Digitization Of Sports And Event Venues Accelerating Sustainable Cities

aware_ member Fujitsu discusses necessary digitization strategies for sports and event venues and how this digitization can make a decisive contribution to sustainability

With its seven million members, soccer is the most popular sport in Germany. In Germany alone, the more than 90 stadiums provide meeting places for games and fans (erima). Today, however, they are also far more than just venues for national and international soccer matches. They are a platform for B2C events such as concerts, boxing matches, public viewing or gaming conventions as well as B2B events such as conferences and congresses, summer festivals, international conferences and trade fairs but above all for social identity and change. It is therefore no wonder that event venues also play an important part when it comes to sustainable and climate-friendly design: major events can help to set standards with appropriate measures – not only to limit the negative environmental impacts, but also to be a role model for national or smaller events. What works on a small scale of venues, is a blueprint for e.g., transport hubs in cities: Sustainably designed venues, and attractive offers for the use of environmentally friendly means of transport can help to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. Furthermore, smart event design and possibilities of digitization can, for example, prevent flyers, paper plates and cups from generating immense amounts of rubbish and endangering biological diversity.  Stadiums and arenas can thus act as digital lighthouses for an entire region or metropolitan areas as accelerators in scaling solutions that directly address, or impact, sustainability.

As far as soccer is concerned, however, there is still room for improvement: in terms of electricity consumption, the matches do not fare well: one match consumes around 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, which is equivalent to almost six times the annual electricity consumption of a two-person household in Germany (barfi.ch). With just over 300 Bundesliga matches per year, this adds up to quite a lot, which in turn shows the great influence soccer has in our society and how important change is here. Digitization and connectivity of event venues and their systems can be a remedy in this scenario: A smart event design connects and optimizes technology and processes during building use. As a smart building, the event venue controls energy consumption, for example. It uses tracking sensors to record the behavior of its users and adapts to the operating conditions. In this way, both the economic savings potential is optimally exploited, and emissions are saved.  

Yet, unfortunately, today, all soccer stadiums in Germany have one thing in common: They are still largely analog and not connected – starting with the arrival and departure of the fans before and after a match, which causes every mobility concept to fail. Also, during the event, visitors are always drawn to snack stands and WC during breaks, which in turn causes long waiting times and queues. Today’s soccer stadiums are still a long way from intelligent visitor control. 

So, what does it take to make event venues smart and sustainable?


aware_ sat down with aware_ member Jörn Nitschmann, Head of Manufacturing and Automotive Central Europe at Fujitsu Central Europe (D-A-CH), to talk about the necessary digitization strategies for sports and event venues and how this digitization can make a decisive contribution to sustainability. 

aware_: Given that Fujitsu is a technology company, what is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the digitization of sports and event venues? 

Jörn Nitschmann: Let us take the soccer stadium as an example: it consists of different infrastructures – starting with the seats, parking spaces, access and exit routes, public transport connections, etc. These infrastructures are currently little or not at all digitized and connected. The result: traffic gridlock at sports events. However, the technologies and data for revolutionizing the analog visitor experience are already available today: parking sensors, intermodal route planners, historical and real-time traffic data, mobile trackers aka smartphones. Using these technologies and data, a smart app for example could combine the best possible start of the journey with the predefined mobility concept and current traffic as well as visitor flow in the stadium, so that one arrives there in the selected time corridor of the game. 

aware_: What would that look like for a fan visiting their favorite soccer team? 

Jörn Nitschmann: Digital services in stadium operations such as ticketing services or a live ticker are already implemented in apps. However, a Digital Soccer Champion goes one step further: They use movement and traffic data in and around the stadium and develop best possible visitor and traffic Artificial Intelligence-based simulations. The result: a so-called prediction model, which, fed into a fan journey, prevents traffic gridlock in advance because it shows the alternative routes before the journey.


aware_: What are the benefits of the digitization of sports and event venues? 

Jörn Nitschmann: Once the visitor arrives at the venue, queue management, intelligent access control, navigation through the venue and emergency management are just some of the many benefits. Digitization of a large venue can include lighting and sound, location-based services, modern hospitality, digital signing, mobile payments not just for ticketing, and, as just mentioned, mobility. The visitor experiences a digital modernization of their visit, making it more convenient, secure and enjoyable. In short, state-of-the-art technology enables the digitization of diverse processes in an event venue and allows the creation of new, visitor-centric business models for stadium and arena operators.  

aware_: How can smart event design and digitization of events contribute to sustainability? 

Jörn Nitschmann: The digitization of event venues makes a fundamental contribution to sustainability. A smart venue helps improve energy consumption, facility management (e.g., waste monitoring and cleaning), mobility, parking management, and, for sports venues, on-demand watering of the playing field. It digitally manages the respective capacities along the complete visitor journey: public and individual transport, parking, footpaths etc. With less parking spaces than seats in most event venues, the parking battle and thus the bottleneck are already pre-programmed at every event. At this point, for example, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Twin, IoT or 5G not only make active recommendations, but also create a resource-friendly and intelligent ecosystem in the venue for both operators and visitors; for example, in emergencies, emergency management becomes more efficient. Whether car sharing or connecting mobility via micromobility – if we network and manage capacities in event venues and cities throughout the day, we act more sustainably. With little to no congestion and fewer CO2 emissions, the entire venue contributes to sustainability. 

For a deeper insight into Fujitsu’s sustainable business concept and how to make sustainability the core of a company, visit the aware_ masterclass on December 1 with Jörn Nitschmann, Head of Manufacturing and Automotive at Fujitsu Central Europe, Mel Melis, Director Interregional Engagement, Sustainability Unit at Fujitsu, and Sophie Kazmierczak, Sustainable Finance Manager at Next Generation Invest. For more information, visit https://aware-theplatform.com/masterclass-010/. 

by Marie Klimczak

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