1st June 2022 | Category: Major Events

Iventis Map-Based Event Planning Tool used by Dubai Expo 2020

Map-based event planning

Map-based Event Planning

Expo 2020 Dubai was the first major event to adopt our map-based event planning technology. We look back on this 5 year journey.

Since early 2018, more than 1,600 users spent a cumulative total of over 12,000 hours using Iventis planning the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. It has become the first major event to use this type of software through the full operational planning lifecycle.

Expo 2020 Dubai took place over 6 months from October 2021 to March 2022. By the close of the event, users had created more than 2,000 plans, covering everything from VIP routes to the locations of bins across the 4.38 km2 site.  As the first mega event to adopt this type of technology, our team were fortunate to see many of these plans come to life during the spectacular event.

In this article, we explore how Expo 2020 Dubai used Iventis, which they internally branded as Waseela, and what we learned.

The Beginning

The operations planning team adopted Iventis early in the planning process. This is likely to be a key factor in the success and wide adoption of the system, as it can be more difficult to introduce widely during later stages. The experienced event operators at Expo 2020 Dubai understood the enormity of the challenge ahead.

They recognised that the team they would build would work on a wide range of plans, which would regularly change. They would have to analyse their plans, find efficiency savings, and communicate with a variety of internal and external stakeholders.

’Waseela’, arabic for ‘tool/ appliance’, launched in March 2018, initially to a relatively limited group of users in the Event Operations department. It was quickly adopted by the transport team, event services, security and beyond.

Organic Growth

One of the greatest challenges with the initial roll out was a result of one of the Iventis planning tool’s biggest strengths: its flexibility. Waseela found use cases across the organisation, in several instances, we found uses that we had not even considered when making the software.

With so many new uses, the software did not fit comfortably within a single department. As an entirely new concept, there was also a learning curve for central planning and management teams.

This resulted in Waseela taking on a life of its own. Waseela’s use spread through the organisation as more and more users discovered its benefits. This was great to see, but did create some challenges in terms of ownership, coordination and ensuring everyone was able to use it to its full potential.

Nonetheless, use of the system increased exponentially through to March 2020 when the pandemic hit.

A small selection of notable uses of the system included:

  • Workforce dot planning across all departments, co-ordinated by the workforce team
  • Planning accreditation zones and access control
  • Helping to plan the layout and operations of security screening areas
  • Planning bus routes, load zones and queuing areas for transport systems
  • Police and security operations * Planning logistics and delivery routes
  • Planning events including parades, marathons, and performances * Planning media and broadcast operations

“Waseela made a huge difference in my productivity and presentation of my work”
Waseela User (April 2022)

Pandemic Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for the events industry. The prospect of cancelling or postponing an event like Expo 2020 Dubai or the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was unheard of. They inevitably postponed the Dubai Expo 2020 by a full year, into 2021.

Despite a huge drive to reduce costs, Waseela was maintained as a crucial tool to help re-plan the event. As staff were forced to work remotely, the opportunity for digital collaboration enabled their work to continue successfully. It would help work on the challenges posed by COVID-19, such as reducing capacities to safe levels to achieve social distancing.

As plans were re-worked over the following year, usage again increased to a peak in the months before the event.

Event-Time Operations

Iventis was designed primarily as a planning tool – enabling large teams to build complex plans together. However, the Expo 2020 Dubai team also saw uses for the system during operations of the 6-month event.

The Expo 2020 Dubai site spanned almost 5km squared with hundreds of venues and event spaces. Every day different events would take place – from large concerts to conferences and roaming entertainment. The scale of this created a challenge for operators to understand what was happening across the site each day.

Embedded in the Operations Planning Office, Iventis turned Waseela into a map-based event schedule and daily run sheet. The programme of activities was imported into Waseela each day, with each venue plotted on a map. Operators would then have access to a real-time map showing the key activities taking place across the site. This process was repeated for every one of the 180 event days.

Successes and Lessons Learnt: Map-Based Event Planning Tool

Despite unprecedented challenges, Expo 2020 Dubai was a huge success exceeding attendance targets by achieving 24 million visits. The extensive workforce came together and delivered an unforgettable experience.

We are proud to have played our part supporting the various teams in the first example of event map-based planning software used from beginning to end by the entire organisation.

By working closely with our users, we learnt a huge amount which is now feeding into the next generation of our system.

We’d like to thank everyone at Expo 2020 Dubai who supported us, provided feedback and made use of our system and congratulate them on an incredible achievement.

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