Scouts barcoded at 2007 Jamboree

Corralling 13,000 teenagers has never been easier

More than 10,000 scouts and scout leaders will sport barcoded bracelets as opposed to woggles at the 2007 Australian Scouts Jamboree so medical teams and event officials can instantly confirm someone's identification and special medical needs.

The Jamboree, currently held near Bendigo, Victoria, features a wireless backbone running segregated networks for specialist areas around the camp site as well as IP telephony.

Some 25 Linear Imaging Barcode scanners have been tweaked to work with PDAs (HP iPAQ hx 2790) which are used by the Jamboree officials.

The scanners use software developed by Best Practice Software to collect and store information in a central database. Some 65 desktops and 45 laptops running AMD processors have been provided by HP for the scouting festival.

Andrew Rothwell, information systems manager for the 2007 Australian Jamboree, said this is the first scout event to use an integrated barcode ID system for security and data privacy.

Rothwell said the organization considered using RFID tags, but held off due to the immaturity of the technology.

So far the barcodes have mostly been used to notify Jamboree nurses and doctors of the health needs of the scouts.

But they have been very successful across transport, logistics, medical and security.

"Scanning a barcode is much easier than looking through a storeroom of documents," Rothwell said.

"We have not collected enough data to model behaviour but we do know if the scouts have gone offsite. We also know which bus they have boarded;

At the Jamboree there is 13,000 people on site and 4000 move off site every day to go to a "bushwack" (camping) site 6km out or they travel to a nearby lake for water sports so tracking them is important.

Additionally, he said the medical team asked for a way to access medical records easily and barcodes were seamless and not costly.

Rothwell said on the first day of the Jamboree scouts aged 11-15 were issued wrist bands with the barcode attached plus a barcoded lanyard.

The are scanned when leaving the Jamboree site and once again when they return.

At the end of the day Rothwell said they can then match up the numbers and if they do not add up, go out and start looking.

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