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Digital race operations and connected fans – innovative transformation at the Tour de France
For A.S.O., the organizers of the Tour de France, creating a revolutionary fan experience and optimizing race operations is critical to the continued success of this iconic event. For the last seven years, we’ve co-innovated a data-driven solution to provide insights to fans and broadcasters and improve operational efficiency. This partnership leverages the combined expertise of the two organizations, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in one of the world’s most demanding sporting environments. In 2021 we’re continuing to push the boundaries of the solution creating the world’s largest connected stadium over the 3,400km of the Tour, building a digital twin of the race and giving the race organizers real-time visibility across the event, and empowering data-driven decision making.
Advancing an innovation agenda
The world of sport is always innovating. Just as the teams riding the Tour de France are always looking for ways to improve their performance A.S.O. are on a journey of constant innovation. Their digital transformation journey is focused on continually creating new experiences for their fans, both long-time followers and those who may be discovering the Tour for the first time. At the same time, they’re leveraging the platforms created to drive fan engagement to transform race operations, enabling their teams, wherever they are, to make faster decisions informed by real-time data.
To deliver this they needed to digitally transform the race and to enable this, for the last seven years we’ve worked together to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the challenging environment that makes up this iconic event.
Starting in 2015 with live tracking of riders and providing real-time data for broadcasters, the set of services has grown each year. 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.
In 2020, this included hosting the first-ever Virtual Tour de France, when the physical event was delayed because of COVID-19, leveraging the capabilities of a globally distributed support team.
Just as A.S.O. have always looked to explore the possibilities technology offers over the previous 107 editions of this iconic event, 2021 is no different. However, for this year they looked to broaden the focus to connect all of the different elements of the event digitally.
This will support the race operations, but also enable the creation of new fan experiences at the race in the future.
Managed Services, Consulting Services, Technology Infrastructure Services, Managed Security Services, Managed Network Services, Managed Collaboration Services, Infrastructure and cloud services
Digital Transformation/ Innovation,
Advanced data analytics,
Artificial intelligence/Machine learning
'Supporting a race as complex as the Tour de France is a real challenge. Our partnership with NTT has allowed us to continually look for ways to innovate, using technology to advance our objectives.’, Chief Technology Officer, A.S.O.
Creating the world’s largest connected stadium
As their Official Technology Partner, we work with A.S.O. to continually explore the potential that technology offers to the Tour de France. This forms part of the long-term innovation roadmap that enables them to continually push the boundaries of what is possible.
At the heart of this is the real-time IoT and analytics solution that enables them to create a rich, digital experience for fans. This experience is delivered across broadcasts, social media, and dedicated applications reaching fans on their platform of choice. Embracing a co-innovation approach, we’ve been able to help broadcasters incorporate live data into their offerings, delivering greater insights into the race for viewers. Digital-first fans can follow the action on Race Center, social media, and through an augmented reality app.
Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning we’ve created the #NTTPredictor that enhances our data-driven storytelling approach providing fans with additional insights into the possible outcome of the race. This is also used to augment the Tour’s fantasy league, providing an additional platform for A.S.O. to engage with fans.
In 2020 we moved our data and analytics solution to a new, more flexible platform, allowing the team behind it to take advantage of the latest advances in platform technology. This allowed us to create a hybrid solution that uses the most appropriate infrastructure and cloud platforms for each element including physical, virtual, containerized, and serverless technologies. This stood our partnership in good stead when we evolved the platform to support the first Virtual Tour de France when the race was delayed because of COVID-19.
The impact of COVID-19 meant that supporting the Tour needed an innovative approach with the entire race supported via a team distributed across five continents.
In 2021 we’re leveraging this foundation to enable a new level of fan engagement while enabling A.S.O. to take advantage of the latest developments to optimize race operations.
Over three weeks we’re turning the roads of France into the world’s largest connected stadium, creating a revolutionary fan experience for those lining the route as well as fans across the world. The augmented reality application provides fans with a real-time view of the progress of the race on their mobile device integrating a 3D map with data insights and the ability to track individual riders in real-time.
At the Arrival and Departure villages, the NTT Media Wall provides an integrated big screen experience. leveraging our data analytics solution fans can follow the race live, viewing live footage accompanied by data-driven insights, creating a compelling live experience.
Next-generation race operations
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.
As the Tour passes through some of the most remote and rugged terrain in France, a challenge that they faced was providing race officials accompanying the race with access to real-time data and broadcast footage. Leveraging edge computing we’re able to provide critical information and visuals to the race vehicles, enabling them to have full visibility of the race even in areas where traditional networks can’t provide coverage.
This is all enabled by our Managed Services, ensuring that all aspects of the race are seamlessly delivered, with our Managed Security Services protecting the entire solution, with advanced threat detection and management of the cybersecurity infrastructure.
A global support team
In 2020 we supported the entire Tour de France virtually with a team distributed across five continents. In 2021 we’re doing this again, ensuring that the infrastructure delivering the Tour de France solution is ready to deliver critical data to the world. Through our suite of collaboration solutions, we’re able to connect our teams with A.S.O. personnel wherever they are, delivering an exceptional client experience.
Seven years of innovation
Since becoming the Official Technology Partner of A.S.O. in 2015, we’ve continued to work together to continually drive innovation at the Tour de France. This has enabled us to leverage a strong technology foundation to deliver richer experiences for A.S.O.’s audiences and digitize their event operations.
Expanding digital frontiers
By creating a connected stadium experience across the length of the Tour de France, A.S.O. will be able to deliver an exceptional fan experience, anywhere, anytime. This builds on the foundation of previous innovations such as the Race Center website, interactive fan experiences including the Tour de France fan club, the fantasy league, and 3D race tracker, and the @letourdata social media channel.
In 2020, 33 million people accessed Race Center, @letourdata saw 9 million impressions over the three weeks of the Tour, and in its first year, the official Tour de France fantasy game saw almost 200,000 people take part.
With multiple ways to access data-driven storytelling, all generations of fans can enjoy the race with greater insight than ever before.
Building a culture of constant improvement
The strong co-innovation relationship between A.S.O. and NTT strives towards continual innovation. Not only is there a constantly evolving technology roadmap, but the combined expertise of the two organizations ensures that no journey is ever complete.
The initiative to build the world’s largest connect stadium enables A.S.O. to achieve their aim of delivering a richer, digital experience to the millions of fans who line the roads of France every year. At the same time, they’re starting on their journey of digitizing the operations of the race, providing their teams with the real-time data they need to make faster, more informed decisions.
Driving efficiency through a platform-based strategy
The continued evolution of the Tour de France solution is underpinned by NTT’s managed services. Using NTT’s scalable platforms and services has helped us to drive efficiencies in operational delivery while enabling ongoing innovation. In the seven years, we’ve supported the Tour we’ve seen the scope of the solution increase 5X, while the cost of delivering this has halved.
'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.', CEO, Amaury Sport Organisation