We were commissioned to provide a range of crowd and transport management services to support the infrastructure and operational planning for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Birmingham 2022 was the largest Commonwealth Games ever held, with 72 participating nations and over 1.5 million ticket sales. It was also the first to have more medals for women than men and to fully integrate the para competition. To support the most ambitious Games yet, huge investment was required across the West Midlands and significant planning challenges had to be faced to prepare for the 500,000 people who visited the region during the 11-day period.
The team began by reviewing plans to renovate the flagship venue, Alexander Stadium, which was to undergo significant capacity increases in advance of the Games. By highlighting key regulatory requirements, we ensured that the venue remained compliant with the Green Guide and would not hit development roadblocks down the line.
The team were then asked to review the overlay plan across eight different sports venues, informing elements such as the optimal number of security entry lanes to accommodate and operate, the layout of concessions to ensure the site made best use of the space and required number and location of evacuation exits.
Having seen the value of a spectator flow-focused approach, Transport for West Midlands then engaged the team to develop egress strategies for managing the areas surrounding key venues, to design transport hubs and outline detailed operational plans for keep everything running smoothly.
At venues such as Coventry Stadium where limited space was available outside the venue, egress plans were developed that minimised disruption to the wider transport network – avoiding public road closures and maintaining vehicle access points – all whilst meeting the spectator visitor experience standards agreed for all Games planning.
At several venues, such as the University of Birmingham, the Games would rely heavily of existing transport infrastructure with limited capacity. The teams people movement models were then crucial in estimating required train service uplifts, designing crowd management systems at stations, and developing operational plans to manage tricky cross-over periods with both spectator arrivals and departures occurring simultaneously.
Eventually the team’s involvement was extended to support planning in Birmingham City Centre which was set to become a hub of Games related activity. To help fill in a critical hole in attendance forecasting, the team leveraged their skills as pioneers in GPS data analysis to provide insight into typical public footfall levels and visitor patterns throughout the city centre. This then supported the development of a crowd management plans that proved critical in maintaining the smooth and safe movement of people across the city centre.
"you’re one of the few consultants that we have really enjoyed working with and whose work has had a real operational impact on the ground"
The 2022 Games saw the highest attendance figures of all Commonwealth Games and boasts exceptional spectator satisfactory ratings.
Across the three years of our involvement with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games the team became an invaluable part of the planning process, eventually moving to an agreement that allowed the venue management teams to regularly consult us with all key decisions made on the ground.
The teams crowd modelling directly limited additional venue renovation and landscaping to allow financial savings in the order of £100,000 on many occasions. Additionally, despite often limited venue footprints to operate within, the recommended crowd management strategies helped deliver vibrant venue grounds that felt alive but never overly crowded.
Transport operations such as train service uplifts and spectator shuttlebus services were all scaled accurately ensuring capacity for all spectators when they needed it, without inefficient overprovisioning. Where construction delays meant that renovated transport infrastructure was not ready in time to support the Games activity, the mitigation strategy made the best of the infrastructure available and transport services were supplemented in the correct areas.
The proactive crowd management approach in the city centre proved both necessary and effective, so that overall, from transport services, to venue premises, to local spectator hubs, a positive spectator end-to-end Games experience was delivered across the region.