Full-Scale Navigation System Coming to Boston Convention Center

The system, scheduled to launch in March, will provide meeting attendees with turn-by-turn navigation throughout the convention center, to meeting rooms and even specific booths in the exhibit hall.

How often at conferences do you find yourself wandering around the convention center, looking for the next meeting room? Eventually, you learn your way around, but by then it’s probably time to pack up and head home.

We are thinking about technology that meeting attendees will be asking for not just in 2015, but five and 10 years from now.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority has a plan to help attendees find their way through the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center with ease. Last week, the MCCA board approved the installation of a full-building, real-time navigation system at the BCEC. ActivLocator, a geolocation tool developed by Sherpa Solutions, will allow attendees to use turn-by-turn navigation to find their way to a meeting room, exhibit hall, and even specific exhibit booths from anywhere inside the facility.

“It will be a tremendous value-add for our customers because we will be able to map their entire show floors, booth by booth, and customize information such as shuttle drop-off and pickup locations,” Steve Snyder, CIO and CTO at MCCA, said in a statement. “And we can use it internally to map our administrative offices, monitor the safety of the facility, and much more.”

The system will rely on 270 Bluetooth low-energy beacon transmitters to be installed throughout the center that will be accurate to within six feet of where the user is standing—more accurate than a standard car GPS. Meeting attendees will use a mobile app to access the tool, and once downloaded, the app won’t need a cellular or internet connection. Installation is expected to be complete by March.

“We have never been reserved about our mission to remain the most technologically advanced convention centers in the world,” MCCA Executive Director James E. Rooney said in the statement. “We are thinking about technology that meeting attendees will be asking for not just in 2015, but five and 10 years from now. Real-time location services are just one of the technology initiatives we are focused on right now to better serve our customers and their attendees.”

MCCA’s tool is the first of its kind to be employed by a convention center, but several associations have already found ways to implement navigation tech into their meetings. Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals provided conference attendees a navigation-like app for its June 2013 conference, while the Heart Rhythm Society used pressure-sensitive floor mats at a conference to track visits to touchscreen kiosks designed to help attendees find their way around the convention center.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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