Stadiums around the world are still paralysed from the effects of COVID-19. Fans and spectators in masses have been absent from stadiums since April and there doesn’t seem to be a concrete plan on how or when they’ll be able to return to near capacity.

The NBA recently opted to form a bubble philosophy concept in Disney’s facilities, although it’s been a relative success, it’s also been a $200 million temporary solution. This then begs the question: How long can stadiums survive like this without spectator’s present?

History tells us that stadiums, venues and sport recover from disasters, so what can stadiums do to speed up the process? This is the catalyst for AI to be integrated on mass level to stadiums around the world.

AI is the answer

AI’s role in getting fans and spectators back is huge, through capabilities such as:

  • Social Distance Monitoring
  • Crowd Scanning/Metrics
  • Facial Recognition
  • Fever Detection
  • Track & Trace
  • Providing Behavioural Analytics

Technologies such as is now working alongside National Leagues, Franchises and Governing Bodies to implement AI surveillance software into their CCTV/surveillance cameras. This is now creating a more collaborative effort from the operations team in stadiums, rather than purely security.

Stadiums around the world are still paralysed from the effects of COVID-19

AI surveillance software such as when implemented into the surveillance cameras can be accessed by designated users on any device and on any browser platform.

Crowd metrics

Arming stadiums with AI-powered surveillance tools can detect crowd metrics such as “people counting” and “group statistics”. This ensures stadium personnel can monitor social distancing with precision, accuracy and immediately. Alerts can be set up throughout parts of the stadium to alert senior staff members when overcrowding can appear with real-time videos, analytics and photos to their hand-held device, such as a smartphone.

Fever detection

Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures. What implements is an alert system, coupled with facial recognition of any individual(s) that read an elevated body temperature.

This alert system then provides security and health officials with a photo of the individual with the elevated body temperature, meaning staff can react quicker to the situation prevent this individual from entry.

Pandemic monitoring by facial recognition 

Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures

Through facial recognition, staff members will be able to locate individuals through simply uploading a photo. It has never been easier to find a person of interest. With masks becoming an everyday part of society, facial recognition has come under scrutiny regarding the accuracy when a mask is worn. still maintains a 96% accuracy with individuals wearing masks and can set up alerts for any individuals not wearing a mask.

Another important aspect of facial recognition is finding persons of interest quickly through technology like’s “searchveillance”. The future is here. Designated staff can track a person from when they enter the stadium by simply uploading their photograph. An example of how this can assist stadium personnel is to help relocate lost children inside the stadium with their guardians/parents when they are separated. Another attribute would be any individuals banned from entering the stadium would trigger alerts once they appear under surveillance, a fantastic collaborative tool to use with Law Enforcement.   

Return on investment

With security solutions, one of the biggest issues with any security investment is a lack of an ROI. This is where AI security is breaking the mould. The ability to provide business analytics, consumer/fan behaviours, traffic patterns, etc, allows other departments within the organisation to gain vital information that can assist with their strategies and practices.

Stadium security will never be the same in a post-COVID world, so why will its practices stay the same? AI & Stadiums is no longer the future, it’s the 2020 solution.

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Author profile

Daniel Eborall Director of Sales, IREX

Daniel has an accomplished background in Sports Stadium Security. After finishing his Soccer career, he worked at The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety & Security where he was involved in many projects alongside the NFL, NBA, UEFA, Interpol & Homeland Security. Daniel has since managed stadiums with capacities of over 100,000 fans, The NCAA Final Four & various other high-profile events. Daniel became one of the first graduates in the world to achieve an MBA with an Emphasis in Sports Security Management.

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