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Attending a major tournament is a bucket list event for any tennis enthusiast. There’s nothing like sharing the excitement with other fans, watching player tactics, and feeling the competitive buzz. And unlike watching on television, you can make quick decisions on which players to follow and games to watch, and especially, where to buy the best souvenirs.
But with more than a half million spectators, more than 100 competitors, and 30-plus courts, there are many operational challenges in running a safe and smooth tournament. Crowd management—with or without social distancing—is a huge one. This means organizers must have accurate and real-time people counts across a large venue to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for fans, players, press, and others.
“Facility managers need to proactively prevent having too many people in any single area,” says Tom Urquhart, SVP Global Solutions at IOTech Systems, a provider of secure software edge platforms for the IIoT. “This includes the stands, concession areas, and restrooms, and even the number of people on buses arriving at the venue.”
When venue organizers can see where people are sitting, which exits are being used, and where crowds are gathered, they can redirect and respond quickly to emergency situations. Additionally, by analyzing historical data, they can reconfigure seating, concessioners, and entry points to reduce overcrowding and prevent incidents. IoT edge platforms make this information upfront and actionable.
Real-Time Information Supports Real-Time Decisions
To achieve these requirements, IOTech, in partnership with PMY Group—which designs, implements, and manages technology solutions for venues and events—deployed an edge-to-cloud platform to provide real-time visibility across the facilities.
Together, they worked with the tournament operations teams to plan a facility-wide solution. And in two months, the system was installed, tested, and operational—including hardware, software, cameras, and sensors.
Using edge AI and cloud-based technologies, the data flowed to a dashboard accessible on organizers’ smartphones, tablets, or computers. By viewing a schematic model of the venue, operators could quickly see counts in each area and identify hotspots. To gain more information about each section, they could drill down to get all relevant data for a location—both current and predicted.
#Venues of all types can have the #data needed to not only enhance attendee experiences but even lower energy use and costs. @IOTechSystems via @insightdottech
The technology allowed both managers and spectators to make decisions based on this information. Organizers could determine which matches would be most popular and adjust court assignments based on predicted crowds. And thanks to large video screens, attendees could view the location of open seats in other courts.
And the results were a big win.
“We heard from event leadership that they were blown away by the level of data and accuracy in terms of where people were in the facility at any one time,” says Urquhart. “There was much more insight into what was going on at the venue. They saw what is possible from a baseline technology viewpoint and immediately began thinking about what else they could do with this kind of information in the future.”
Edge Computing Platforms Demand High Performance
The solution combines the IOTech Edge Xpert industrial-grade computing platform and PMY Group Smart Operating Platform software.
The platform depends on powerful, reliable hardware to support these applications. That’s one reason IOTech leverages the latest Intel® technologies around GPU and CPU architectures, and software stacks like the Intel® OpenVINO™ Toolkit to facilitate inferencing.
The company also been working closely with Intel on the design requirements of one of their new products, called Edge Builder, which they will start to work on with PMY. The goal is to make the whole setup process as efficient as possible, to remotely move the software down to the physical hardware at the venue.
“Intel helped us connect with PMY, and we have been working with their team on a number of projects throughout the last year,” says Urquhart. “Going forward, our joint road map has many exciting projects, and we expect to be working with PMY for many years to come.”
AI Innovations Power New Use Cases
As the IoT edge platform becomes more robust, the possibilities are almost endless. Venues of all types can have the data needed to not just enhance attendee experiences but even lower energy use and costs. And event operators can monetize their data through advertising on digital screens—customizing content based on demographics, activities, weather, and much more.
“Growing the data set means we can bring a much richer experience for both the facility operators and users,” says Urquhart. “And we are expanding the solution beyond just stadiums to other use cases like building automation for better environmental control and secure access, for example.”
“I think the sky is the limit now that we’ve proved out the baseline technology. We’re going to be doing a lot of brainstorming as we take this next level to other applications and new markets,” Urquhart says.
This article was edited by Georganne Benesch, Associate Content Director for insight.tech