Published On: April 11, 2022Categories: BlogBy

Here at Accredit Solutions, we are often asked about the best scanning technologies to use at events and the answer really depends on our clients’ objectives and budgets. Whatever is best suited, we have a vast amount of experience in all scanning technologies and here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of each, learned through global experience working with many of the world’s leading organisations.

The Barcode

What is a barcode:

The barcode is the technology that’s been with us for the longest, and the one that we are most familiar with, seeing it every time we pop out to do some shopping. A barcode is a set of defined dark and white bars set out in a row and there are dozens of barcode types used for a variety of uses.

How does it work?

A barcode is read by a barcode scanner, which is made up of three parts, the illuminator, the converter, and the decoder. Essentially it flashes a light against the barcode and reads what bounces back. For your accreditation badge, this is then decoded and referred back to your database to see who has just been scanned and their access rights, whether that be for a date, a time, an area or even a privilege such as catering or parking.

What are the strengths of a barcode?

  • Allows for real-time data scanning
  • It is a mature and proven technology
  • It is inexpensive to use
  • It is smaller and lighter compared to other options, like RFID
  • No specialist hardware is needed for scanning, A smartphone or an android device can be used to scan

What are the weaknesses of a barcode?

  • Damaged barcodes may not scan correctly
  • Barcodes can be copied/replicated
  • They can use more room on badges
  • Barcode scanners direct line of sight to read the barcode
  • Barcodes have no read/write capabilities

QR Codes

What is a QR Code:

QR stands for Quick Response, like a barcode, it works using white and dark modules, in this instance as squares rather than lines. While QR Codes have been around for a while, it was the COVID-19 pandemic where they exploded onto the mainstream consciousness through the use in hospitality establishments to have contactless menus, order placement and of course the track and trace of movements.

How does it work?

A QR Code works in the same way as a barcode, each black and white square represents a piece of information. When it is scanned this information is transformed into human-readable data to control access and privileges.

What are the strengths of a QR Code?

  • A smartphone with a camera can become a QR Code reader, so there is no need for specialist hardware
  • It is a mature and proven technology
  • It is inexpensive to use
  • There is a wide range of styles and designs you can use, including different colours

What are the weaknesses of a QR Code?

  • Like barcodes, damaged QR codes may not scan correctly
  • QR codes can be copied/replicated
  • Although they can be small in size space is still used on the badge
  • Not very aesthetic, contains random patterns of square boxes, which might not look pleasing on accreditation passes.

RFID

What is RFID?

The newest of all three on the list, Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, works by utilising electromagnetic fields to identify objects like badges, that have a small tag incorporated into them.

How does it work?

An accreditation badge that utilises RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) will rely on the tag to hold the information required about the person. As the person comes into contact with an RFID reader the tag will be picked up and the information relayed across to the receiver where it will be fed into the access control software.

What are the strengths of RFID?

  • Increased security as the data held within the tags requires specialist equipment to access it
  • If using stand-off RFID readers, no human element for scanning is needed
  • Stand-off RFID allows the ability to track the movements of people more precisely within an area
  • The most secure method of all the technologies and can easily be embedded into badges, wristbands, and tags

What are the weaknesses of RFID?

  • It is the most expensive of the three options
  • RFID is the most complex in setting up
  • Requires specialist hardware for coding and scanning

Choosing the right scanning technology

Each option comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. What is right for one situation may not be right for another. Budgets, profile, and risk status of an event can all clearly play a part in the decision-making process, however, all these technology options coupled with an advanced access control application will keep your event secure.

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