Big Brother, Err, The ACC, Is Watching You

It didn’t feel creepy, but in fact the ACC, and anyone else it wanted to share the information with, was watching our every move in the convention center during the scientific sessions.

Credit the indefatigable electrophysiologist, Westby Fisher for peeking behind the curtain. Or, in this case, ripping apart his ACC congress badge. Here’s what he found: the ACC congress badges contained RFID tags that allowed the ACC to track the movement of everyone with a badge. Then he found a press release (reprinted below) from Alliance Tech, the company that provided the RFID technology, that explained what it’s all about.

Here are the key details: the ACC and Alliance Tech “entered into a partnership to offer booth traffic reporting and analysis for ACC.11 exhibitors” at the conference. The ACC  said it was “excited to be incorporating RFID technology, as it will provide us with an opportunity to better understand the needs and preferences of our attendees and will offer our exhibitors the ability to increase the value of their participation in our event.”

Here’s how Alliance Tech explains the purpose of the technology: it “offers exhibitors the opportunity to increase their ROI and revenue opportunities by providing them with the ability to capture booth visitor traffic in real-time. The solution will supply ACC and its exhibitors with the ability to understand attendee interests and product preferences through accurate, web-based reporting & analytics. The initial offering will allow exhibitors to capture visitors and traffic pattern data by meaningful demographics such as job function, geography and organization.”

I have a few questions:

1. Does the ACC capture and retain data on individual badge holders, and what does it do with this data? How much information does it share with outsiders?

2. Why did the ACC not disclose this new technology to everyone receiving a badge, and why did it not offer them an opportunity to opt-out of being tracked?

You may have additional questions, I’m sure.

Update: For a much more detailed discussion of the privacy issues raised by this episode, see the blog post mentioned by Calvin Powers in his comment below.

Here’s the press release issued by Alliance Tech:

ACC.11 to offer RFID-based exhibitor traffic analysis at 2011 event
Austin, TX (January 7, 2011) – The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and Alliance Tech have entered into a partnership to offer booth traffic reporting and analysis for ACC.11 exhibitors at the 60th Annual Scientific Session & Expo to be held April 2–5, 2011 (Exhibits: April 3–5), in New Orleans.

“The American College of Cardiology is excited to be incorporating RFID technology, as it will provide us with an opportunity to better understand the needs and preferences of our attendees and will offer our exhibitors the ability to increase the value of their participation in our event,” says Susan Krys, Senior Director of Expositions for ACC.

Alliance Tech’s Intelligent EXHIBITOR offers exhibitors the opportunity to increase their ROI and revenue opportunities by providing them with the ability to capture booth visitor traffic in real-time. The solution will supply ACC and its exhibitors with the ability to understand attendee interests and product preferences through accurate, web-based reporting & analytics. The initial offering will allow exhibitors to capture visitors and traffic pattern data by meaningful demographics such as job function, geography and organization.

With this innovative solution, exhibitors are able to increase their return on investment by gaining valuable insight that would be otherwise unattainable or cumbersome to collect. “Our reporting engine provides exhibitors the ability to analyze visitor traffic in booths with product area drilldowns to derive a more accurate score of a visitor’s buying potential,” says Art Borrego, CEO, Alliance Tech.

ACC.11 exhibitors interested in learning more about this offering can contact Kevin Christensen at 512.320.5779 or via email at [email protected] A webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 for all exhibitors who are interested in learning more about the value this solution can provide. Please visit this link to register.
About ACC.11

ACC’s Annual Scientific Session & Expo and Innovation in Intervention: i2 Summit 2011, in partnership with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, will feature cutting-edge Science, Innovation, Education, Networking and Intervention. ACC.11 is an annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology that provides a forum for the latest findings in cardiovascular science, as well as the most clinically relevant practical applications. It is one of the most highly attended and respected events in cardiovascular medicine. This year’s event will take place in New Orleans at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

About Alliance Tech

Alliance Tech is an event technology solutions provider focused on marketing metrics for tradeshows,
conferences and events. The company was the first to offer an Intelligent Radio Frequency Identification
(RFID) solution to track attendee interests and preferences at conferences. Alliance Tech has extensive
experience in successfully delivering event solutions for RFID, Mobile, and Social Media. To learn more
about the Alliance Tech offerings, please visit www.alliancetech.com.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this story. It’s a great example of the privacy issues we are going to be facing more and more. I have posted some thoughts and comments about this on my Visible IT blog at
    https://www-950.ibm.com/blogs/visible/entry/the_privacy_continuum67?lang=en_us

Trackbacks

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