Phoenix Convention Center Joins Worker Identification System Badge Program

April 10, 2015

Phoenix Convention Center is joining the Worker Identification System (WIS) that will require a national identification badge for trade show labor starting in July 2015. Workers setting up and moving shows in and out will have to display a valid WIS badge with their name, photo and a scannable barcode.

Powered by the Exhibition Services Contractors Association (ESCA), the WIS program is aimed at providing a uniform form of identification for exhibition workers in a form of photo ID badges connected to a database. The system assists venues in security for their events and can also help contractors keep track of their labor and manage payroll. The benefit for workers is that they can use the same ID badge at all participating venues around the nation.

The program started in 2009 at the Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center and currently includes 12 convention centers, with almost 24,000 badges in use.

 “Joining was a simple decision to make,” said Kevin Mattingly, Phoenix Convention Center deputy director.   “It’s industry driven and it’s a good security tool. It gives another layer of assurance to our clients, and we have a higher level of control over who’s on the floor.”

The system has three levels, from visual badge checking to daily tracking to advance labor call notifications from union hall and contractors to venue.

A WIS badge does not grant the bearer access to any events in any venues. The badge merely verifies that the individual is approved to enter the venue, if they are being employed by a contractor working on the specific event. Security for specific events is still in force and all workers must be cleared to enter the events via the normal security requirements in effect for the specific events, according to program rules.

Mattingly noted that starting July 1, workers will be required to display the WIS badge when working on the convention center premises and also noted that it may take longer than three months to get everyone on board. The convention center will work with the stakeholders to promote the program, assist with getting temporary badges and enforce compliance going forward.

“Being an ESCA building is another reason to come to Phoenix with your show,” he said. “You know that people on the showfloor are the pros that belong there.”

ESCA Executive Director Larry Arnaudet noted the positive feedback from contractors and workers in Phoenix and is optimistic about the overall growing industry support.  “The issues of security are on the forefront in a lot of people’s minds,” he said.

While most participating convention centers just go with the visual level at this point, six use the scanning capabilities. Arnaudet predicts that more will follow suit as the practice becomes demanded by exhibitors. To accommodate evolving security needs, the badges can also be programmed to hold biometric information and RFIDs. “Eventually facilities will have to have RFID technology in their buildings and we’re ready,” he said.

Among the venues considering joining are Baltimore Convention Center, Las Vegas’ Sands Expo Center and Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.

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