CONTRIBUTOR
Business Development Director,
Americas at Veridas

With the NFL season underway, fans everywhere are eager to snag tickets for the next big Sunday night game. The thrill of the sport naturally pulls large crowds into stadiums across the country, with average attendance reaching nearly 70,000 per game. Yet, the outdated ticketing methods often turn what should be a highlight into a drawn-out hassle filled with queues. It’s clear that a more efficient and secure way of getting fans into stadiums is long overdue.

This is where facial recognition plays a significant role. This technology allows fans to breeze through the gates in seconds without needing physical or digital tickets. Imagine walking up to the entrance, being instantly recognized and stepping right into the stadium to catch the action, all while knowing you’re in a secure environment.

However, the current ticketing system often restricts fans from this privilege. 

The Current Fourth-and-Long: Stadium Entry in the NFL

Traditionally, fans have relied on paper tickets or digital QR codes to get through the gates. This often leads to long waits, especially at high-profile stadiums. For instance, the Ohio Stadium had introduced digital ticket scanners for the first time, and it resulted in a severe bottleneck at two entry points, compelling police to step in. The scanners, used to read tickets on mobile phones, caused significant delays for thousands of fans. The footage revealed crowds pressing against gates on the stadium’s south side, brandishing their phones to display their tickets. The congestion and disorder at these gates reached a level that necessitated police intervention.

But the issues don’t end with just the wait times. Lost tickets, malfunctioning QR scanners and bottlenecks from everyone trying to enter simultaneously can make the experience even more frustrating. Considering the intense summer heat in some states, by the time fans get to their seats, they might already be tired and exhausted.

Facial access has potential to change the game. Once fans consent, the club registers them using their ID photo. The next time they attend a game, they simply walk up to a facial recognition terminal, which grants access in seconds. This means no more juggling tickets or mobile apps; just a quick scan and you’re in. The fans don’t have to wait in long lines to get into the stadium.

Tackling the Opposition: Dispelling Myths About Facial Access

There has been some stigma around facial authentication, and the top worry for many people is typically around data privacy. The concern is about whether biometric information could be misused, accessed without permission or kept indefinitely, creating a risk of future data breaches.

With this in mind, these systems must be developed with strict compliance with data protection laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The approach is rooted in “privacy by default and design,” meaning that the technology is built to protect fans’ data from potential risks. In technical terms, photos are turned into biometric vectors that can’t be reversed, stolen or used for anything else. The system does not store the user’s personal information or the generated biometric vectors. After completing the task and transmitting the data to the client, all information on the servers is automatically erased.

It’s important that stadiums implement biometrics as an optional system. If an individual is uncomfortable with it, they can still go the traditional route for entry. 

The Game Plan: Implementing Biometrics in NFL Stadiums

Security is vital to any sports gathering, and biometrics offer a robust solution to enhance it. In line with tightening regulations, sports leagues increasingly adopt identification controls for improved safety. Opt-in biometric verification is already being used in stadiums across the globe. Just last month, Santa Laura stadium in Chile, home to the Cruzados football team, implemented facial recognition systems at its entrances. This means that fans can use facial recognition to grant access to facilities or redeem tickets. These regulations stem from a broader law that tackles issues like violence and intolerance in sports venues. It adds an extra layer of security for fans, ensuring everyone can enjoy the game with peace of mind.

Facial access systems fit well within this framework. They streamline entry and offer a reliable method for identifying fans, complying with security regulations and enhancing overall safety. 

The Future of Facial Access in the NFL

Facial access sets the stage for a much more enjoyable match day experience, where users don’t have to worry about long queues and wait times. Like facial recognition, other verification forms like voice biometrics are also used. While facial access are the best solution for stadiums, voice technology can verify a person’s identity for other crucial authentications like bank accounts. Facial access is known for streamlining user experience and providing a stress-free experience.

Additionally, from a safety perspective, facial access offers a robust solution for sporting events against typical problems like ticket forgery or theft. The technology ensures that everyone entering the venue is properly identified and verified before they enter the gate.

Overall, facial access technology presents a groundbreaking solution for enhancing fan experience and security at NFL games. Streamlining entry and bolstering safety measures offers a win-win scenario for fans and stadiums alike. The NFL should embrace this innovation for a smoother, safer game day.