Iventis huge splash with Dubai Expo 2020


Iventis at Dubai Expo 2020 Image: Iventis

Dubai (UAE) Expo 2020 was the first major event to adopt the map-based, collaborative planning technology first developed by Iventis. The software company looks back on this five-year journey.

The ‘iventis’ stated that 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 was a World Expo hosted by Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, from October 1st, 2021 to March 31st, 2022. Originally scheduled for October 20th, 2020 to April 10th, 2021, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being postponed, organizers kept the name Expo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.

Lincoln, England (UK)-based Iventis has been created for the global events industry and facilitates collaborative working. Its dynamic platform harnesses the power of layering complex Building Information Modeling (BIM), Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Geographic Information System (GIS), and other data, bringing them together in one, easy-to-use format.

Joe Cusdin, CEO and Founder, Iventis, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The ‘iventis’ further stated that Dubai Expo 2020 took place over six months from October 2021 to March 2022. By the close of the event, more than 2,000 plans had been created, 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, the Iventis team were fortunate to see many of these plans come to life during the spectacular event.

In this article, the company explores how Expo 2020 Dubai used Iventis (which was branded internally as Waseela) and what they learnt.

The beginning

Iventis was adopted by the operations planning team 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 core team at Expo 2020 Dubai were experienced event operators and understood the enormity of the challenge ahead.

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

Iventis pioneered the world’s first event-focused, accessible, map-based planning technology in 2015. While it has been used by several major events, Expo 2020 Dubai was in the right place and time to fully adopt and harness the system.

‘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 rollout was a result of one of Iventis’ biggest strengths: Its flexibility.

Waseela found use cases across the organization, in several instances, it found uses that it 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 organization 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, the use of the system increased exponentially through to March 2020 when the pandemic hit.

A small selection of notable uses of the system includes:

  • Workforce dot planning across all departments, coordinated by the workforce team;
  • Planning accreditation zones and access control;
  • Helping to plan the layout and operations of the 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; and
  • 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 canceling or postponing an event like Expo 2020 Dubai or the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was unheard of. Inevitably, Expo 2020 Dubai was postponed, by a full year, into 2021.

Despite a huge drive to reduce costs, Waseela was maintained as a crucial tool to help replan the event. As staffs 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 reworked 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 six-month event.

The Expo 2020 Dubai site spanned almost five km 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 program 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

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.

The Iventis team played its part supporting the various teams in the first example of event map-based planning software used from beginning to end by the entire organization.

By working closely with its users, Iventis learnt a huge amount which is now feeding into the next generation of its system, launching later this year.

Iventis is grateful to everyone at Expo 2020 Dubai who supported them, provided feedback and made use of their system and congratulated them on an incredible achievement.

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