How Digital Technology Can Support Large Scale Event Planning
You’ve been excited about seeing Kylie Minogue for months. She’s on the Pyramid stage until 5pm, but next up is Miley Cyrus, who is less appealing. In fact, you’d quite like to check out fresh young talent Tom Walker on the John Peel stage. You’ll probably need some well-earned refreshments afterward, and then you want to round off the weekend with The Cure–but unfortunately, they’re all the way back on the main stage again…
This problem was one enjoyed by Matt Lakin, Project Manager at Interserve, when he went to the famous Glastonbury festival this summer. He was facing the logistical “nightmare” of planning how to see all his favourite bands over many miles of campsite in just one afternoon.
A man after our own hearts, Matt decided to use PlanGrid to plot his optimum route (and no, we don’t know if Kylie was really his favourite act). But digital tools are also relevant when you’re tackling the somewhat harder logistical challenge of organising and running a festival.
Tents, Toilets, Performers and Pies
It’s no mean feat to organise large scale events, whether it’s a festival, sports tournament or even an exhibition. First, you have to design a site that can accommodate vast numbers of people; Glastonbury played host to 203,500 attendees in 2019. That means providing multiple facilities, including parking, toilets, water–and of course, food and drink–across 900 acres of farmland.
The site has to be safe and secure while the event is in progress. The layout has to safely accommodate the sheer volume of people, with health centres and access points for the emergency services. Staff need detailed information on the site plan and emergency procedures, to support in the event of any incident.
And, of course, most events are temporary and held in a wide range of unusual locations. Glastonbury, like most festivals, is in a field–unfortunately without the usual power and water infrastructure. But some events also temporarily take over other venues; a recent week of concerts in the ancient Trinity College Dublin saw artists such as Paul Weller and Stereophonics take to the outdoor stage in the city centre campus.
The festival site has to be assembled on a tight schedule and disassembled without leaving anything behind. Today, more and more events are following the example of Burning Man and pledging to minimise their impact on the environment; Glastonbury implemented a plastic bottle ban this year. All of this adds up to a construction challenge that might be daunting to even the most experienced project managers.
From Fields to Exhibition Halls
Digital technology can support with the set up and management of an event, particularly through mobile collaboration tools like PlanGrid. Team members can access detailed digital drawings in the palm of their hand, as well as other key information like safety regulations and procedures. And critically, digital tools eliminate the need to drag reams of paper to a muddy field.
AbraxysGlobal has been using PlanGrid for some time, albeit in the slightly cleaner venues of exhibition halls. The company oversees the construction of stands and exhibits at trade shows, taking responsibility for ensuring that all exhibitors adhere to relevant safety regulations for the entirety of each event. That traditionally involved huge numbers of A1 sheets, mapping out the locations and layouts of up to 2,000 stands.
With PlanGrid, AbraxysGlobal can upload the stand plans, technical floorplans and general event regulations to the digital platform, giving the site team immediate access to all key data on their mobile devices for the duration of the show. This makes responding to incidents on the show floor much quicker, as they can be tagged immediately on digital maps. The company has dispensed with the need for time-consuming triplicate sign off sheets, offering a smoother process to resolve any issues on the show floor.
It’s also easy to create reports, with all comments date stamped to satisfy health and safety requirements. And when the show is over, the data can be saved and analysed for reference, enabling the business to manage events even more effectively in the future. Whatever the occasion or location, digital tools can offer similar benefits during the assembly and operation of temporary events.
A Digital Helping Hand
The world of construction might seem a long way away from star-studded performers like The Killers and Stormzy. But whether you’re organising one of the summer’s hottest events or just going along to enjoy the show, digital technology can help to make sure you have a great time.
Hear how Matt Lakin and Interserve have benefited with PlanGrid here.