Before the UK government announced it was imposing a strict no-fans policy at sports venues for the next six months, there were a number of venues trialing ways to safely bring back fans. One of those was Surrey County Cricket Club (Surrey CCC), which earlier this month ran a successful Government COVID-SAFE technology biosecure trial for the Surrey vs Hampshire Twenty20 fixture at the Kia Oval.
The 3 September fixture marked the second time fans had been welcomed back to a live cricket match in the UK since the global pandemic began. At the heart of the trial was the Restrata Platform, coupled with tags and locators, which were key components successfully trialed at the match. COVID-SAFE (contact track and trace) fobs were provided to spectators that attended the match, with the technology covering a portion of the seating bowl and food and beverages concourse within the Kia Oval.
The trial, which was run in accordance with the UK Government’s Elite sport – return to competition: safe return of spectators Strategy, demonstrated the success of Restrata’s COVID-SAFE technology in a stadium environment. With the English cricket season coming to a close, the successful trial paves the way for football, rugby and other sports to bring spectators back to their own matches in a stadium setting that is considered, and backed by data as, “safer than the high street”. The ascendancy of Restrata’s technology by sport comes as the [global sport] industry seeks to regain confidence and support the safe and secure return of fans to live sport.
By utilizing the Restrata technology, Surrey CCC was able to secure multiple benefits, including:
Demonstrating how queues were forming near key areas in concourse, entry and exit zones, so that stadium staff could intervene if required; monitoring the duration of time individuals were in close proximity and also the number of people that individuals are in close proximity with throughout the day; creating a historical review of social distancing performance across the stadium; being alerted at times when the concourse is congested so that fans can remain in their seats if needed; monitoring congestion in other key areas and monitor queue densities; monitoring queue lengths and conflicts with circulation areas;
Having an operational overview of the entire stadium with the spaces, queues, distancing and ‘dwell time’; creating a contact track and trace report for each individual during and after the match.
Additionally, it was estimated that by implementing the COVID-SAFE technology, and creating data-led stewarding and operational management, Surrey CCC would be able to make a 70% reduction in stewarding and operational costs.
Botan Osman, CEO, Restrata said: “Not only have we been able to conduct the trial safely, but we have done so with the fans’ backing and without infringing on their privacy; spectators at the Oval were extremely comfortable with wearing lanyards during the trial, as their privacy was completely protected.
“Restrata is passionate about helping sport and business recover from this pandemic, and by staging this trial with Surrey, we believe we are helping other sports regain the confidence they need through technology and data to bring fans back to their stadia safely and securely as we continue to learn and progress from this pandemic. Given the present climate, we stand ready to assist as the challenges evolve to enable every business in the country to have the tools they need to face this virus.”
The Surrey vs. Hampshire Twenty20 trial was the latest elite sport fixture to benefit from Restrata’s Covid-safe platform, which was deployed successfully to deliver the first bio-secure test series between England and West Indies, held behind closed doors in July, and then repeated during other England fixtures, including the series against Pakistan, Ireland and Australia.
The positive results of the trial have further cemented Restrata’s rapid ascendancy in the international sports industry. The British technology company has worked with the world’s biggest sports events and venues including the Nou Camp in Barcelona, the London 2012 Olympics, Al Bayt Stadium in Doha (one of the venues for the 2022 FIFA World Cup), Abu Dhabi Formula 1 and now the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) England 2020 Test Series with West Indies and Pakistan respectively.