Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2023
By Nilson Kufus
Ten music fans lost their lives during the 2021 Astroworld Festival in Houstin. Managing a crowd of 50,000 is far from easy, but many still criticized the venue and artist for it’s apparent lack of security measures and planning. This year, pop music superstar Taylor Swift faced an even bigger challenge when her world tour brought crowds of nearly 71,000 people, many even standing outside the venue without tickets. The tour has been so large it is estimated to generate $4.6 billion in total consumer spending, larger than the GDP of 35 countries. But with these numbers came panic for event organizers. Venues such as Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA and Empower Field in Denver CO changed their tailgating policies mere hours before shows, including rules such as no entry into lots without a ticket, extra barricades, and extra security guards.
Organizers of such big concerts need to carefully plan for security to avoid problems. In the past, issues with managing crowds have caused unfortunate incidents.
New technologies such as drones have improved safety preparations for festivals, giving organizers the chance to prevent such tragedies. As a result of the Astroworld incident, event organizers were made painfully aware of the consequences if they fail to properly prepare their safety measures.
Using digital twins for event security
One way organizers are improving security is through "digital twins". Drones and technology have made it possible to create digital replicas of large areas such as the stadiums, parking lots, and roads around and highways leading to where the Taylor Swift hosts her Eras Tour. These digital twins can be made before events to map out the space and address any potential issues. They are versatile and have many uses, including urban planning, real estate, mapping, media, entertainment, and security.
These 3D Digital Twins are highly accurate in terms of both space and time. This accuracy helps security teams make decisions that ensure the safety of concertgoers. With a complete digital twin, security teams can:
Identify vulnerabilities and come up with effective solutions. Spot risks and critical areas such as crowded exits or overly packed spots. Assign staff positions to manage crowds and provide extra supervision. Simulate scenarios to practice for possible issues and prepare accordingly. Develop backup plans to be ready for emergencies.
But how accurate is this technology?
Drones can create detailed copies of physical spaces from above, quickly and cost-effectively, but it requires the right tools to make these lifelike 3D digital twins. Drones are agile and can capture aerial images from various angles and heights, reaching places that are hard and unsafe for people to access.
When considering accuracy, there are two aspects: relative accuracy and absolute accuracy. Relative accuracy deals with how elements are positioned in the digital model. For instance, good relative accuracy means that the distance between two stages on the digital model matches the real-world distance.
Absolute accuracy is about how well the digital model corresponds to the actual geographical location on Earth. For example, absolute accuracy would mean that the exact latitude and longitude of entry gates into SoFi stadium matches the real GPS coordinates.
Drone mapping does both. Once this accurate data is compiled, it is then turned into a complete digitized version of the real world, which can be used to map, plan and predict.
Having an entirely digitized venue both in terms of an extremely accurate, smart (semantically segmented) 3D model and the behaviors that occur within the venue and surrounding town itself (all sorts of spatial data combined) represents a version of the world that can be visible to artificial intelligence. Once it is visible to artificial intelligence, event planners and set builders can predict anything from how a crowd of 50,000 will affect the space to how a natural disaster would impact the area.
Large events, like Astroworld, haven’t used this technology in the past because of high prices and difficulty sourcing, but the most common reason is they were unaware this technology existed.
How event organizers can create digital twins
Luckily drone mapping is now more easily accessible.
This means that readily available drones can be used along with user-friendly image-processing software. This makes it possible for almost anyone to create basic maps and accurate 3D models.
However, event organizers should consider partnering with trusted experts to achieve high-quality results without the learning curve. This lets them focus on their expertise while benefiting from realistic digital models for efficient planning and operations.
With drone technology and advanced software, event organizers and security teams can use these accurate models to improve security planning and enhance safety. Collaborating with partners who can provide this data and create necessary digital twins helps ensure the safety and enjoyment of events like The Taylor Swift Eras Tour and others like it.
About Nilson Kufus
Nilson Kufus is the CEO and co-founder of digital twin and 3D model platform Nomoko. Nilson has a degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences from the University College Maastricht, where he built his curriculum around courses such as business, artificial intelligence, and media. Nilson was a Digital Shaper of Switzerland 2019, and is a TedX Salon speaker and a Guest lecturer at ETH Zürich & FH HWZ. Fun Fact: Nilson Kufus is also a former Swiss figure skating champion.
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