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Realife Tech: Prioritising fan safety for venues

As we navigate our way out of lockdown, one of the challenges for stadiums is fan safety, for the successful reopening of fans to venues.

As we slowly navigate our way out of lockdown, one of the challenges for stadiums is fan safety, ensuring that it’s implemented for sports reopening past COVID-19. 

It’s a key consideration for venues and would see some differences compared to before the pandemic hit. Brent Kocher, Chief Revenue Officer at Realife Tech, believes that increased fan engagement will be pivotal as spectators and venues work together to see new safety solutions used to its full potential. 

Collectively, the majority of sports fans would love for the games to continue despite restrictions on fan attendance – a June 2020 study by ESPN showed that 78 per cent of fans were in favour of play being resumed. It was a double-digit increase on a previous poll back in April. 

Australian sporting codes Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) have already welcomed sports fans back for their respective Grand Finals albeit in a limited capacity, so other venues both here and overseas will be sure to follow suit as spectators are eased back soon. 

For it to be successful, discussions need to be had about some COVID safety measures to be included and the joint effort by stadiums and visitors to hold key events for enjoyment with health the main focus. 

While we still don’t know the full answers about if and when we get back to full capacity, the slow return of fans in partial attendance will serve as testing opportunities for policies and procedures in the future. Technology solutions can be used during this process as fans make the transition back to sporting grounds. Fan engagement allows not only them to be informed, but engaged in an active role to keep themselves safe, as well as players, staff and teams.

Technology solutions have been created so it becomes a more seamless and stress-free experience for fans who are the focus of increased engagement, factoring in their safety to lessen the potential health risks both inside and outside the venue. 

Going to a game used to be a carefree experience, but nowadays it is a completely different story. Before, all the spectators had to worry about was finding their ticketed seats and snacks or drinks they would like to buy. Now, it has become a case of spectators considering what time slot they’re scheduled to enter through the gate, where their seats are uniquely allocated and how far they would be, nominating a time to go and grab something to eat or drink, and a chosen time they wish to exit. 

 

Realife Tech aims to create the best possible experience for fans adhering to COVID guidelines. 

“At Realife Tech, we’ve developed a “Covid Safety Hub”, a range of mobile-based features that guide fans through new venue policies and procedures, with messaging delivered before, during, and after events.” Chief Revenue Officer Brent Kocher said. 

“The tech features location-based safety alerts that share real-time information with fans, helping to control high traffic areas, reduce lines at entries and exits, and loosen crowd congestion.  

“Fans who engage with this platform can adjust their actions depending on social distancing needs around them; for example, if the area they’d like to visit within the stadium is reaching capacity, or if the bathroom near them has a long line that would make distancing from others difficult, they can choose to avoid those areas and take another route to their desired destination.”  

Venues will need to adapt to contactless changes for matchday between staff and fans entering the venue. It means usual interactions will be limited, including touch-free ticketing scanning and contactless ordering and click-and-collect type process of getting food, beverage and merchandise items.  

Stadiums and venues can look into the single view of the customer across their journey, making this a significant learning opportunity for data collection – from multiple platforms and systems, including apps, ticketing, Wi-Fi, point-of-sale, digital advertising screens and access control points. 

Delving into the customer journey can assist venues with their future offerings and communications to provide a more extensive experience that will become seamless moving forward. It addresses both the current challenges and customer needs.  

With fan engagement at the forefront, it means there will be consistent communication between spectators about the right processes, through dedicated technology solutions. They can then feel more empowered to make decisions and be a key difference as part of their daily lives. It means that while we’re still a while off fully-packed crowds, it doesn’t mean we have to settle with empty stadiums. 

To see what Realife Tech has to offer, you can find out more here.

Liam Watson is the Managing Editor at Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Los Angeles FC teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness to host vision impaired fans

Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC is teaming up with the Foundation Fighting Blindness to host blind and low vision fans at LAFC matches at Banc of California Stadium this season.

Leveraging the team’s partnership with audio technology Mixhalo, fans will have access to crystal-clear, real-time play-by-play in English, featuring the call of ESPN LA’s Dave Denholm and the Spanish audio featuring Armando Aguayo on 980 AM La Mera Mera.

All fans at Banc of California can now use their phone, headphones and the free mobile Mixhalo app to listen to Mixhalo’s high-quality live audio for an immersive experience while watching at the stadium.

As the first-ever MLS team to adopt the technology, LAFC announced its collaboration with Mixhalo in December 2020. With fans now returning to Banc of California Stadium at full capacity, Mixhalo audio will be available to all fans at every LAFC home game throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.

“LAFC matches are for everyone,” LAFC Co-President and CBO Larry Freedman told lafc.com.

“We are constantly focusing on improving our fan experience and making our games more accessible to all. We are proud to welcome fans from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community this season to experience LAFC matches in person through Mixhalo’s incredible technology.”

Guests from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community will attend select LAFC home games and have the opportunity to meet with Denholm and Aguayo before the game.

“We are honoured to be partnering with LAFC in making the games more accessible for our blind and low vision community,” Jason Menzo said to lafc.com, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

“We look forward to the technology rolling out into other stadiums, not only in the United States, but globally.

Mixhalo Head of Sports Doug Holtzman added:

“Mixhalo elevates the live sports experience for everyone, and we’re thrilled that vision impaired LAFC fans can enjoy a better experience at matches this season.”

“With live calls from Dave Denholm directly in your ear – it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

FIFA and EA Sports end 30-year deal

As reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, gaming giant EA Sports and world football governing body FIFA have parted ways.

The partnership dated back to 1993, when FIFA International Soccer was launched for the SEGA Genesis.

Their current partnership was set to expire at the conclusion of the Qatar World Cup, with a new deal aiming to branch out into new areas – including NFTs.

It was reported that EA made a ‘significant offer’ for an eight-year exclusivity deal with FIFA for all of its Esports and gaming rights. However, the deal was knocked back, according to Reuters, as FIFA did not want the rights all with one company.

FIFA 23 will be the last game made in collaboration between the two organisations, set to release in late September this year, worldwide.

The FIFA series was estimated at the start of 2021 to have sold over 325 million units, according to ForbesFIFA 18 is the equal 40th highest selling video game of all time, estimated at 24 million units across all platforms.

FIFA confirmed it would still produce video games with third party developers, while EA will rebrand the FIFA series under the title EA Sports FC. The new series would include licensees such as the Premier League and LaLiga, which at this stage has authentic coverage, as all players are face scanned and the full broadcast packages akin to real life are featured in the game.

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