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Issue of August 2004 
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A campus WLAN, RFIDs, biometrics, smart cards, and a wedding

A campus WLAN was deployed in three days to facilitate entrepreneur Subrato Roy's sons' wedding in the 320 acre Sahara Shahar. Wedding invitations had RFIDs to track movement of guests within the campus. by Akhtar Pasha

The Sahara India Parivar's chief Subrata Roy's sons were married between February 10-14, 2004 at a 320 acre campus called Sahara Shahar near Lucknow. Invitations tagged with Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID)-enabled smart cards were sent to around 20,000 invitees, many of whom were from the political, sports, and entertainment world. Other than the guests, there were around 70,000 workers and employees of the Sahara Shahar at the site.

Since the guest list included a number of VIPs, the event needed to have elaborate physical security measures. "Making arrangements for security for the high-profile guests was a major challenge for us," said Naveen Singh, Senior Manager, Sahara Net Corp Ltd.

A campus-wide WLAN network was set up within three days to facilitate security operations at the event. And the RFIDs attached to the invitation cards helped keep track of guests, because certain categories of guests were allowed selective movement within the campus.

Why WLAN

"We deployed a WLAN because we had to provide a high-speed backbone network to enable security operations. And it was the only communications solution that could be deployed within a short span of three days. We also did not want to spoil the aesthetics of the estate because the marriage decorations were already up by then. So there was no scope to dig roads and lay cables," said Singh.

The WLAN was also used to share guest details and manage 35 helpdesks, which were scattered all over the campus. The solution allowed a group of 50 volunteers with notebook PCs to provide live updates to Subrata Roy from time to time. He could watch streaming videos of the guests at various locations and the rituals taking place at the nuptial site.

RFIDs

All the invitation cards had RFID enabled smart cards that had to be carried by the guest for additional security reasons. The campus was divided into specific locations and each category of guests had to enter the estate from separate gates, and flash the smart card to gain entry.

Vendor evaluation

Singh recalls, "Other than D-Link, none of the vendors agreed to execute the WLAN project in such a short notice. We were also comfortable with D-Link because we had partnered with it for other projects in the past."

Designing the WLAN

Yogesh Sharma, General Manager, D-Link India said, "We performed a site survey and feasibility study towards the end of January 2004. We took two days to design the WLAN and calculated the bill of materials. Special emphasis was given to achieve a clear Line Of Sight (LOS)."

"Three personnel worked around-the-clock February 7, connect the remote sites like the auditorium, VIP guest house, lodging, Apna Bazar (shopping mall), P.D guest house, ground, helipad, white house, residence, gym, invitation cell, event office, bus stand, fun world, VIP area, VVIP

food court, and picture hall," he added. The access network and Intranet was connected to the headquarters.

Smart cards

All the volunteers used smart cards, which had stored the individuals' thump impressions. All entry turnstiles had a biometric reader and a smart card reader. The card reader would read the thumb impression and the biometric reader would match the impression, and then allow entry.

Benefits

It was essential to provide very high levels of security at the campus due to the profile of the guests. So the use of the WLAN and RFIDs helped very much to keep track and monitor the movement of invitees and staff in real-time, and allow the helpdesks and personnel to share information easily.

"Setting up wireless infrastructure in such as short notice is something that every Sahariate is proud of," said Singh.

Future plans

Post-marriage, the wireless infrastructure is being used for a number of applications. The Chairman's residence is connected to his office. The Sahara Bhavan, Sahara headquarters, and Sahara Shahar can conduct video-conferences on the WLAN.

The biometrics-based smart card solution is now used by the employees of Sahara Shahar to record attendance.

Products overview

Sahara Net used:
26 DWL-1000 AP (access points)
23 ANT 24-0801 PICO Cell Antennas
Four DWL 1750 Wireless Bridge/Routers
Four 3226S layer-2 managed switches
Eight DES-1008D 8-port switches
Three DCS-2000 IP cameras was also used as on experimental basis.
A Mbps link was used from Bharthi Telecom, along with Sahara Net's own VSAT.

 

In a nutshell
The company
Sahara Shahar is spread over 320 acres near Lucknow. It is a part of Sahara India Parivar, which is a Rs 50,000 crore conglomerate.

The need
In order to provide security to important guests at a large wedding, it was necessary to cerate a WLAN infrastructure to cover the entire campus.

The solution
A WLAN solution was set up in three days along with RFID tags and smart cards for all invitees and personnel.

Benefits
The solution helped coordinate security arrangements for 20,000 guests and 70,000 workers. And after the event, the infrastructure is being to connect the various company locations and conduct video-conferences.

 
     
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