DFL-DFB tech initiative for Germany stadia



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Germany stadium innovations report Image: DFL

Providers regularly present professional football clubs, the German Football League (DFL) and the German Football Association (DFB) with proposals for new services and technologies in connection with stadium operation.

The ‘DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga’ stated that to ensure that these proposals are continuously consolidated and evaluated on a centralized basis, the DFL and the DFB jointly launched an initiative to promote innovative technologies and services in stadium, security and event operations in January 2021. The aim of this initiative is to increase the degree of innovation at German stadiums while offering clubs/stadium operators and innovation providers a platform for networking and sharing knowledge.

The German Football League (DFL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Die LigaFußballverband. The DFL is responsible for the entire operating business of the Ligaverband (association of the 36 German professional football clubs that partake in the Bundesliga and 2., including the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga leagues).

The German Football Association (DFB) is the governing body of football in Germany. A founding member of FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the DFB has jurisdiction for the German football league system and is in charge of the men’s and women’s national teams. The DFB headquarters are in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

The ‘DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga’ further stated that every year, providers put forward new and innovative technologies to be tested in the form of a pilot project. Interested clubs then work with the selected providers to try out the technologies in practice and share their experiences. The decision to conduct a pilot project is taken by the clubs individually in coordination with the providers. Information on which technologies are being tested at which locations and which results were achieved in the respective tests is communicated transparently to the other clubs in order to facilitate a permanent exchange of knowledge in a spirit of mutual cooperation. The providers and the clubs agree on how to apportion the cost of testing the technologies in practice, while the costs of process support and communication are borne by the DFL and the DFB.

A total of seven Bundesliga, Bundesliga 2 and 3. Liga clubs forming part of the Stadium Innovations Project Group decided to test an innovation in practice locally.

The Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin conducted a pilot project with the provider Lufthansa Industry Solutions, which supported the club with software for automatically counting visitor numbers. On a home matchday, Borussia Dortmund organized a double pilot project with the providers SWIS (drone detection and defence) and Security Robotics (automated property surveillance). VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg also supported these pilot projects. Two clubs (Arminia Bielefeld and VfL Bochum) simultaneously tested the ORGArena event organization app.
 

Lufthansa Industry Solutions innovation

 

Crowd management

The innovation developed by Lufthansa Industry Solutions AS GmbH involves overhead sensors and camera/image-based stadium visitor counting systems, crowd monitoring and crowd management solutions.
 

Potential benefits

The main aspect of the innovation is visitor flow management using live data on the number of people at different points within the stadium (e.g., entrances and catering stands). It could also be used to measure parking space occupancy. The data gathered from different matchdays can be used to develop optimized security concepts in order to improve matchday operations. The innovation also offers potential added value for spectators thanks to optimized visitor flow management and shorter waiting times. Furthermore, it can be integrated into third-party systems such as the stadium security control room or used to display waiting times/utilization levels on LED screens or a (club-specific) app.

The potential integration of live waiting times at entrances and kiosks and live parking space occupancy data into the club app could provide added value for fans and incentivize them to make early use of the club app when traveling to matches. In addition, digital signs on the way from public transport to the stadium could be used to guide visitors to less busy entrances with shorter waiting times. Another benefit is that existing camera images of the stadium landscape can be integrated into the system.
 

ORGArena innovation

 

Digitalization mantra

The aim of the ORGArena innovation is to digitalize a number of matchday process flows using an app for more effective structuring and legally compliant documentation. The app can be implemented in regular operations across all departments (Organization, Facility Management, Supporter Liaison, Security, Media and Communication, etc.).
 

Potential benefits

The app is easy to use. Matchday process flows can be presented digitally, thereby replacing paper lists. In addition to tracking matchday and security-related tasks in real time, this enables quicker and more efficient communication within and between the departments. The creation of to-do lists means that employees can step in for colleagues at short notice and ensures the seamless documentation of matchday operations.

The added value of the application is clearly evident. It allows individual checklists from the interdisciplinary club areas to be created for event organization planning. These checklists when the application is launched also help to ensure that experience is retained for the long term and support structured knowledge management within the organization. Furthermore, the checklists are an appropriate tool for completing all of the key work steps on matchdays. The event administration team obtains a real-time overview of the status of work with legally compliant documentation.
 

SWIS GmbH

 

Drone defence

The innovation developed by SWIS GmbH involves drone detection and defence. Software can be used to manually or automatically take control of unfamiliar drones and land them at a predefined location. Alternatively, the drone can also be automatically sent back to the pilot or stopped at the site boundary or the predefined area. Drones can be detected within a radius of three kilometers and their location tracked in real time.
 

Potential benefits

The main added value of the innovation is increased security during stadium operations. The early detection of airborne drones in the area surrounding the stadium and the localization of the pilot can prevent illegal drone flights and potential accidents.

The company Security Robotics offers a camera drone (and alternatively also additional robots) for property and site surveillance. The drone can be controlled manually or be used to perform automated security flights at regular intervals across a defined area.

The innovation enables the surveillance and protection of large spaces and the external site boundaries through continuous video recording for subsequent tracking and preservation of evidence. A potential reduction in staffing requirements is another benefit. In addition, drone flyovers could deter unauthorised individuals from accessing the site.
 

Venue Planner

 

Streamlining security

The Venue Planner software can be used to digitalize and professionalise deployment planning for security staff in connection with events. The technology can be used at various events (football matches, concerts, etc.).
 

Potential benefits

The innovation offers various benefits. In addition to the digitalization and visualization of deployment planning, it can be used for staff, position, space, and material planning. This improves interface management for the deployment planning of internal and external security staff. The software also creates transparency with regard to monetary and human resource planning for the deployment of security staff at home matches and third-party events. Other available functions include the creation of external reports/briefings and true-to-scale visual integration of plans and maps.
 

Positive response

The project team is fully satisfied with the progress of the project to date and the first edition. The positive response from the clubs and the participating providers serves as an endorsement of the DFL and the DFB’s decision to initiate the Stadium Innovations Project Group and conduct the project for the first time in the 2021-2022 seasons. The project has also attracted attention and interest at internationally recognized stadium conferences, and it will continue to be presented in this form in the future.

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