World Cup Crowd Management is a Problem. How Can Facility Managers Turn a Challenge into an Opportunity?

All eyes are on Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup this month. While the action on the field should be most important (including the historic Moroccan upset 2010 World Cup Champion Spain), many other issues have plagued the tournament. World Cup crowd management is one of these, a natural consequence of a country with previously little infrastructure to support an international sporting tournament attempting to welcome more than 1.2 million visitors (as much as one third of Qatar’s total population).

During the course of preparations, Qatar spent around $200 billion on infrastructure improvements. While they were able to pull off the development of several stadiums (which is mired in its own controversy), World Cup crowd management has proved more difficult than expected. On-the-ground reports share issues like thousands of fans unable to access the Fan Festival site due to undersized venues, “shoulder to shoulder” walkways, long metro station lines, crowded exits, you name it.

Solving this is no easy task, but many facility managers turn to technology solutions like queue management and crowd analysis tech to make a difference. As we look at Qatar’s challenges, how can crowd management challenges like these actually be an opportunity to rethink facility operations in ways that create customer experience and revenue opportunities? Zack Klima, CEO at WaitTime, a real-time AI-powered crowd behavior monitoring system (recently deployed at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium), explains how venues should weigh the various motiavators for improving crowd management, and how those layers can help inform an intentional strategy for deploying crowd management solutions.

Zack’s Thoughts

“I really break down the applications post-covid regarding WaitTime into two different buckets. The first one is risk. So within the risk bucket there’s really two different ways you can look at this and it all happens to be around health and safety. Knowing where people are inside your venue is key.

And now I think we’re past the, “is WaitTime accurate?” Now that they understand that it’s very accurate and the data is razor sharp, knowing where people are in your venue has a lot to do with health and safety. With that being said, what does that mean? Knowing where people are at ingress points, knowing how many people are crowding around a certain sponsorship activation, knowing where people are regarding bathrooms, knowing where people are with concessions, there’s so much you can do with this information from a health and safety standpoint. Overcrowding, knowing where crowds are and getting alerted where crowds are is very important in the post-pandemic world of sports and entertainment. So that’s the first bucket, is risk.

And now the second bucket is opportunity. So, knowing where people are inside your venue is incredibly important because of, and I’ll name off a couple of them. Number one is sponsorship activation. If you have an activation, Coca-Cola or Pepsi within your venue, WaitTime’s data can provide that sponsored back with metrics based off of the efficiency of that sponsorship activation.

So how many people pass this sponsorship activation? How effective was it? How effective was that digital sign that has Coke or Pepsi on it? There’s so many different applications regarding monitoring crowd flow.”

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