The Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud and Sport. All massive industries which are growing and evolving daily.
Yet they are all converging to create a deeply analytical solution for sales teams, arenas and stadiums, and an immersive experience for fans and broadcasters alike.
Cisco is talking about the era of the ‘Connected Athlete’, where sensors are placed on athletes, from body sensors which monitor heart rate and distance travelled, to sensors on football boots to measure movements and impact when making contact with the ball. Previously, pundits had player position data to discuss in halftime, or during tennis matches Hawkeye has enabled the analysis of ball location and journeys. In the future, will commentators be instead assessing player heart rate trends and in-game fitness levels during halftime discussions? Or will managers be substituting players based on body sensor data in the near future?
Cisco’s dream is to ‘connect the unconnected’ by turning the athlete’s body into a ‘distributed network of sensors and network intelligence’. Or a “wireless body area network” as they like to call the human body.
The proliferation of devices and sensor technology has suddenly made the Internet of Things into a ‘now’ rather than a ‘future’ technology. Fans’ use of mobile devices during matches means that sports clubs have a way to directly communicate with their consumers; providing real-time match and athlete data direct to mobile phones.
We are also seeing the development of ‘intelligent buildings’ – where all devices are connected, from intruder alarms, to stadium ticketing systems through to thermostats and more. Data can be collated across the entire stadium, to measure where spectators are congregating, which queues are taking longer to service and which crowds need to be monitored.
Digital signage is also coming into the IOT fold, by providing real-time information to stadium visitors to keep them updated. This could be in the form of providing data about match statistics, or queue information to ease congestion.
Aside from providing a more immersive and interactive experience to fans, the Internet Of Things and big data is allowing stadiums to improve their operations and reduce their running costs. For instance, real-time monitoring of thermostats paired with data on where spectators are within the stadium could allow facilities managers to turn down the heating or air conditioning to suit, rather than having a one-size fits all temperature management solution that can only be adjusted once the heat or cold becomes a noticeable problem.
On the ticketing front, sensors monitoring crowds entering venues can alert stadium management to how many ticket booths they need to open, which entrances require more ticket booths for the next hour and which can be closed due to a smaller than expected number of visitors. Being able to make decisions in real-time and create data pictures of a venue should help stadiums to make their operations more efficient based on real insights, rather than previous (and out of date) match data or intuition.
The Internet of Things in sport goes beyond the stadium and into fans’ homes. Stadiums can now connect into fans who may be viewing matches remotely to share data (and from a commercial point of view: share offers, tickets and merchandise) directly with fans, whether they are in the stadium or not. And as only one third of the world is connected to the internet, there is huge potential for stadiums to connect with new customers in the future as they gain connectivity.
On the pitch, data usage is becoming the norm. An article in the Guardian highlights how last year’s Six Nations Championship produced 2 million rows of data per game (that’s 1,400 actions such as tries, tackles, passes, kicks etc). And the NFL is starting to arm players with a set of RFID sensors to track their activity on the pitch. This can potentially provide real-time biometric data to managers and fans alike during matches to encourage spectators to continue visiting live games, alongside helping coaches to understand how to improve training methods to produce better results.
And Cisco sees this as just the beginning. The next step on their horizon is the Connected Patient, by bringing sensor technology to patients in hospitals to track patient lifecycle throughout the hospital process.
Underpinning the Internet of Things is the ability to quickly collect, process and share data. And underpinning that movement of data is cloud. Cloud enabled technology allows stadiums to track data from thousands of sensors, hundreds of applications and millions of fans.
From our datacentres in the Midlands, C24, a Six Degrees Company, delivers cloud hosting solutions that underpin business analytics technologies within some of the world’s leading sports clubs and stadium.
We believe the Internet of Things in the arena and stadium space is an exciting and innovative industry to be in, and we look forward to working with some of the most ambitious sports and stadium clients on the planet who want to use analytics to take their businesses stratospheric.