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OnePlan’s ‘game-changing’ tech solution for event organisers

September 14 2023

Paul Foster, OnePlan founder and CEO, outlines how the technology provider is working with a range of high-profile partners in a bid to reduce the impact of sporting events on the environment.

OnePlan’s ‘game-changing’ tech solution for event organisers

Scrutiny of the sustainable credentials of sporting events is only increasing as the issue becomes more important to attendees, commercial partners and rights-holders.

However, for event organisers that are serious about minimising an event’s carbon footprint, their efforts can start well before the spectacle kicks off.

Site visits have long been viewed by organisers and their partners as necessary evils in preparing to deliver an event that makes a positive impact. However, this is where technology can play a vital role – and specifically providers like OnePlan can help to drive change.

Venue replicas

The event-planning platform enables replicas of venues to be created that are bespoke to a client’s needs and encompasses a collaborative set of tools that are accessible from anywhere so different teams can work remotely in real time.

The platform and tools on offer to the organisers also mean each event can be optimised in areas like fan transport, waste and energy consumption. Clients can better visualise, plan and share their event whilst drastically reducing the costly, time-consuming and gas-guzzling in-person site visits – and the results can be significant.

For example, Sweetspot, the events company behind the Tour of Britain cycling event, estimated that OnePlan’s technology led to a 75% reduction in site visits for last year’s race, equating to a 2.2-tonne year-on-year drop in CO2 emissions.

Rob Kennison, Tour of Britain’s Finish Director, said at the time: “I can be on a remote team meeting, share my screen and display an item without having to undergo many visits just to measure spaces. I’ve got the item for the podium, I know what size it is, and I can put it onto the OnePlan map to see if it fits the specs, which is a game changer.”

For an event like the Tour of Britain, which covers such a large area, the use of the technology can make a noticeable difference. The tour’s 2023 route stretches 1,271km over eight stages across Britain, with event organisers knowing that otherwise they would have had to visit dozens of sites and conduct hundreds of meetings along the route to plan the placement of barriers, grandstands, paddocks and start and finish areas.

“Reducing site visits is particularly important for events that attract international competitors. For example, stakeholders at Olympic Games such as National Olympic Committees (NOCs) regularly conduct their preparations in-person, hence the platform has the ability to support this work remotely instead which significantly contributes to lowering an event’s associated CO2 emissions.” Paul Foster, OnePlan’s Founder and CEO, tells Global Sustainable Sport.

Whilst awareness grows of sustainability’s various pillars and the associated strategies, techniques and tools, outdated processes still linger throughout the event life cycle – and particularly in the event-planning phase. However, there are signs of progress, according to Foster.

“Awareness is growing among potential customers with sustainability becoming more and more of a priority in society which has resulted in venues exploring different ways to reduce their environmental impact. However, we are still seeing decent swathes of the sport and events industry using old CAD (Computer-Aided Design) workflows to plan events resulting in unnecessary site visits and time wasted,” Foster adds.

“Familiarity with digital twin technology – 3D renders of event and venue spaces – is growing within the industry, particularly given its ability to help venues become more sustainable in the event-planning process.”

Racing for more

Expanding on this point, Foster explains how ExCeL London – host of the British stop on the Formula E electric car-racing series – recently became a client of OnePlan.

“In prior conversations there was an awareness of digital twin technology,” Foster continues. “Therefore, when we presented our Venue Twin 3D solution, there was an excitement about its impact on the business.”

James Rees, ExCeL’s Executive Director, said following the announcement of the deal: “As we strive for more sustainability, this new partnership helps reduce carbon footprints by minimising the need for travel. Moreover, it fits in perfectly with ExCeL’s ambition to be net zero by 2030 and its new ESG strategy.”

OnePlan’s technology is set to be of particular interest for clients looking to visualise what their event could look like in ExCeL’s forthcoming 25,000-square-metre expansion project, which is due to be completed in October 2024. As part of this, OnePlan’s platform also has multiple additional applications such as road-testing arrival and departure points, showcasing media opportunities and mocking up of room layouts, all from a visitor perspective.

Meanwhile, Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles – a long-established sports and entertainment facility – is another partner of OnePlan. The venue is home to the NBA basketball league’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, as well as the NHL’s ice hockey league’s LA Kings and the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s NBA. The venue hosts over 230 events a year, ranging from home games for the four professional teams to events like the Grammy Awards and regular high-profile concerts. “The amount of waste we believe we can eliminate by coordinating such a busy calendar with OnePlan is huge,” Foster says, referring to the iconic venue.

Foster adds that whilst the environmental impact of events “is a growing priority within sport”, Europe is ahead of the US, “where sustainability isn’t quite as high on the agenda”.

“We have found Europe-based venues and governing bodies more receptive to our tools that help support their sustainability goals. Ultimately, the events industry is looking for ROI when seeking planning partners – be that in efficiency or cost effectiveness – but this doesn’t have to be at the expense of sustainability. We regularly engage with potential customers on how our tools can help reduce their environmental impact.”

Paris 2024

Of course, one major European sporting event on the horizon is the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will bring participants, spectators and officials to the French capital from across the globe. With this in mind, the use of OnePlan by organisers of the Games will contribute towards the event’s efforts to be the most sustainable such mega-event to date.

Paris 2024 made environmental sustainability a core part of its original bid to host the Games, including significant commitments regarding the event’s environmental impact. Those ambitious commitments included aiming to halve emissions arising from the Games.

“We believe we can positively contribute to this goal,” Foster says. “We’ve been appointed as the Official Supporter of GIS Mapping and Digital Twin Software – the first time an Olympic or Paralympic Games has chosen a mapping software partner. We’re helping the Paris Organising Committee by creating digital twins of their venues such as the Eiffel Tower Arena, which naturally requires the rendering of iconic parts of Paris.

“These interactive digital twins provide hyper-realistic versions of venues, accessible to their stakeholders from anywhere in the world. This means that the Paris 2024 Organising Committee planners and their stakeholders can save on the number of location trips, alongside those done by the individual NOCs ranging from the nearby British Olympic Association to far-flung NOCs such as Australia’s. With nearly all the 206 NOCs making international planning trips by air, we are hugely privileged to be able to contribute to Paris 2024’s sustainability goals through the reduction in carbon emissions.”

Spectacular & Sustainable

The contribution of providers like OnePlan will be crucial if Paris 2024 is to fulfil its sustainability goals, which have been repeatedly pledged and well documented.

Indeed, Organising Committee President Tony Estanguet said in July that he wants next year’s Games to be “spectacular and sustainable”, as well as a “new model” for staging the Olympics in the future.

According to Alain Nguyen, Head of Games Information Systems at Paris 2024, the technology is already helping to “save costs and address our environmental challenges”. However, its successful use for Paris 2024 will also have a legacy impact – and not just in the host country.

For Nguyen, this type of tool will “soon become the standard for organising major events”, helping to create memorable events that meet sustainable, as well as sporting objectives.

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