The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Paul Foster, CEO of OnePlan. OnePlan uses 3D mapping technology to help organize and economize live events, such as cycling races, triathlons, and music festivals. Foster discussed the benefits and challenges of using digital twin technology in event planning.
Nuthi: What differentiates OnePlan from other event-planning platforms?
Foster: There are a number of reasons OnePlan is a unique platform. For one, it’s accessible to anyone—any reader of this can sign up today and be planning an event in next to no time, with no prior training needed or expertise. Traditionally, organizing teams have used a mixture of Google Maps, PowerPoint, and CAD files to create venue plans, but OnePlan removes the need for sharing outdating files. Over email, it’s also scalable right the way up, from a community event to an Olympic Games, and equally as valuable to either. Users can choose from thousands of objects and features on an event map, with simple ‘click and drop’ functionality, with specific packs for event types, like Triathlon, Fairs & Shows, or Cycling. This all aids the simplicity for the user.
As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, these plans are accessible to any team member at any location, enabling easy collaboration. For larger teams, like those planning the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this means collaboration on an international and real-time basis, unlike any other platform.
Nuthi: How does OnePlan use 3D mapping and digital twin technology to aid its clients?
Foster: OnePlan is a GIS Mapping platform that offers both 2D and 3D mapping, as well as a digital twin view of venues and spaces for an incredible level of detail and accuracy. This gives the user increased operational planning benefits, like the ability to see where objects should fit in a venue down to minute details, and security scenario planning and crowd flow management to avoid calamities like we’ve seen recently at some venues. By using imagery and CAD or architectural files and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) where needed, highly detailed, life-like representations of places, objects, and even humans can be created. The scope of this technology is limitless—offering unique opportunities to OnePlan’s clients. For example, for sales staff like those we’re partnering with at the Intuit Dome, it provides a valuable visual tool for executive and entertainment packages. It can show prospective customers a hyper-realistic version of their seats, giving them an exact idea of their view.
On top of planning events on a level of detail unavailable anywhere else, clients can manage venues, envisaging the flow of people through a venue and producing plans that can be implemented to train staff. We help partners improve efficiencies across their planning operations, from reduced visits to sites and fewer expenses on travel to clearer planning through our platforms.
Nuthi: What are the biggest challenges facing the use of new technologies in the event planning space?
Foster: Implementation of new technologies is always a difficult step to take for organizations that have been set in their ways of working for a number of years. Education is needed to show that these new tools are not only beneficial but also incredibly easy to pick up and use across an event planning body. Our software supports teams with change management in the way that they can have a running start with minimal disruption.
And as with other SaaS platforms, there can be a cost to using OnePlan’s technology for our customers. While we offer a free package to users to unlock all of the platform’s capabilities, there is a scalable cost.
Nuthi: The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games have enlisted OnePlan to help plan the games in 2024 sustainably. How is OnePlan’s technology able to help its clients focus on sustainability?
Foster: OnePlan’s technology can help large-scale clients Silverstone and The Tour of Britain be more sustainable in a number of ways. The OnePlan platform eliminates the need for many visits to venue sites, saving huge amounts of carbon emissions on flights or drives. Other benefits beyond that include the optimizing of sustainability features at the event by including these items in your event plan. Waste management, water and sanitation, energy consumption—all of these can be factored into the platform and improved year on year or event by event. Rob Kennison, Finish Director for the Tour of Britain, said: “Our calculations show that with 75 percent less site visits now needed, using OnePlan also cuts our CO2 emissions by 2.2 tonnes per year.” We estimate that for a major event, our software can deliver a reduction of 20K tonnes of CO2 per year.
Nuthi: How do you think OnePlan will continue to evolve, and what is the next series of goals for the company?
We have a number of areas of focus over the next few years. One is to be a big part of venue renovation and new builds—we are already working with a number of major partners like the Intuit Dome, and have other U.S. partnerships in the pipeline for major venue reconstructions. We see these as a real area of expansion, hence our recent $6M (£5M) investment from Elysian Park Ventures and Verance Capital, two U.S. partners we really feel can help take our offering to an American audience.
We want to be working with venues to show that beyond our 2D offering that our digital twinning software can take their planning to the next level, through the reasons expressed earlier. Security at events is as prevalent a concern as ever, and OnePlan’s technology can help recent disasters like those at Brixton Academy in London or Astroworld in the US to be avoided.
Finally, helping our current partners achieve greater efficiencies in their workflow, and show these proof points to other major partners. Rob Kennison saving himself 300 hours in work visits proved invaluable for his planning of the Tour of Britain, while Silverstone planners found an estimated 13 percent ROI, including efficiencies resulting in a 10 percent reduction in days saved.