Evolving sports: handling big data with edge applications and cloud services

With the power to both inspire and devastate spectators within just a few hours, sports hold the heartstrings and passionate loyalty of multitudes of fans.

From radio broadcasts of distant sports matches to live broadcasts across television and internet platforms, sports have become increasingly accessible to a broader fan base as innovative technologies came into play.

Edge computing makes it possible for entertainers to deliver enhanced experiences. Using computing capabilities at the edge moves processing, analytics and storage closer to where data is generated, instead of needing to use data centers or cloud services for all requirements. The benefit of this is that information can be processed and shared far more quickly, as bandwidth is freed by edge computing, and cloud services can be used more efficiently.

Similarly, the use of edge applications means that the sensors and monitors used to track a sportsperson’s or vehicle’s progress and status can deliver faster insights. This is achieved by using applications at the edge to analyze and process data at the source, delivering better response times. With this development, the available information – and the speed at which it becomes available – has increased exponentially, in turn enriching fan experiences with a wealth of new data, delivered when it matters.

Delivering reliable, real-time experiences through Edge as a Service

There’s little as frustrating to enthusiastic supporters as a missed match or delayed statistics.

By moving data processing closer to the edge and increasing bandwidth availability, the use of cloud services becomes more efficient. This is especially true when robust private networks are used to support data transfer and enable real-time capabilities. Edge as a Service solutions combine ultra-low latency, high-bandwidth connections between edge devices and the cloud, enabling advanced edge computing and delivering game-changing experiences.  

The challenges – what the research shows 

Lagging networks and applications

To deliver the best fan experience possible, entertainment enterprises need a network which can support real-time data transfer, as well as the applications required to process the generated data.

While the post-pandemic world has seen all companies implementing digital technology capabilities out of necessity, many face legacy network and application challenges. Without reliable networks capable of handling the organization's data transfer and access needs, supporting digital transformation becomes difficult.

An ultra-low latency, high-bandwidth network, such as Private 5G, ensures optimal collaboration by delivering access to the applications people need, when they need them.

Handling data at the edge

According to the Statista Research Department: ‘Over the next five years to 2025, global data creation is projected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes.1 That’s the equivalent of 180,000,000,000,000 gigabytes.

Ensuring expanding data needs can be transferred efficiently and reliably requires a network infrastructure with ultra-low latency, ultra-high bandwidth capabilities. This ensures reliable connectivity that can handle high volumes of data.

Edge applications provide the capabilities to handle data at the edge and provide local analytics and storage. As demand grows, new technologies are emerging, with the arrival of edge application stacks deliver optimized solutions at the edge that support real-time decision-making.

From streamlining operations to delivering real-time data to fans across multiple platforms, edge devices and computing enable organizations to reconsider what’s possible. Using their IoT structure together with powerful 5G networks and efficient edge applications, enterprises can revolutionize experiences for employees and fans alike. 

With the growth of edge computing, information on sports events – and the speed at which it becomes available – has increased exponentially, in turn enriching fan experiences with a wealth of new data, delivered when it matters.

Smart solutions let Penske Entertainment and INDYCAR deliver digital innovations

To bring their fans – at the venue and around the world – as close to the action as possible, we worked together to take the data generated during the INDYCAR race and deliver it to the fans.

‘In an Indianapolis 500-mile race with 33 cars going 200 laps, we take something like 8-million data records through telemetry off the cars. Fans are very much on their A-game; they want more data, they want to know what’s going on. It’s not just watching cars go around the track; it’s how come this happened or why is this happening, what’s going on with this driver or that driver,’ says Roger Penske, Chairman, Penske Corporation.

Working together has allowed Penske Entertainment and NTT to drive innovation in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES©. With the strong technological foundation underpinning motor racing, INDYCAR provides the perfect environment to explore the limits of what technology can deliver.

The spirit of co-innovation between NTT and Penske Entertainment means that we’re continuously looking for ways to innovate. Be it improving their operational efficiency or finding new ways to bring the fans closer to the racing, the close cooperation between the two organizations means that they’re always looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible. 

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Success factors

Innovation

Leverage technology innovations to deliver next-generation experiences

Experience

Exceptional fan experiences for increasingly sophisticated sports fans 

Real-time

Insight into race teams, pit stop performance and head-to-head battles 

‘The goal of the INDYCAR Data Experience, whether here at IMS on our media wall, or at home through the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT DATA, is to enhance our fans’ experience.’

SJ Luedtke
VP of Marketing, INDYCAR

11 stadiums, 11 networks – Zero downtime at UEFA Euro 2020

The UEFA European Championship is one of the world’s largest sporting events. Since UEFA Euro 2020™ marked the first time that the tournament has been staged across the continent, ensuring that each stadium stayed connected was critical to the success of the tournament. A critical part of that connectivity was ensuring internet access for broadcasters, journalists and VIPs remained stable and efficient. Similarly, UEFA’s operations officials required reliable connectivity to ensure access to internal operations applications and tools at the edge.

We completed a high-level design of the network, which focused on standardizing as many elements of the network as possible. This was essential to ensure that the support team was able to rapidly resolve any issues flagged at the edge.

Connecting these locations to the rest of the world, as well as UEFA to their own infrastructure, was of critical importance to UEFA. Each location was connected back to the International Broadcast Center near Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands by a redundant pair of 100Gbps network links. 

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Success factors

Connected

Customized network infrastructures delivered connectivity where and when it counted

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Effective

Local delivery and support meant all unique requirements were incorporated

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Support

Central support capabilities with on-the-ground technical support to ensure rapid response and resolution

'UEFA Euro 2020 is a symbol of the power of football to unite communities. This would be impossible without the technology underpinning the entire event.’

Daniel Marion
Chief of Information and Communication Technology, UEFA 

Digital race operations and connected fans through innovative transformation

Starting in 2015 with live tracking of riders and providing real-time data for broadcasters, Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) has worked to push the boundaries of what’s possible in sports. Highlights include enhanced data analytics, a full Race Center website, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide greater insight into the race, the use of augmented reality, and the creation of fantasy leagues linked to the race. In addition, we enabled the creation of data-driven storytelling, providing rich insights on social media and broadcasts; continually evolving this capability with improved visualizations and new stories for fans each year.

Building on their foundation of previous innovations, in 2020, A.S.O. saw growth across multiple areas:

  • 33 million people accessed Race Center
  • @letourdata saw 9 million impressions over the three weeks of the tour
  • almost 200,000 people played the official Tour de France fantasy game

Alongside fan-focused innovations for 2021, we’ve created a digital twin of the Tour de France to enable A.S.O. to digitally transform race operations. Leveraging a digital fabric of sensors, edge computing devices, networking technologies, and applications, the digital twin is an accurate model of the entire 3,400km of the race route as well as all other areas associated with the race. This allows the race organizers to plan their operations on an accurate model, mapping specific areas and key locations. On race day they can track the race and all race vehicles in real-time. This enables them to direct race operations with access to real-time data, providing them with full visibility of the entire race. 

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Success factors

Data-driven

A digital twin of the race provides real-time data, empowering organizers with data-driven decision making 

Real-time

Connected smart stadiums ensure data is captured and processed reliably, in real time

Insight

Multiple ways to engage, including Race Center, a game and social media, providing greater insight than ever 

‘Technology plays a vital part in helping us innovate at the speed fans expect from their mobile and cloud-based applications, all the while providing event insights, rich analytics, and intelligent digital solutions.’

Pascal Queirel
Chief Technology Officer, A.S.O
1 Amount of data created, consumed, and stored 2010-2025, Statista Research Department, 2022

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