Willow sat down with SoFi Stadium & Hollywood Park’s Chief Technology Officer Skarpi Hedinsson and Vice President of Engineering, Parking, and Transportation Chan Onechanh to explore the benefits Willow has brought to the iconic SoFi Stadium, an unprecedented and unparalleled sports and entertainment destination in Inglewood, California.
“We had learned as we were in construction about the potential of digital twins, and certainly coming from a technology environment where single sources of truth are really important — managing all of your data in a single place,” said Skarpi. “We felt that a digital twin was a technology that we should look really, really carefully at.”
SoFi Stadium & Hollywood Park engaged with Willow to deliver a first of its kind digital twin, deploying a unique solution by using a combination of digital engineering services and our innovative, data-driven software platform WillowTwin™.
“Knowing how incredibly complex these modern buildings are, it’s really starting to strain the traditional methods that we have used to manage and maintain and operate these buildings and so tools like digital twins I think will become a necessity for stadiums, for venues, for other complex public assembly venues. I think it’ll be absolutely critical,” adds Skarpi.
SoFi Stadium is an unprecedented and unparalleled sports and entertainment venue in Inglewood, CA. The stadium is the centerpiece of Hollywood Park, a near 300-acre mixed-use development featuring retail, commercial office space, a hotel, residential units, and outdoor park spaces. SoFi Stadium will host the Super Bowl LVI in February, the College Football National Championship game in 2023, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympic Games.
Watch the customer story below.
Skarpi: Hi, my name is Skarpi Hedinsson. I am the Chief Technology Officer here at SoFi Stadium & Hollywood Park. I’m responsible for all technology across the stadium and the site. So we’re in Inglewood, California, which is very central to the L.A. area. SoFi Stadium & Hollywood Park is a 300-acre development for sports and entertainment. It really started off with the vision of the Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke — he wanted to build a stadium that was truly differentiated, truly was representative of L.A., and something that the city could be really proud of. It starts here inside of SoFi Stadium, which is the absolute state-of-the-art 70,000-seat-plus stadium, but also expands to our 300-acre campus where we will develop residential and retail and office buildings.
Chan: My name is Chan Onechanh. I’m the Vice President of Engineering, Parking, and Transportation, as well as overseeing our sustainability program here at SoFi Stadium. I think we’ll be unique in the sporting landscape of America because of our infrastructure — the size and scale of the project itself — but as well as being the first building that I’m aware of to utilize a digital twin software technology. I think that technology in the stadium is complex — there’s a lot of different types of systems that are included in the stadium’s 3 million square feet. All those systems together create a very complex infrastructure that has never been brought together within one stadium footprint.
Skarpi: The first thing that we pay attention to is our infrastructure. We have a very, what I would call, a diverse site — meaning that it has to host not just NFL football games but all sorts of events, whether that’s concerts, opening ceremonies for the Olympics. To be able to accommodate those different types of events, we’ve thought very thoroughly about our infrastructure, our networking, how we connect the 300 acres together with the stadium so that we can put on this seamless experience for our guests and for our productions, and our teams, and our events that come in. The thing to notice is the enormous video board that hangs over the field. It is the largest video board ever designed and installed for sports — 80 million pixels of LED in our bowl. We pair that also up with a differentiated sound system. Because [of] the design of our video board, we’re able to place the speakers centrally, and so we think the combination of what we can do in media, what we can do in audio, is going to be incredible come game day.
Chan: Some of the challenges of managing the project of this size is really the scale of it all. If you look at an arena where maybe the size of four arenas trying to manage the three million square feet and then finding the right mix of staff can one coordinate the software, the data, as well as the physical plant and the physical aspect and size of the building.
Skarpi: We have a building that is 3.1 million square feet. We have a site that’s 300 acres. And so, every aspect of managing that – operation, security — understanding the complex environment so it’s a large place, it’s a very complex building from a systems perspective. We had learned as we were in construction about the potential of digital twins, and certainly coming from a technology environment where single sources of truth are really important — managing all of your data in a single place. We felt that a digital twin was a technology that we should look really, really carefully at.
Chan: We needed a tool to help bring all that data together for us, try to coordinate everything into one kind of data platform where we could find a single source of truth for our data, our asset management, and try to catalog everything that goes into this building. Being an early adopter of this technology, being the first to market in regards to having a digital twin for the building, I think it puts us ahead of the curve in regards to what people will be doing into the future and what solutions people are trying to find.
Skarpi: Some of the benefits of having a digital twin — this is something that elevates our ability to manage and operate this complex building so that’s everything really from people that are trying to book events, or our operations team that’s trying to set up for events, or our facilities team that’s in charge of maintaining the building. We can do anything as simple as simply jump into a three-dimensional model and take a measurement of a space, which allows us to quickly respond to a request or a question about what’s possible in a particular space, and these are really tool sets that serve our enterprise from what I would call frontline workers to the very complex engineering tasks that we have.
Chan: I think the biggest benefit for me is to be able to go to one software platform and have an understanding of the stadium immediately in front of me. It provides a shortcut to some of the questions that come up most often — things like how tall is the ceiling height in this space, what is the square footage. A lot of times when you’re looking for that information, someone has to take all the architectural drawings and then develop a shortcut in regards to ‘this is the square footage of this room’, but the twin brings all of that piece of information into one location so you can see it in one place versus looking at different catalogs of information.
Skarpi: You know, we chose Willow for a number of reasons, but for me it really goes back to those early, early days when I was engaging with Josh [Ridley] and Josh flew out here to talk to us about Willow, the product, and the company, and introduce us to their people. And really for us, it was also introducing us to the concept of digital twin. This was new technology, so [it is] incredibly important for us to have a partner like Willow that took its time with us, helped educate us, and really helped customize a solution for the things that were important to us. I love all of the aspects of how they are thinking about developing services on top of the twin, the idea of offering services in an App-Store-like model — these were all things, as we looked at them closely, were really important to us. And when they came into the project, we were already three years into construction, and so the amount of collateral that had been generated and then their ability to really absorb all of that and start modeling that out was incredibly important. And I think that’s something that’s worth mentioning about Willow — it’s not just what you see on the screen, but it’s the services behind it, it’s the people behind it.
Chan: I think we’re finding out that it’s adaptable, and Willow is willing to take that journey with us to find better use cases outside of the traditional mechanical, electrical, engineering kind of use case security. Getting into programming, getting into event operations, every day use for guest service. I think Willow sees it as a platform that can grow into other spaces versus just the traditional kind of twin of a physical space.
Skarpi: I think the digital twin technology is really going to accelerate how we think about building operations. The thing that I am the most excited for is as we connect all of the equipment and the devices in the building into the twin, we will start getting real-time information off of that equipment. We will be able to overlay that with other data sets so our digital twin allows us to be a little bit more open with that data without compromising our security in any way.
Chan: I think in five years, more people will start to use this technology, especially arenas and venues will look at this technology whether they’re an old building or a new building, to try to find a solution that would better help the staff and better help more use case scenarios amongst even the marketing, sales [teams]. The more people use it, the more advanced the technology become, and the better the software overall will become for everyone.
Skarpi: This is a stadium that is designed and built for the future. Every aspect of the design, as well as the technology, has gone into it thinking about what is the state of the art, how can technology elevate the guest experience, how can technology help us run the building more efficiently, how can it help us operate everything that we have inside so it’s truly a 21st century project and really the first of its kind to feature the technologies that we put in here. We’re going to look back and think in amazement to the days where we didn’t have a tool like this. Knowing how incredibly complex these modern buildings are, it’s really starting to strain the traditional methods that we have used to manage and maintain and operate these buildings and so tools like digital twins I think will become a necessity for stadiums, for venues, for other complex public assembly venues. I think it’ll be absolutely critical.