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NYCC’s Gonna Track Us All With New RFID Equipped Badges

Pros and Cons

Okay, so it may not be the big deal that San Diego Comic Con is, but The Mary Sue’s biggest hometown con, New York Comic Con, has a special place in our hearts. It’s also approaching with a speed that has caused only a few moments of panic so far (stay tuned in the next few weeks for info on our meetup and our panel), and with an approaching con comes the shipping of badges. NYCC has a new trick up its sleeve to combat both overcrowding and counterfeit or scalped badges (notorious problems for the event): RFID tags. They’re also planning on using the badges to monitor traffic flow. In other words, if having your location within the Javits Center tracked creeps you out, you might want to read the instructions that come with your badge very carefully.

NYCC has been plagued with overcrowding for years, and if you’ve ever been, you’ll know that this isn’t a simple case of lots of people showing up for a popular event. The con has simply outgrown the Javits Center, but with very few other venue options within Manhattan capable of housing NYCC, moving the con is not in the cards. In attempts to expand, the Javits is always under construction to a certain extent during the days of the con, with little expanded space to show for it. Take a con that’s already outgrown its location, and add a widely patronized culture of badge scalpers and counterfeiters, and you wind up with an exhibition hall where even the areas outside the exhibition floor are routinely as densely crowded as my high school hallways between classes.

It’s no wonder, after years of complaints and likely also some considerable worry about crowding hazards, that ReedPOP has turned to RFID, but at least they’re offering some serious perks along with it. Once con-goers receive their badges (badges will not be available for pickup at the convention center this year), they’ll have to register them online. That will enable the badges to be tracked, but ReedPOP has prepared some incentives to register. “Social media perks,” which probably means downloadable Facebook banners and such, giveaways (including a car), and fifty free digital comics on Comixology.

It really says something about me that I’m way more into the idea of fifty comics than a car.

For those who are particularly skeeved out by having the movements of their badge tracked while within the Javits center are free to simply not register. They will still be allowed admittance to the event, but in the event that their badge is lost, it will not be replaced. The rest of us will have tabs kept on us like the sheep we are. Hopefully, the traffic data that ReedPOP will get out of this can be utilized to use the Javits center more efficiently, and the difficulty of counterfeiting or scalping this year’s badges will mean a less crowded, more pleasant con experience for everyone there.

(via The Beat)

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