McKinsey hosts forum for data experts on enhancing the Special Olympics

23 January 2019 3 min. read

McKinsey has hosted a gathering of local data experts to examine potential operational improvements in the lead-up to this year’s Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi.

Beginning from the middle of March, the United Arab Emirates will welcome over 7,500 athletes and an entourage of some 3,000 coaches from a record 192 participant nations for this year’s Special Olympics World Games to be hosted in Abu Dhabi – the first time the games, described as the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event, will be held in the Middle East and North Africa since the movement’s founding in 1968.

In the build-up to this year’s event, data experts from across the UAE have gathered this week for a session hosted by leading management consulting firm McKinsey & Company to examine how data analytics can be utilised to improve the operational performance of the World Games, with representatives from SAP, SAS, Xebia and Group42 reported to be in attendance alongside figures from Abu Dhabi governance bodies and the event’s Local Organising Committee.

According to the reports, the participating companies were tasked with brainstorming innovative use cases for the event data in improving operations, safety and viewing experience, with 500,000 spectators and some 20,000 volunteers alone expected to cheer on and support the competing athletes across 24 separate individual and team sports, including athletics, cycling, gymnastics, equestrian, swimming and triathlon.McKinsey hosts forum for data experts on enhancing the Special OlympicsLed by Abu Dhabi Special Olympics Chief Intelligence Officer Yousef Al Hammadi, the participating data analytics experts sought to devise tech-driven solutions in areas such as tracking and managing the sizeable vehicle fleet through the adoption of artificial intelligence, machine learning and Internet of Things technology, as well as designing easy access to information for player and sports profiles together with event schedules, venues and results.

The world of international sporting competitions is not unfamiliar with the adoption of data analysis and technology to drive operations and experience. Infosys, for example – one of the world’s leading IT consultancies – is currently teaming with the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne to enhance fan experience and  creative one of the most innovate sporting events in the world. Atos, similarly, is a worldwide partner of the International Paralympics Committee.

Special Olympics World Games governing body Special Olympics International too has previously used data to improve its operations, including with respect to its Healthy Athletes initiative which seeks to provide information, healthcare services and education for intellectually disabled people and the medical community – collating and examining data from Healthy Athletes events to deliver a greater understanding and overview of the present situation.

With respect to the Middle East, a recent study released in the countdown to the Abu Dhabi event found high levels of awareness of government disability initiatives across the MENA region, with the UAE leading the way in positive attitudes toward inclusion and the integration of people with intellectual disabilities. This developing attitude was also noted in a recent report by Strategy&, but the firm contends that much more still needs to be done.