Creating an information legacy for major events

‘Legacy’ has become an increasingly important part of major events as they strive to create value long after the closing ceremony. Large global events, such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup can drive positive change for host communities and are powerful tools for creating long-lasting positive legacies for nations, regions and cities. London 2012 is a great example of this.

London Olympic Park in Iventis
London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is often held up as an example of a positive legacy of a major event.

Nearly 10 years on, London 2012 is continuing to touch lives and benefit communities living around the Olympic Park. It’s a legacy that goes far beyond the physical changes set in motion by the Games, delivering on a vision embedded in community impact from the start. According to statistics from the International Olympic Committee 110,000 more jobs have been created across the host boroughs since 2012, of the 70,000 London 2012 Games Makers, over 35,000 continue to volunteer in their communities and over a million people continue to visit the Olympic Park every year. In some ways, even companies like Iventis are a legacy from the event. These statistics shine a light on the importance of such events for the communities that serve them.

Historically major event organisers have not prioritised creating any kind of information legacy. They are understandably solely focussed on delivering their event.

Legacy has become an important part of any city’s bid for a major event, to show longer term and meaningful benefits to justify their considerable cost - which is increasingly under scrutiny. The effort which goes into planning these events is immense, but each edition creates a large amount of information which could be used to refine and improve future events. However, historically major event organisers have not prioritised creating any kind of information legacy. They are understandably solely focussed on delivering their event, and under great pressure to do so, so little consideration is made to helping future organisers beyond a high level 'End of Games Report'.

Olympic Edition Steps
Historically there has been little incentive to transfer knowledge and information from one event edition to the next, despite the potential value in doing so for future hosts.

Data management of events has grown in focus over the past few years, largely due to the increasing amount of data collection tools organisers use to keep on top of their events. Nobody wants to leave valuable data behind, but unfortunately the hardest part of data migration for planners is the handling of legacy data. Large events, such as the Olympics, have multiple organising teams working across all areas from logistics to transport, security to scheduling. While some of these teams remain in place to work on the event every four years, most belong to local teams with local knowledge and expertise that leave when the event moves onto another city and country. This often results in valuable event data being lost in silos of outdated Excel spreadsheets, presentations, people’s minds or written journals. Even if they have the will to maintain this for future events, it may prove impractical due to the lack of centralised tools and resources to hold the plans.

Irrespective of where an event is going next, key learnings and historicals should be a constant. Yet, what commonly happens is that data is lost when people that are no longer involved in the event leave. All their knowledge and knowhow leaves with them, meaning that new teams come on board having to start from scratch each time.

Lots of data in different places

Rio 2016 Post Games Report
Post Games reporting tends to be high level, and does not capture the detail required to help future organisers.

The complexity of planning, organising and coordinating a seemingly infinite number of tasks around an event like the Olympics, is no mean feat. Short timescales, an ever growing team and constant changes mean that a multitude of interrelated plans are being developed simultaneously. Without a structure in place from the start, it’s almost impossible to capture this information in a meaningful way. Capturing and sharing the information is not a major priority which such a complex, immediate task to complete.

A single source of trusted data, irrespective of timing and location, can help event planners make better data driven decisions based on past experience

Then there are the amount of people involved in making these large events happen. Japanese press reported that in July 2021, almost 80,000 olympic officials and support staff were involved in putting the Tokyo Summer Olympics together, this is a lot of people making up the Olympic jigsaw and lots of data in lots of different places.

Having data in different formats and different places makes a data migration project challenging and most certainly is the reason that legacy data from large events is often hard to come by.

Collaborative events

Olympic Edition Steps
Platforms like Iventis provide an opportunity to effortlessly capture a detailed data legacy, providing highly valuable information for future event organisers.

A single source of trusted data, irrespective of timing and location, can help event planners make better data driven decisions based on past experience instead of trying to reinvent the wheel each time they go to market. Learning from past successes and mistakes, and refining methodologies and plans can bring significant cost savings. For example, organisers have a tendency to overscope their requirements due to uncertainties in their planning and a risk aversion.

Although Iventis is primarily designed as a centralised map-based planning tool, a by-product is that a vast amount of planning data is captured in a structured, accessible system.

Although Iventis is primarily designed as a centralised map-based planning tool, a by-product is that a vast amount of planning data is captured in a structured, accessible system. These systems allow the whole team to plan every aspect of the event together in one place. This data can then be securely shared and accessed by the whole team, including external stakeholders, partners and suppliers and used for future event planning. This presents the opportunity to simply package the wealth of information and provide it to future organisers as a blueprint or reference point. It can also be used as a learning platform - to help future planners learn and understand how best to plan and operate their events.

Munich 2022 Olympic Park in Iventis
Events like the European Championships are taking a more sustainable approach - such as using existing venues. Munich 2022's planning is supported by Iventis

The alternative is disparate sets of people using disparate technologies such as spreadsheets to document data specifications, which is prone to human errors and cannot be easily translated when analysing data or performing data transformations. Using one integrated platform allows planners to collect all their essential insights and use them to make smarter decisions about future events. It empowers them to act based on accurate data instead of speculation and leaves no room for vital data to be lost or hidden. It is also incredibly cost effective.

There have been concerns about the future of mega events due to their costs in recent years and figures from the University of Oxford on the cost of games held between 1960 and 2016 make for sober reading. The University found that for the 19 events for which reliable data was available, every single Olympics in this period ran over budget (even when counting sports-related costs only and not including the construction of additional city infrastructure). The Summer Games ran over budget by an average of 213 per cent; the average overrun for the Winter Games was 142 per cent. London 2012, for example, cost £9.3bn, an overrun of 76 per cent, it’s clear to see that creating a legacy does come at a cost.

Maximising data legacy will ultimately result in better, more efficient future global events.

No two cities are the same, but some are more similar to others. Over time, a data legacy could help future organisiers cherry pick successful or relevant elements from past events.

Learning from past games and changing the delivery model could provide a more flexible and efficient solution for future event planners tasked with creating these highly regarded events. Maximising data legacy will ultimately result in better, more efficient future global events.

Get in touch to find out how Iventis can support your event or venue planning.

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