Imagine you had the task of managing one of the most prestigious and respected events in the ANZAC calendar: The Gallipoli commemorations. Once a year all eyes are on Gallipoli as thousands of people from all over the world, including the Australian prime minister, gather to remember. Definitive Events, one of our clients, has earned the right to be the event managers. Even though they are highly experienced in organising complex events, this event in particular had some difficult elements. They have managed the event for some years, and Rod Lockwood, the MD, built the Byron Bay Blues Festival, and runs many others. These guys know what they are doing.
Gallipoli has special challenges apart from the remote location and unique “green” environment. Royals, political leaders, government officials, security services, media, the public and event organisers all gathering on a revered historical site. And when a “VVIP” arrives (that’s very very), so do a cavalcade of security and emergency vehicles, armoured vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and special services for close protection. All these groups need to be managed while at the same time meeting their requirements and regulations. The pressure to get it right is intense. And with the Centenary fast approaching, the intensity is increasing.
Getting multiple government bodies from Turkey, Australia and New Zealand onto a remote site to discuss the arrangements, isn’t an easy task either.
Organising such a high-profile and complex event is challenging, especially when you’re 15,000 kilometres away. And of course the heritage of the site brings along its own challenges, as it needs to be handled with care and respect. Unable to penetrate the ground with tent poles etc, the regulators are watching the operation closely, and every change and detail needs permission from a raft of agencies.
Working with a large variety of stakeholders, cultures and languages makes communicating even harder. As the whole world is watching the pressure to succeed is high. How do you explain simply to a non-English speaking construction worker where to build the fencing? How do you ensure all the event managers have a clear view on the distance between the seats and the stage? And how does security know if all the emergency exits are in the right spot? Effectively communicating your plan, streamlining discussions and deliberations and getting all the stakeholders on the same page has been extremely time consuming for the event manager.
Each change and approval took many meetings and days of negotiations as multiple government officials from multiple countries and authorities were taken to the site to discuss a new arrangement. A small change such as moving the seating arrangement two feet to the left requires permission. Even though they use advanced CAD tools, the regulators had difficulty understanding the arrangements. Meetings would repeat and authorities would get anxious, which then led to stress.
Recently, new roads were built at the Gallipoli site, changing drainage and the site layout. As a result a new Northern Entrance was required. The site, however, consists of headstones and cemeteries, and when a change is to occur, people get concerned and nervous across all the governing organisations – the regional government, the Turkish government, the Australian and New Zealand governments, and even the Turkish Military Police. This one change would historically have taken an enormous amount of time and effort, including site visits.
Then there is communicating with the users, the visitors. Information on emergency exits, toilets, first aid, how to navigate the site, where the landmarks are and so on. Every time this changes, imagery and plans need to be updated for the Information Booklet and the posters around the site. The logistics of providing current, clear information was a whole task in itself.
Moreover there is the site planning. Optimising and getting it perfect, whatever the weather brings. Seating, stalls, fencing, lighting, shelters, trucks and vans, car parks and corals for pedestrian flow. A large asset library is involved in the organisation of a large scale event like Gallipoli. More importantly, all these elements relate to each other. In the end it is all about people and their experience of the event. There can’t be any confusion, hiccups, or misplacements on the day, and therefore there are plans and backup plans of backup plans. And it is key that everyone involved has a clear understanding of these plans.
Whether you’re designing a city or organising an event, you need visibility on the complex multifaceted interplays between the site, people, vehicles, elements and temporary and permanent aspects. This becomes even more important when you’re working at a remote peninsula, like Gallipoli, under short, intense time spans. It is difficulties like these that led Definitive Events to engage a visualisation platform that would help them manage expectations, and improve the planning process. Eventually Definitive Events’ clients, the government agencies, have requested to “get rid of all the old plans”, and solely use the application. The ability to build trust quickly and communicate unequivocally across everyone has saved time, money, risk and stress.
The key to getting everyone on the same page is providing them with a shared and common view instantly. When multiple stakeholders and professions are involved they need to visualise the design in context, and see how all the different pieces fit together, not in isolation.
For successful major event planning you need:
- Visibility on the site – a “good enough” scale representation in 3d of the entire layout, terrain and key features of the site. Of course, more accuracy gives more certainty, but survey material can be hard to come by on sensitive military sites, and it is about being ‘fit for purpose’.
- Asset libraries with Easy Placement tools – the required assets that will be placed and moved on the site to significant accuracy. In this case seating, lighting, fencing, shelters, security gates, trucks, vans, cars etc.
- Speed and agility – a tool that moves in real time for use in meetings to demonstrate exactly how all the pieces fit together. This is where CAD tools are not sufficient.
- Integrated Visual Fidelity – always having a clear picture of the scenario from every angle all the time allows instant understanding in real time, but also allows any number of images to be captured instantly and videos to be made quickly. Ease of Use – the 3d visual platform needs to be simple enough for a non-3d user to commandeer live in meetings. Measurement, moving assets, characters and objects, moving the camera, changing environment conditions, switching options on and off.