Johan Cruijff ArenA as innovation hub to test new ideas

Johan Cruijff ArenA is a key example in the field of innovation and technology. Willem Hegen, Crowd Services Manager at the ArenA, discussed several ongoing projects during ESSMA Spotlight.

Welcoming 1.2 million visitors each year

The multifunctional venue has several event settings with a variable capacity depending on the needs:

  • Football settting for 55,317 fans

  • In the round setting (with people on the pitch as well) for 67,000 visitors

  • End show setting for 55,000 people

  • Panorama setting for 30,000 (with a large stage over the length of the pitch)

  • Dance setting for 35,000 people

  • Amphitheatre setting for 12,000 people 

Johan Cruijff ArenA is located in an area with major transport hubs, shopping malls, entertainment facilities and offices. This makes it an interesting place for testing new technologies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue hosted several special events including pop-up dinners on the pitch and a new year’s show with virtual fireworks.

The ArenA as a living lab

We use the stadium as a living lab for both ourselves and our partners to develop new services that help create a safe and memorable experience for everyone visiting the stadium and help our partners to develop new services towards for example a city or urban environment.

Innovation has been the driving force behind Johan Cruijff ArenA’s services, from the public experience point of view but also with a focus on sustainability, operations, safety & security, etc. Once the projects have been tested at the ArenA, they are scaled to be integrated in other projects around the city or at other stadiums around the world. They are working together with both public partners, e.g. the City of Amsterdam, as well as private partners, such as Microsoft and KPMG.

The ArenA living lab focuses on 6 main themes: digital connectivity, fan experience, customer journey, sustainability & circular economy, facility management and safety & security.

Becoming a more data-driven organisation

Mr. Hegen shared a few of the projects they are currently working on:

  • Drone detection: technology to trigger alarms when a drone is detected in the area, the police receives a warning and will check it out:

  • Public-private CCTV federation: combining the CCTV systems of AFAS Live, Ziggo Dome, the city of Amsterdam and the police to expand their reach

  • Intelligent imaging: cameras capture fans in the stands to see if they respect the 1.5m distancing. The data is put into statistics to see where and when fans are gathering and can be analysed

  • Aerosol dispersion: to learn more about how aerosols behave in a stadium environment

Our goal is to become an even more data-driven organisation.

The common thread with all these projects is the aspect of data gathering, which is transferred into a ‘data lake’ to analyse the data sources. The data is then transformed into dashboards to analyse the egress, how many fans  travel to the stadium using public transport, respecting the allocated timeslots, etc. at the operational mobility centre and the stadium control room.

Only ESSMA Spotlight participants can re-watch Mr. Hegen's presentation