Monday, June 05, 2006

The Gatekeepers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It's not hard to see why FIFA, soccer's governing body, chose Munich, Germany, to host the 2006 World Cup's opening ceremonies and match. The city's 69,000-seat soccer stadium, Allianz Arena, is a spectacle itself. Finished in April 2005 at a cost of €280 million, the orb-like structure's fa├žade radiates color thanks to three thousand foil panels that can each glow red, white or blue.

The stadium also showcases hooligan-addled FIFA's efforts when it comes to safety and security. Take the automated access system, which can admit those 69,000 fans in an hour and a half, funnel supporters of opposing teams to separate sections, track occupancy of those sections in real time, block tickets in the event of theft or loss, and regulate turnstiles to ensure orderly exits.

For the designer of that access system, SkiData of Salzburg, Austria, the World Cup is no less of a showcase event. The company, which is owned by Geneva-listed Kudelski, a Swiss technology group, hopes the tournament's exposure will entice more customers, notably North American ones, to upgrade to its ticketing gear.

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