Edge of Innovation

Five ways technology is changing music festivals

Forget the days of intermittent mobile signal and a dead battery by Saturday afternoon. Today’s festivals and events are awash with tech that’s enhancing both organisers’ and audiences’ experiences in new and exciting ways!

Lose the cash
Worrying about where to stash your cash safely, or joining the derided cashpoint queue is a thing of the past at US festival Lollapalooza. Using personalised RFID bracelets that link to each attendees credit card info the festival has been cash-free for the past two years. With the rollout of Apple Pay and other cashless systems, we can expect this trend to become more widespread, with the likes of Download following suit this year.

No more tickets
As well as losing your cash, misplacing your ticket has to be another firm fear of the festival goer, which tech is again alleviating. In the UK, Wireless festival and Wakestock have each been ticketless for some time, while Apple’s Passbook and Google Wallet as well as bespoke festival apps and third party services like EventBrite are gradually seeing the popularity of ticketless systems grow.

The personalised festival
iBeacon technology is gradually finding favour amongst event and festival organisers who deploy it to connect audiences with each other, brands and locations. Attendees can opt-in for location-based notifications: so set-lists and running orders can be geo-tagged to each stage, for example, or stores can alert passers-by to special offers. One interesting way the US festival SXSW deployed the tech was to alert users to live queuing times for events and exhibitions.

Today’s festivals and events are awash with tech that’s enhancing both organisers’ and audiences’ experiences

Heavy data
The EE Glastonbury Festival app was a great hit this year, helping the event top the Vine charts. It saw the network rollout a bespoke 4G network across the site in order to deal with the estimated 2.49 terabytes of data, while uploading 0.74 terabytes of data – that’s about 1.5 million selfies. According to Festivalinsights.com supporting these attendee demands is important: Facebook shares were worth around £2.17 in future ticket sales, while Tweeted shares were worth £3.22.

Eyes in the sky
As well as enhancing the actual performance experience, drones have a part to play in festival security. In the UK, festivals over a certain size are have to pay for local Police Force assistance, and large-scale outdoor events are the perfect field for drone policing saving on overtime hours. Last year Police hunting the killer of Parklife festival attendee Robert Hart released footage captured on a drone patrolling the event, while Staffordshire Police deployed a surveillance drone at this year’s V Festival. — Tom Dennis (@tomdennis)

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