Behind the scenes, KORECâs Trimble GeoXT is put to work preparing for the big day
Long summer days...local strawberries in the shops...a rush on wellies â the festival season is upon us! With some of the largest events covering 300 acres and attracting audiences of around 60,000 visitors over several days, the build-up and site preparation of these festivals is key to the successful handling of artists, technical teams and visitors alike. Enter events and marketing specialists, EMO, (www.emouk.com) a Birmingham based company run by Steve Hill (pictured above) from the world of event management, production and live music, and David Andrews a marketing and events expert with extensive strategic expertise acquired from a range of high profile projects and as the âclientâ in his previous work in commercial radio. Working together they have managed some of the most high profile field and arena events in the world including Mayâs Radio 1 Big Weekend event in Carlisle and Sonisphereâs Knebworth rock festival in July. Faced with turning these green field sites, and others like them, into vast temporary âvillagesâ with all the attendant facilities and infrastructure, EMO felt that using a professional surveyor, backed up by their own traditional survey methods, to plan and set out the sites had its limitations in terms of how quickly they could change and update things once in the field. Keen to find a cost-effective and accurate solution which allowed them to retain control and gather a wider range of information as and when required, Steve Hill began researching GPS on the internet where he discovered KOREC and Trimbleâs GeoExplorerXT, a handheld GPS offering sub-metre realtime accuracy.âI could have continued to use a professional surveyor but the lure of finding a solution that offered me versatility, the chance to survey sites in greater depth without incurring additional costs and generally speed up our work, proved too great as did the chance to learn something new by carrying out the work myself,â explains Steve. âI later discovered from KOREC that other site managers I knew were already using the Trimble system with the same benefits in mind - marking out a site quickly and accurately and having the flexibility to implement changes without having to call back the surveyor. Itâs a small world!âMapping Radio 1âs Big Weekend Although a novice user of mapping grade GPS, Steve quickly picked up the main features and functions he required for his site work and following some preliminary trials on other smaller sites, put the GeoXT to use setting up Radio 1âs Big Weekend. Having been involved with the event since 2004, Steve had been the site manager for the past four years concentrating on the preparation of the location for around 40,000 people and 70+ bands over the two days. The event is in a different location each year and has constantly evolved to reach its current format of four stages - including a main stage in a 14-pole Kayam concert tent with a capacity for 12,000 - and numerous other attractions. Several months before the event, site owners Stobart Air provided Steve with a CAD plan of the site which he reset to the correct coordinates. He then carried out a site survey with his Trimble GeoXT to test the accuracy of the drawing. âOver a period of a couple of months, the site plan evolved into the finished item,â explains Steve. âThe Big Weekend site is a very busy venue and also has a large and complex TV/Radio Studio with a couple of hundred staff and technicians backed up by many Outside Broadcast vehicles and all of the infrastructure that comes with them so accuracy in laying out the site is a must. \"I marked out the first couple of features with the GeoXT and then checked the results with a bit of old-school measuring. The Geo was spot on! Once I had got over this first hurdle I decided to just trust the GPS (and my previously confirmed drawing) and get on with it. \"It was quite a liberating experience. After years of pacing about with various measuring devices and checking and re-checking the results I could now just go out and record points and attributes - simple! Previously I would have done lots of measuring and re-measuring from known datum points in order to get a site marked out as accurately as I could. \"Although this method involved an element of guesswork, dead reckoning and trusting to luck, my attention to detail and extensive checking meant that I never made a mistake. Needless to say, this wastes lots of time and distracts from the many other things I could/should be getting on with.âWhile Steve feels that he has just scratched the surface of the GeoXTâs functionality, he is now in a position to add as much or little detail to each site plan as he requires. âI could be recording anything from a treeâs position, genus, trunk diameter and canopy to boundary fences, trakway roads and pads for truck loading, to dressing room and office compounds, even a temporary police station and interview room, but donât expect to find them too clearly marked on the plan for reasons of confidentiality! \"The clear benefit of switching from traditional survey methods to the GeoXT has to be the improved accuracy of the site drawings and the speed with which I can produce them. The reliability of these drawings is vital for all involved and itâs imperative that I trust the information I provide to contractors â itâs not easy to move a stage once itâs built! In all honesty, the best thing the GeoXT has done for me is to free up my time so I can get on with being the site manager.âAfter working on Radio 1âs Big Weekend, EMO moved on to the 300 acre Sonisphere site at Knebworth preparing the area for 60,000 visitors.
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