If you’ve noticed that this year it’s been even tougher than usual to get a badge to New York Comic Con, you were’t just imagining it. In recent years, NYCC has become synonymous with “teeming masses.” leading to discomfort at best and outright danger at worst. This year ReedPOP, which throws the show, is doing something about it by cracking down on counterfeit and scalped badges and in general adding a new level of rigor to obtaining a badge.
In the biggest change, all badges will use RFID (radio frequency ID) technology to track users and traffic, as explained in the FAQ, While RFID sounds a little like a new NSA tool, it’s actually a increasingly common technology used in everything from EZPass to cattle drives to music festivals Bonnaroo and Coachella.
What does this mean for this year’s show? Well, many things. We’re still getting the details—initial badges are being mailed out this week and the first person we know wrote to say it came with TWO PAGES of instruction—but Reed is just making sure everyone gets the new procedures.
While everyone knows you can’t buy badges onsite at SDCC or NYCC any more, NYCC is going one better: you can’t even PICK UP a badge onsite any more. 99.9% of all badges—consumer, pro, press—will be mailed out ahead of time. (Which has made reg more nerve-wracking than ever but see below.) Once you get the badge you need go online to register it. This will allow traffic to be mapped, but it does come with some cool social media perks and 50 FREE digital comics from comiXology. In addition, you may even win a FREE CHEVY. Yes that’s right. NEW CAR. So go register that badge!
Once you are registered, upon entering and leaving the show you will need to tap in and tap out with authorized ReedPOP personnel. This will weed out counterfeit badges, which were a MAJOR problem last year. According to ReedPOP, all badges are being mailed out because they expect all badges to be gone by next Friday (the deadline for everything.) Although you can get in and out without registering online, it is encouraged as it will allow them to replace your badge if it is lost. There will also be additional giveaways and social media perks when you register your badge.
Although this sounds like a recipe for a gridlock, we’re told ReedPOP has enough entrances and scanners to process people quicker than in the past and “it will make the building much safer.”
I will reiterate that this had to be done. To be brutally honest, NYCC badges have not been treated like the precious objects they are until recently, and lax security has led to dangerous overcrowding. We’ve all noted that on the Sunday of the show half the people seem to be walking around without badges. I’ve also heard anecdotal stories about guys selling entire BOXES of counterfeit badges out on the streets near Javits. For the first few years of NYCC getting certain types of free badges was a very easy affair for someone who forgot to buy one, or just needed to get in. And it’s a loophole savvy congoers made full use of. Well, no more.
So what if you don’t have a badge for NYCC? If you are a fan a FEW single day passes are still being sold for THURSDAY AND FRIDAY only.
Press reg ends on September 6, the deadline for mailing out the badges, and many people are being rejected so don’t delay and get some awesome clips.
Pro badges had the same deadline but they are already sold out. This led to some anxiety this morning on Twitter:
Just discovered I've missed the pro registration deadline for NYCC. Which is somewhat galling as I've already paid for accommodation…
— Andy Diggle (@andydiggle) August 30, 2013
So bottom line? ReedPOP is taking welcome steps to end the dangerous overcrowding at New York Comic Con—the new technology will not be as hard as it looks, and as soon as it rolls out and people get the hang of it, it will be the new, unremarked on normal. In fact as comic cons everywhere get bigger and bigger and bigger, we’d expect this kind of technology to become VERY common.
In the mean time, someone please help Diggle! Otherwise he’ll be left hanging at the pub, and I know he would hate that.
I guess it’s nice that they are trying something, but it’s too little/late for me. Last year at the con was absolutely miserable and I have little faith in Reed’s ability to not make me feel like cattle while at one of their events.
And to top it off, NYCC is having trouble with their activation software. Some of badges have faulty numbers and can’t be activated. A rep for NYCC said the “glitch” should be fixed next week.
Thankfully we started our pro registration right when it opened because we ran into a glitch on the website that arbitrarily decided that Richard Horie wasn’t a pro. Richard has had multiple books on the stands with his name in them for over 22 years now. It took 3 weeks of emails to get this worked out with NYCC registration staff. Mine went through on the first try. The new system is full of bugs.
Well then over crowding is due to the lack of security and that’s on the Javtis Center and ReedPOP for hiring inferior security.
I registered mine. I had an error at first cause the 0’s looked like O’s to me. I just had to retype. I still have to check out the free online comics.
I think this will be pretty spiffy
I’m hoping that NYCC will sync the escalators, so that the pair go in one direction only.
3A should go DOWN only, as should the escalator down to 1A.
3B should go UP only.
There should also be stanchions creating lanes of traffic, so that it all moves in one direction only. There can be a lane from 3A to 1A, from 3A to the corridor to Artists Alley, from AA to 3B and points south.
I’m also hopeful that the Artists Alley entrances will be open during the day, to siphon traffic away from the main building, and so that people do not have to walk out of the way to get to AA.
I tried registering as a professional (as I have every other year), but Reed was limiting who got them. (My two coworkers did, however.) So Mr. Diggle might have been denied.
Technically, one cannot let someone else use his/her badge. But it will happen.
I hope Reed uses the RFID for crowd control (I expect another visit from the Fire Marshall) and to locate lost people.
If retailers are smart, they’ll bring along a receiver and scan attendee badges for promotions. If ReedPop is clever, they’ll sell the service, linking badges to mailing lists. But that might require some fine print added to the registration page.
Ooooo — RFID chips! If they have the right layout of sensors and software, they could track anyone every second they are at the con, monitoring their collecting preferences, buying habits, potty breaks, etc.
It’s a marketing analyst’s dream come true!
They can also figure out which booths/Artist Alley tables drew the most people.
Ain’t technology grand?
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