4IT Solutions and Aruba Stage a Cutting-Edge Wireless Technology Display
Our use is concentrated in a very short period of the year, and during this time the entire infrastructure must be more reliable in providing our services. The flexibility introduced by the new system has permitted us to achieve high levels of security and efficiency. This means we can save time, allowing us to optimise the effectiveness of our resources, but above all it has solved the problems we have had in the past.
Malcolm Tunzi, Head of Information Technology
Founded nearly 70 year ago, the Locarno International Film Festival is one of the oldest and best-known cinema festivals in the world. Held in the evocative Piazza Grande square, the festival draws a huge audience of enthusiasts and experts each summer, filling the town of Locarno in the first two weeks of August. The jewel in the crown of the festival is its cinema screen, which is one of the largest in the world at 26 by 14 metres, big enough to be seen by an audience of 8,000.
The large number of attendees, the huge size of the square (7,560 square metres) and the problems created by a large number of wireless devices packed into one area had made festival entry management more and more difficult each year.
In order to make checking tickets at the turnstiles go more smoothly and accurately than in previous years, it was necessary to rework the Wi-Fi network.
Despite the complexity of the request and the uncertainty of the project's outcome, 4IT Solutions and Aruba were up to the challenge.
After collecting the project requirements and potential problems, together with Aruba, an in-depth analysis was performed which found that the 2.4GHz (unlicensed) band was saturated and there was a high level of disturbance due to numerous sources of interference; these are difficult to control due to the open space, the presence of numerous businesses and the nature of the interference itself, which is often intermittent.
Among the critical factors to consider were some limitations of the barcode scanners, specifically the configurability of their optimisation parameters and their integrated antennas, which are not just limited in power, but operate only on the 2.4GHz band.
The first phase saw an appropriate network topology mapped out, with the most favourable installation positions for the Access Points identified. Subsequently, specific settings were configured to adapt the solution to situations with overcrowding and high levels of interference.
Nevertheless, the tests performed on the system before it went live could never be entirely representative as it was impossible to reproduce the exact number of devices and people that would be in the square. For this reason, fine-tuning the system directly in the production phase was unavoidable.
On the occasion of the first evening with high levels of attendance, the transmission channels were indeed reconfigured, and the reliability and stability of the wireless connections checked using the spectrum analysis functions included in the Access Points.
Constant monitoring was then performed throughout the event in order to evaluate the evolution of interference in the square and take preventive action to counter it.
The Aruba AP 275 Access Points proved themselves to be the best solution to handle the requirements of such a high-density and high-interference Wi-Fi environment as the Locarno International Film Festival. In this specific case, the limitations of the barcode scanners led to the adoption of 802.11n technology operating on the 2.4GHz band. Being enterprise-class solutions, it was possible to integrate them with the existing infrastructure quickly and transparently.
The technical solution developed with Aruba allowed the critical requirements imposed by such a densely crowded environment to be met, reducing background noise and creating a stable and secure solution.
Despite there being over 250 Access Points operating simultaneously and over 15,000 wireless devices present at the event, the results provided effective mobile coverage throughout the square, with high signal quality allowing the 164,000 attendees over the duration of the festival to be scanned quickly and efficiently.
One of the long-term benefits of the new Aruba solution is the ability to use the same wireless structure to provide a public Wi-Fi service and develop applications aimed at the event's participants.
4IT Solutions supported the design, configuration and monitoring phases for the network equipment as well as the implementation of the Aruba infrastructure, guaranteeing a high level of quality in providing the service and performing a key role throughout the project.
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