How to leverage IoT at sports stadiums and other entertainment facilities

The Internet of Things (IoT), if holistically deployed, offers sports stadiums many great new opportunities to make money, work more efficiently, control traffic and crowds, and give fans a more memorable experience where they can use smartphones to make purchases and view replays.

New systems that harness artificial intelligence and video analytics, IoT sensors and high-speed wireless networking are coming on the scene that will let stadiums bring this futuristic fan experience to life. While some aspects of the stadium of the future have already been rolled out, such as more efficient Wi-Fi and using smartphones to gain stadium entry, expect more exciting use of video analytics and simulations for crowd control in the years ahead.

Here’s a checklist the ways IoT can change how sports stadiums are managed:

  1. Safety and security. IoT sensors can monitor when and where crowds develop during the course of an event, which lets the stadium authority make better decisions on how to manage the flow of the crowd. Using artificial intelligence and analytics, it’s now possible to run simulations of the best possible ways to have the crowd exit during an emergency. A large race course stadium operator in Asia ran such a simulation and reduced the time it takes the crowd to exit in an emergency down to four minutes from eight minutes. In addition, the combination of facial scanning with video analytics also lets security guards at sporting events and in large crowds identify people who may pose a security risk. The results of the video scans are sent to the stadium’s central data center, where analysts can notify police of potential security issues.
  2. Fan experience and monetization by stadium authority. Today’s fans expect tech basics such as adequate Wi-Fi and the ability to enter the stadium using their smartphones. But there’s so much more the technology can offer. For example, fans can download a stadium app that will let them order food and drinks from their seat, make a reservation for an Uber or taxi after the game, make dinner reservations and receive instant replays during the course of a game. All of these services are opportunities for stadiums to monetize. When fans make reservations for a ride or dinner reservations, if they are made via the stadium app, a percentage of those fees will go back to the event operator. Today, concessions account for about 50 percent of stadium revenue. Through these new type of cooperative marketing arrangements, stadiums hope to increase that number to about 70 percent.
  3. Workforce management. The new technology can track what fans buy at the concessions stands, which will let stadiums order and stock food, drinks and fan merchandise more efficiently. Stadiums will also determine based on crowd size how many janitors they will need to clean toilets and pick up garbage after a game. In addition, based on how much food and drink fans purchase, stadiums can determine how many people they will need to work the concession stands and how many people they’ll need to walk through the stands selling merchandise.

The possibilities for stadiums to leverage IoT and create these new experiences for fans, make money and more efficiently manage facilities are very exciting, but it takes an integrator to help stadiums look at these challenges holistically.

Muralidhran-Nadarajah-headshotMuralidhran Nadarajah is DXC Technology’s Global Consulting Head for Travel & Transportation. Murali has more than 25 years of experience in start-up, public sector, and Fortune 300 environments, helping organizations set strategy and re-engineer business processes. He has deep experience within collaboration technologies, digital business operating models, crowd modeling and simulation.

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