Multi-million pound infrastructure investment revolutionises technology offering at the NEC

16 February 2022 Becky Humphries
  • First venue in the UK to adopt WaitTime AI for real-time capacity and crowd management


  • Improved Wi-Fi connectivity for organisers, exhibitors and visitors using Cisco technology


The UK’s best-connected venue, the NEC, has today announced the completion of a £7 million technology infrastructure investment across the venue.

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The Birmingham-based NEC is the first venue in the UK to adopt WaitTime, an artificial intelligence solution that provides real-time measurement of venue capacity and crowd density. By developing this new relationship with WaitTime, the venue, which attracts 2.3 visitors annually, has further enhanced its data capabilities. Capacity counting is safe and sharper, compliant venue operations are maintained and the software provides robust crowd data and business intelligence information.

With a majority of ‘Venue Protect’ COVID safety measures still in place, WaitTime's patented technology also alerts the NEC to capacity issues across the site. The data can then be used to trigger operational responses and inform the teams on real-time capacity levels.  

"It's no surprise that as the UK's largest exhibition venue, the NEC is on the forefront of innovation and adoption of technologies like WaitTime. Using artificial intelligence to manage crowds and capacity levels is going to help them increase operational efficiencies and, ultimately, create better guest and vendor experiences - that's what WaitTime is all about," said Zachary Klima, CEO of WaitTime.

Another integral aspect of the investment is the venue’s Wi-Fi upgrade, utilising technology developed by the globally renowned, Cisco. This Wi-Fi upgrade has installed 1800 state-of-the-art Wi-Fi access points eliminating all black spots in all public spaces.

In addition to replacing the Wi-Fi, all wired, corporate and event networks have also been replaced giving greater capacity and bandwidth which supports organisers and exhibitors, increasing connectivity at events and broadening access to more digital content.

Commenting on the Wi-Fi enhancement, Ian Solomon, Director of Operations at Hyve Group, said: “During 2021’s Autumn Fair, it was clear from an organisers perspective that improvements were being made to the NEC’s Wi-Fi infrastructure. It gave us the confidence to direct visitors to download and use our show app using the venue’s free Wi-Fi. As a result, we generated a significant increase in visitor engagement.”

Ian Taylor, Managing Director for NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions added: “Our new Wi-Fi solution teamed with WaitTime’s crowd and business intelligence is revolutionary. The NEC Group is a data-led business and it is investments like this that help to keep us at the cutting edge of live event innovation.”