The big sporting extravaganzas are coming back... With a bit of planning and lot of tech help, events are returning. Image Credit: SportsPics

The world before the coronavirus seems like a century ago. Whatever way we choose to view the sports and events sector in the UAE, 2020 had significant disruptions.

As a result, sports activities and events were truncated or trimmed, or fell victim to postponement or cancellation. The impact on the economy, in terms of loss of employment, cut to broadcasting revenues, endorsement fees, and gate receipts for hospitality, tour, travel, and other affiliate sectors left stakeholders and venues struggling to determine a course forward.

A survey conducted by the International Live Events Association (ILEA) with around 300 firms in Dubai found that businesses lost between Dhs2.8 billion and Dhs5.5 billion due to the pandemic. Over 2,000 firms working in the sporting and events sector were severely affected, along with symbiotic companies such as tour operators and wedding planners. And not to forget, the thousands of freelancers.

Each cancellation claims jobs

While UAE has been proactive with hybrid events, the job sector has been hit since, aggregately, a single event supports more than 440 jobs, from promoters, to drivers at the venue and apart from managers. But the good news is that the recent ease of COVID-19 related restrictions by Dubai means live events can now be hosted.

Performers and attendees need to be vaccinated, adhere to social distancing guidelines, and wear masks. There needs to be a way that sporting events and other activities can reopen safely and efficiently without causing a third wave.

Throughout the pandemic, technology has come to the fore to help keep people safe and businesses to stay afloat. Indeed, the use of video and sensor technology can help the event and sports sector to keep people comply with the new health and safety regulations.

Navigate the safety path

For example, through real-time video analysis, sports and events management firms can count and monitor the number of individuals in a specific section and send automatic alerts when the maximum number has been surpassed. Further, one can schedule measures for this scenario. This will greatly reduce overcrowding.

Companies can also monitor the number of attendees at a venue, and this is not just by headcount but through video-based access control. With this, we can determine the number of persons to allow in the venue. The ‘one in, one out’ feature alerts attendees when they can enter the venue, which can easily be achieved through a ‘traffic light’, for instance.

Automatic door control can add more functionality to access control. This feature comes in handy if the venues’ automatic doors installed. The doors can be managed from an integrated door control system. This door automatically closes if the number of attendees reaches the maximum count and unlocks when the set number of individuals leave the venue.

Masked or not

Advanced video solutions can also detect if an individual has their mask on or not. This ensures the safety of both the organizers and those in attendance. Furthermore, the monitoring department can keep track and ensure safety protocols are followed to the letter.

In any event, people will likely stand or sit close to each other. Can we help but avoid this? Video technology offers yet another solid solution. There are applications explicitly developed to detect when people are too close to one another or break the set safe distance guidelines in venues. In such a case, an alarm sets off promptly.

We can also leverage technology to intelligently determine highly frequented sections of a venue - where there is an excess number of individuals. Heat maps, alias thermal maps, are extracted from camera footage.

As a result, you can see where customer traffic is high and alarming. This way, sports and event managers can determine red zones in the venues and determine safer routes or depopulate the area, accordingly, to discourage close contact.

With events such as GITEX, GISEC, and the upcoming T20 cricket World Cup, events can take advantage of video technology to ensure safety but also to gain a competitive edge and boost operational efficiency in the events and sport sector. This will help gain the people's trust and participation, which is what every business in Dubai is yearning for.