UKOLN AHDS Guidelines For Exploiting WiFi Networks At Events

About This Document

Increasingly WiFi networks are available in lecture theatres, conference venues, etc. We are beginning to see various ways in which networked applications are being used to enhance conferences, workshops and lectures [1].

Availability Of The Network

If you are considering making use of a WiFi network to support an event you will need to ensure that (a) a WiFi network is available; (b) costs, if any, for use of the network and (c) limitations, if any, on use of the network. Note that even if a WiFi network is available, usage may restricted (e.g. to academic users; local users; etc.)

Demand From The Participants

There may be a danger in being driven by the technology (just because a WiFi network is available does not necessarily mean that the participants will want to make use of it). Different groups may have differing views on the benefits of such technologies (e.g. IT-focussed events or international events attracting participants from North America may be particularly interested in making use of WiFi networks).

If significant demand for use of the WiFi network is expected you may need to discuss this with local network support staff to ensure that (a) the network has sufficient bandwidth to cope with the expected traffic and (b) other networked services have sufficient capacity (e.g. servers handling logins to the network).

Proactive Or Reactive Approach?

You may choose to provide details of how to access the WiFi network and leave the participants to make use of it as they see fit. Alternatively you may wish to manage the way in which it is used, and provide details of networked applications to support the event, as described in [2], [3] and [4].

Financial And Administrative Issues

If there is a charge for use of the network you will have to decide how this should be paid for? You may choose to let the participants pay for it individually. Alternatively the event organisers may chose to cover the costs.

You will also have to set up a system for managing usernames and passwords for accessing the WiFi network. You may allocate usernames and passwords as participants register or they may have to sign a form before receiving such details.

Support Issues

There will be a need to address the support requirements to ensure that effective use is made of the technologies.

There may be a need to provide training and to ensure participants are aware of how the networked technologies are being used.
Event Organisers, Speakers, etc.
Event organisers, chairs or sessions, speakers, etc should also be informed of how the networked technologies may be used and may wish to give comments on whether this is appropriate.
An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) should be provided which addresses issues such as privacy, copyright, distraction, policies imposed by others, etc.
It would be advisable to evaluate use of technologies in order to inform planning for future events.

Physical And Security Issues

You will need to address various issues related to the venue and the security of computers. For example, you may need to provide advice on where laptop users should sit (often next to a power supply and possibly away from people who do not wish to be distracted by noise). There will also be health and safety issues to consider. There will also be issues regarding the physical security of computers and the security against viruses, network attacks, etc.


  1. Using Networked Technologies To Support Conferences, Kelly, B. et al, EUNIS 2005,
  2. Exploiting Networked Applications At Events, QA Focus briefing document no. 106,
  3. Use Of Social Tagging Services At Events, QA Focus briefing document no. 105,
  4. Guide To The Use Of Wikis At Events, QA Focus briefing document no. 104,