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The Internet of Things: Smart Stadiums
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The Internet of Things: Smart Stadiums - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Smart Stadiums

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Smart Stadiums

Most of our conversations about the practical applications of Internet of Things center on a few basic themes: smart homes, smart cities, and supply chain logistics. In many ways, these applications still feel a bit gimmicky, despite the enormous popularity of smart home hubs such as Amazon’s Echo. Yet one emerging, practical realm of application for this technology seems not to get enough attention.

It’s difficult to think of places where real-time assistance with—and awareness of—one’s environment can be more useful than in places where large numbers of people congregate. Airports, malls, stadiums, and concert venues leap to mind. Where’s the nearest bathroom? Where can I get a cup of coffee? Is there a first aid station nearby? Where’s the most efficient place to find parking in relation to my entry point and assigned seating?

The possibilities for making our experiences more rewarding and less stressful seem endless, and in some places, such as sporting venues, they are already being explored. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, home of the NBA’s Nets, lets fans order food and beverages from their seats, check on the lines outside restrooms via live cameras, and access instant replays. At the very least, major pro sports facilities are investing in free, robust wifi for fans who must keep connected even in the midst of thrilling competition.

Several football stadiums provide real-time data on parking and traffic, two huge factors in fans’ live-attendance experience, and a major reason offered for declining ticket sales. Another concern which doesn’t seem yet to have been addressed is inappropriate boisterousness by fans, either with coarse language or other disruptive behavior. The ability to complain anonymously about fellow attendees’ behavior would empower the good fans, and encourage them to bring their families back to games.

Many people believe that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows states to make their own laws about gambling on sports will create a new surge of popularity for live sporting events, especially in the largely untapped ability with today’s technology for bettors to place wagers during the game, in real time. With good wifi and well-designed apps, fans may be able to bet on whether the next play will be a pass or run, or whether the next score will happen within the next five minutes. In one place where sports betting is already legal, Las Vegas, the NHL’s Golden Knights (who just completed their first season) and the NFL’s Raiders seem poised to make the first major inroads in this new way of sports spectatorship. The Raiders, who are scheduled to move into the brand-new Las Vegas Stadium, may be the first football team whose fans will be able to place bets from the comfort of their seats while they watch the game in person.

One problem that seems anachronistic in this always-connected information environment is specific to baseball, and thoughtful stadium tech people should get on it right away. Very often, when something strange happens on the field, and when umpires and coaches are required to consult with each other about a ruling, the fans are not privy either to the issue at hand or what the actual ruling is. This leads to all kinds of speculation by fans in attendance that never gets resolved. Fans watching at home or listening on the radio have the benefit of broadcasters’ musings, usually followed by a report from the field on what happened, but fans in the park sometimes don’t find out until they get home. There’s no reason for this. A smartphone app for the stadium, in addition to the great features already in use, should include push notifications updating fans on in-game controversy.

Improving the fan experience at the stadium means addressing the negatives, such as traffic, parking, and safety, as well as enhancing the communal camaraderie even the best home setups can’t offer, sporting venues may be able to lure fans out of their living rooms and back to their heated, cushioned, wifi-enabled seats.


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The Internet of Things: Smart Stadiums - Executive Leadership Articles

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