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Interview: How Eviden is harnessing the power of AI for venue operators

Images: Eviden

Images: Eviden

Eviden, part of the Atos group, has a long and diverse heritage delivering data-driven, secure, and sustainable digital transformation solutions.

The company operates across multiple industries and has over three decades of experience supporting major global sports competitions and venues.

In 2021, Eviden acquired Ipsotek, a UK-based company which specialises in AI-powered video analytics. The acquisition has expanded the solutions Eviden can deliver to clubs and arena operators, from security and operational gains to enhanced fan experiences.

Ahead of TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester next month, we caught up with Stephen Papaloizou, Account Manager in the UK and Europe for Ipsotek, to discuss how the company can support operators in maximising the potential of AI and other emerging technologies…

TheStadiumBusiness: How do you feel the fan experience has developed in recent years, particularly since the onset of the pandemic?

Stephen Papaloizou: “There’s been a real shift to the experience of attending a live match, and technology is at the heart of it. We are looking at real ‘smart stadiums’ now, and the hugely improved fan experience that comes with them.

“Things like cash-only tickets were already on the way out, but there’s no question that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital. The days of social distancing and masks are largely behind us, but technology adoption has continued to drive improvements in all areas – operational, commercial, and of course the safety and comfort of fans.”

TSB: How can stadiums and arenas leverage data and connectivity to help enhance the fan experience?

Papaloizou: “At the heart of it, you have data analytics operating at all levels – from crowd behaviours to individual fan preferences and interests. On the commercial side, this means smart, relevant recommendations for everything from food and merchandising to seating options.

“And operationally, it enables more effective venue management which ultimately enhances the fan experience and comfort as well – for example, by analysing real-time data on crowd movement and behaviour, stadiums can respond faster to optimise traffic flow, prevent overcrowding, and direct fans to shorter queues.

“Connectivity is an important part of the equation. For fans, this means not only a seamless journey inside the venue, but also access to real-time game statistics, replays, and other tailored content. It’s about immersing supporters, making them part of the experience in ways that weren’t available up until quite recently. And this creates a number of opportunities for clubs as well.”

TSB: Is there also a role for AI in strengthening stadium safety and security?

Papaloizou: “Absolutely. There are huge benefits to CCTV systems supported by AI-powered technologies, for example. Live camera feeds can be analysed in real time and detect all sorts of suspicious activities – like unauthorised access or the presence of abandoned or prohibited objects, which makes response to potential threats much faster. Similarly, monitoring of crowd density can help prevent incidents like stampedes.

“These capabilities apply to the entire perimeter of the stadium, so you can prevent threats at parking areas and transport hubs, for example. Use cases we’ve deployed include loitering, health and safety incidents, and group behaviours – which AI models can be pre-trained to detect and report in accordance with applicable security and privacy protocols. Venue operators can customise these models to meet any number of needs, which is an important part of the value we deliver for our customers at Eviden.”

TSB: What about new commercial opportunities? Could computer vision create new possibilities for retail, for example?

Papaloizou: “Yes, there are substantial commercial and retail prospects. Both real-time and forensic data can uncover hidden trends – for example around customer preferences, foot traffic patterns, and other valuable information to drive cost savings, staff optimisation, reduced wastage, and efficient stock management.

“Stadiums can also leverage this data to enhance and customise their commercial environment. Some benefits might include optimised layouts, tailored marketing promotions for e-commerce campaigns, and enhanced inventory management.

“And the wider security and safety benefits apply here too – AI analytics can be trained to provide real-time alerts for theft for example, or direct visitors to the nearest shop or shortest queue – which means a more comfortable experience for fans, and more sales opportunities through enhanced customer flow.”

TSB: In the US, telcos such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have worked with stadiums to enhance connectivity. Is this the model to follow, especially given the commercial opportunities that can arise from such partnerships?

Papaloizou: “Yes, because of everything that enhanced connectivity enables. Stadiums have rightly focused on improving network infrastructure, installing advanced cellular networks and Wi-Fi systems, and this has enabled them to diversify their offer of connected services.

“Mobile apps can enable real-time guidance, interactive content, concession ordering, all the way to virtual and augmented reality integration. The possibilities are endless – digital signage, interactive kiosks, advanced AV systems, plus the whole range of applications of IoT (Internet of Things).

“In the UK, we’re working closely with leading 5G operators including BT to offer similar opportunities – and it’s really exciting to see these solutions in action through a number of proof-of-value deployments we’ve already launched with major stadiums. There’s plenty more to come as we continue to tailor offerings and integrate them with the huge connectivity know-how and capability that comes with our 5G partners.”

TSB: How can Eviden help teams and venues maximise the potential of AI and data analytics?

Papaloizou: “We’re well placed to deliver the range of benefits we’ve been talking about, particularly when it comes to harnessing advanced algorithms and machine learning to analyse live CCTV footage. It’s all about delivering actionable intelligence and driving value.

“Our video analytics solution can strengthen security, enhance crowd control, optimise operations, and identify potential risks and congestion points in real-time, which all contribute to elevate the fan experience. This information empowers teams and venues to streamline their processes, allocate resources efficiently, and boost overall operational effectiveness.

“We also place a strong emphasis on data security and privacy. Partnering with telco providers like BT, we employ encryption and secure protocols to deliver real-time alerts. Additionally, stringent compliance with data protection regulations ensures that only authorised personnel have access to the analytics and footage, safeguarding data and privacy.”

TSB: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Papaloizou: “This is a hugely exciting time for stadium operators. Wider availability of AI-powered data analytics means that they can offer fans a range of experiences that even a few years ago were the stuff of dreams – and do so while driving operational efficiencies and new commercial prospects. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this new reality and look forward to continuing to drive positive change for our clients and partners.”

Meet Eviden and 50+ projects at TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit in Manchester in December…


Learn more about Eviden’s range of data-driven solutions for stadiums and arenas