with WaitTime’s crowd and business intelligence is revolutionary. The NEC Group is a data-led business and it is investments like this that help to keep us at the cutting edge of live event innovation.”