Kicking the sports stadium up a notch

The calabash-shaped structure in the heart of Johannesburg is a tangible reminder of the high-energy elation that South Africa was left with following from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Although the stadium was plagued by concerns of becoming Joburg’s next white elephant, it still has a lot to offer the country’s avid sports fans. By allowing stadium visitors to immerse themselves in engaging new content and interactive experiences, the sports stadium of the future could drive interest from a hoard of new tech-savvy fans.

From finding the perfect parking spot to standing in the shortest queue to buy a hotdog, global stadiums are already paving the way for a whole new user experience. Here are some of the ways that local stadiums can follow suit.

Park that thought

Sufficient, secure parking is often a huge issue for sporting event organisers. As an alternative, smart stadiums from across the globe are offering mobile apps which can guide you to the nearest location with ample parking space. These same stadium apps can also assist you with finding your friends at the gate.

Informational beacons and a data-driven approach

Upon entering the stadium, fans are also being greeted by analytics-driven digital displays. Through beacons, promotions on these displays are being personalised and customised to individual fan’s needs. These same digital displays can also indicate important information such as the shortest food queues and even the closest restrooms.

As an added bonus, data gathered through the beacons can then assist organisers to understand fan behaviour, such as what sort of food is the most popular and people’s general movements around the stadium.

Creating an interactive fan-sperience

Once in the stadium, fans have the opportunity to interact on the next level. Decibel sensors are now being embedded within the stadium seating so that fans can engage in live cheering contests. Smart, wearable tickets will log a fan’s seating location so that the loudest fan can collect their prize. Those same smart tickets can grant fans access to social media kiosks where they can share live videos and images of the game with friends.

Enhancing operational measures

Beyond the fan experience, real-time facial recognition technology can be used to identify any unusual or suspect behaviour. Intel technology is powering a face recognition engine that can rapidly and accurately identify people – even when they are moving and in a crowd – to help detect and prevent possible incidents at critical facilities and public venues.

On another operational level, the Internet of Things (IOT) can offer efficiency features, where lights can be turned off in unoccupied areas. This in turn maximises visitor comfort, while reducing energy consumption and costs.

In fact, all of the above innovations have been made possible through the Intel IOT platform. Sensors placed throughout a stadium link to gateways and ultimately the cloud. From there, advanced analytics can optimise everything – from the fan experience to operations – while delivering real-time insight.

And these innovations are just the start. This year Intel and the IOC partnered to bring Intel’s leading technology to enhance the Olympic Games. Beginning with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Intel will focus primarily on infusing its 5G platforms, VR, 3D and 360-degree content development platforms, artificial intelligence platforms and drones, along with other silicon solutions to enhance the Olympic Games.

It is clear that the opportunity to take South Africa’s stadiums up a notch is ripe for the picking. Connecting the Calabash will ensure that it is equipped for the generations of tomorrow.