How social distance monitoring supported a safe Eurovision Song Contest during the pandemic
Social Distance Monitoring, Safety
In 2021 Forkbeard and its partners helped to monitor social distancing at the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), as well as provide interaction data for Fieldlab’s research purposes.
Technology deployment at a glance
The annual Eurovision Song Contest is an international music competition with over 180m viewers. With 2020 being the first year since its inception in 1951 that the event had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, the organizers received a green light for 2021. With thousands of in-person spectators, the magnitude of the event requires large in-person collaboration from setup to execution. For the Eurovision 2021 which took place in Rotterdam Ahoy a total of 4,500 staff members and 31,500 spectators were expected across a 54,000m2 venue.
Considering the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the Eurovision 2021 organizers’ top priorities was a safe event for staff and audience. In addition to standard pandemic protocols such as on-site rapid testing, the organizers wanted to get insight into the effectiveness of their social distancing protocols. Moreover, if Covid measures failed, the team aimed to quickly identify the risk areas to intervene and mitigate.
To add to the complexity, the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest was part of the Fieldlab event series. The Fieldlab program was a collaboration between the Dutch government, universities, and the events sector to accelerate the return to large events during the pandemic. This meant that throughout the shows which included live audiences, interaction data had to be collected for Fieldlab’s research purposes.
The organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 and the Fieldlab program decided to deploy the Flockey app offered by Unlimited Solutions, powered by Forkbeard and EY technology. The app recorded any interaction data between 2 smartphones by leveraging Forkbeard’s proprietary proximity technology. After recording the interaction, the data was sent to the cloud and visualized in a dashboard developed by EY. This allowed Eurovision and Fieldlab organizers to see live interaction data at the event. Staff and spectators who were not able to use the app were given Forkbeard tags to prevent any data gaps.
With the help of the Flockey app and Forkbeard’s tags and proximity solution, organizers were alerted when social distancing requirements were violated. However, to understand where the violations occurred and to be able to intervene, location insights were key. These insights were provided with the help of Forkbeard’s beacons which were positioned across 150 locations at the venue and enriched user interaction data with accurate position data. This allowed for the improvement of social distancing protocols and measures in real-time.
Overall, the solution allowed a successful execution of the Eurovision 2021 through monitoring of social distancing behavior and continuous improvement of the safety protocols. A key advantage was the scalability and cost of the solution. As Tom Velema, partner at EY, said: “[This] solution is easy to apply on any scale, at relatively low costs.”