Digital lens: What makes a stadium smart?
Teach it Latin, or dress it in a suit and tie? No – as much as I’d like to see Anfield dressed in a tuxedo and reciting some Quintilianus – a smart stadium is one that works for both its visitors and owners through integrated technologies. So, what does a stadium really require to be smart?
Top of the heap sits WiFi – the cornerstone of any smart stadium is its connectivity solution. A robust WiFi network throughout the stadium breathes life into all the innovative technologies, fan engagement opportunities and promotional activity football clubs or stadium owners could want. Fast, reliable and secure WiFi means fans can access content quickly (a necessity during a fast-paced football match), increased revenue at stadium concessions and more efficient back-of-house operations, e.g., security, marshalling, first aid, etc.
A state-of-the-art mobile app
The ideal partner for stadium WiFi, a cutting-edge mobile app is possibly the most efficient and profitable way to engage with fans on match day. The best examples of these can be found in the US, which is leading the way on this front – many NFL, NBA and MLB teams provide apps with broad and exciting features.
- Parking spaces/location
- Ticket purchasing and upgrades
- Check-in and seat location
- Ordering of food and drink for delivery to seating
- Finding the toilet with the shortest queue
- HD instant replays and other video
- Exclusive team content
- Promotions and discounts
- Real-time statistics
- Traffic information
Every team or franchise without an app is scrambling to catch up with their rivals, as it’s clear to see just how beneficial they are for both the fans and business.
Where’s my burger? Again, the US is at the forefront here, with innovative concession and merchandising mobile PoS systems. Admittedly, the match-day experience is a considerably different beast over there, with games drawn out much longer than the 90-minute football frenzy of the Premier or Football Leagues, but implementing similar systems here would still reap the benefit of reducing queues, or even having to leave your seat at all.
Used as a complementary technology to the app, beacons can be used by clubs to track fan movements, behaviours and spending within the stadium, revealing important and useful data. Beacons can have a fun side too, though – serving instant promotions and other short messaging, e.g., trivia, facts and stats to passing fans.
There is the potential to use further technology to smarten up the stadium experience for both fans and venue owners:
- Interactive touchscreens/kiosks serving location maps – thereby allowing purchases and orders to be made
- Large format video screens – okay, so this is perhaps more suited to US-based sporting venues, but how about lots of smaller screens on stadium concourses allowing fans to keep up with the game while they queue?
- In-stadium targeted advertising – customised sponsor adverts and offers based on location/area, or even what’s happening during a game
- Body-mounted video streaming – already in mainstream use in the US; and as with the video screens, may be less suited to the UK’s favourite sports, but who wouldn’t want to get a pitch-level perspective from their team?
The data platform: the real brains of the operation
All these technologies are pretty cool, but none of them really matter without a strong data platform, through which to unlock and analyse all of the collected data. App usage, website visits, social media interaction, concession purchases, merchandise sales, video views, beacons, ticketing and more can all be collated and interpreted to improve marketing, facilities, safety, etc.
That’s what makes a stadium really smart.
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Whether you’re a local authority looking to provide public WiFi or seeking a connectivity solution for Smart Cities, the IoT or 5G / Small Cells in your town or city, or if you are interested in partnering with us around the Connected City Platform in any of our forthcoming town and city roll-outs, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.