Pangiam, CLEAR, and others make a “sporting” effort to deny (or allow) stadium access

Back when I initially entered the automated fingerprint identification systems industry in the last millennium, I primarily dealt with two markets: the law enforcement market that seeks to solve crimes and identify criminals, and the welfare benefits market that seeks to make sure that the right people receive benefits (and the wrong people don’t).

Other markets simply didn’t exist. If I pulled out my 1994-era mobile telephone and looked at it, nothing would happen. Today, I need to look at my 2020-era mobile telephone to obtain access to its features.

And there are other biometric markets also.

Pangiam and stadium bans

Back in 1994 I couldn’t envision a biometrics story in Sports Illustrated magazine. But SI just ran a story on how facial recognition can be used to keep fans out of stadiums who shouldn’t be there.

Some fans (“fanatics”) perform acts in stadiums that cause the sports teams and/or stadium authorities to officially ban them from the stadium, sometimes for life.

John Green is the man in the blue shirt and white baseball cap to Artest’s left. By Copyright 2004 National Basketball Association. – Television broadcast of the Pacers-Pistons brawl on ESPN., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6824157

But in the past, these measures were ineffective.

For a long time, those “measures” were limited at best. Fans do not have to show ID upon entering arenas. Teams could run checks on all the credit cards to purchase tickets to see whether any belonged to banned fans, but those fans could easily have a friend buy the tickets. 

But there are other ways to enforce stadium bans, and Sports Illustrated quoted an expert on the matter.

“They’ve kicked the fan out; they’ve taken a picture—that fan they know,” says Shaun Moore, CEO of a facial-recognition company called Trueface. “The old way of doing things was, you give that picture to the security staff and say, ‘Don’t let this person back in.’ It’s not really realistic. So the new way of doing it is, if we do have entry-level cameras, we can run that person against everyone that’s coming in. And if there’s a hit, you know then; then there’s a notification to engage with that person.”

This, incidentally, is an example of a “deny list,” or the use of a security system to deny a person access. We’ll get to that later.

But did you notice the company that was mentioned in the last quote? I’ve mentioned that company before, because Trueface was the most recent acquisition by the company Pangiam, a company that has also acquired airport security technology.

But Pangiam/Trueface isn’t the only company serving stadium (and entertainment) venues.

CLEAR and stadium entry

Most of the time, sports stadiums aren’t concentrating on the practice of DENYING people entry to a stadium. They make a lot more money by ALLOWING people entry to a stadium…and allowing them to enter as quickly as possible so they can spend money on concessions.

One such company that supports this is CLEAR, which was recently in the news because of its Initial Public Offering. Coincidentally, CLEAR also provides airport security technology, but it has branched out from that core market and is also active in other areas.

For example, let’s say you’re a die-hard New York Mets fan, and you head to Citi Field to watch a game.

By Chris6d – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101751795

The Mets don’t just let anyone into the stadium; you have to purchase a ticket. So you need to take your ticket out of your pocket and show it to the gate staff, or you need to take your smartphone out of your pocket and show your digital ticket to the gate staff.

What if you could get into the stadium without taking ANYTHING out of your pocket? Well, you can.

In the CLEAR Lane, your fingerprint is all you need to use tickets in your MLB Ballpark app – no need to pull out your phone or printed ticket as you enter the game.

Now that is really easy.

Pangiam and CLEAR aren’t the only companies in this space, as I well know. But there’s the possibility that biometrics will be used more often for access to sports games, concerts, and similar events.

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