Smart stadiums: the future of live sports entertainment
The SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles - future home of the LA Rams and the LA Chargers - announced yesterday that it has selected Cisco as its end-to-end technology partner. The tech giant will work alongside the stadium’s owner, Hollywood Park, to deploy cutting edge IoT and audio-visual solutions at what will be the biggest venue in the NFL.
The global sports industry is predicted to be worth more than $614bn per year by 2022. While the majority of revenue generation for sports organisations comes from broadcasting rather than live event attendance, investment in the digital transformation of stadiums across the globe is nevertheless growing.
Through IoT technology and cutting edge wifi, sports stadiums are becoming state of the art entertainment and media hubs, not to mention unparallelled opportunities for organisations to gather customer data.
Projects like the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which opened earlier this year, use innovations like a retractable pitch - complete with a 120 tonne lighting system featuring 863 lights to keep the grass growing evenly - 1,000 square metres of digital screens, and sufficient wifi connectivity to support 62,000 football fans all using their phones at the same time developed in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wifi connectivity is a unique and challenging goal for modern stadiums, which are using increasingly sophisticated network solutions to support the tens of thousands of connected devices that descend upon a stadium on game day.
The SoFi Stadium is being built using Cisco's intent-based networking technology. will utilize Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation wireless standard, and be the largest deployment ever of the technology in a sports venue. More than 2,500 Wi-Fi 6 access points in SoFi Stadium will deliver faster speeds for immersive-experience applications, more bandwidth (four times greater capacity than the previous Wi-Fi standard) and higher reliability, all while being less taxing on a device's battery.
"SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park are the future of live sports and entertainment," said Jason Gannon, managing director, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. "We envision SoFi Stadium not just hosting world-class events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, but also serving as a dynamic media platform. Our partnership with Cisco will set a new standard for the fan experience through cutting-edge technology that will enhance the way guests interact with live events, not only at SoFi Stadium but across all of Hollywood Park."
Cutting edge enhancements of the guest experience through digital innovation are being implemented all across the US. This month, Nexus Studios went live with a public demonstration of its augmented reality experience at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
According to a Variety report, the experience allows users of Samsung’s 5G-ready phones to stream huge holograms of Dallas Cowboys players, take AR selfies with their idols, access live AR stats and scoreboards during the game, and even play an AR game that has Cowboys players facing off against robots during half-time.
Scheduled to begin use in 2020, the SoFi stadium will span 298 acres and its Cisco Vision deployment will support approximately 2,500 screens. With one central point of control for all screens, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park will have the ability to dynamically program every area of the property and take a customised approach for each screen as desired or needed.
The SoFi Stadium “will undoubtedly serve as a crown jewel in a city known for creativity, risk-taking and bold statements," said Ken Martin, General Manager of Sports & Entertainment, Cisco. "By partnering with Cisco, Hollywood Park is making a clear commitment to providing its guests with an unparalleled and seamless experience across the entire footprint of the property, all built on a technological foundation that allows us to be limited only by our collective imagination."
(Image by Cisco)
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”