Now in its fourth year, the Connected Stadium Summit is an opportunity for stadium, sports and entertainment organisers to meet with technology providers and innovators.
Held in Amsterdam every November, it’s an important event in the Real Wireless calendar and this year our Chief Operating Officer, Oliver Bosshard, attended to chair and speak.
A constant theme over both days was fan engagement, and how demand and expectations have increased. This includes the customers’ needs to remain connected (and sharing) at all times but also the business requirement to improve their operational efficiencies, their need to monitor, and to engage in fan activity. The focus on fan engagement, visitor experience and operational benefits, that can be reaped from a connected stadium, illustrates that the value is created over the top (OTT) – on the application layer – and that is where most innovation is happening. Stadiums have become innovation hubs, testing grounds and early adopters of new solutions.
For Real Wireless, the last 12 months have seen a shift in our own focus when speaking to industry specialists at events such as this. Smart stadia are now seen as a wider eco-system; stadia typically include a campus, are seen as a part of smart cities, and have strong links with smart transport.
Too often the starting point is the services stadium owners want to deliver and the far-reaching capabilities of the technology available (now and in the future). But the focus should be, what do you need? What does your business need and what do your customers expect? Where are the gaps? Most importantly, how can you provide those things in your existing venue, new or retro-fitted?
The focus on the application layer and services demonstrated that there is a need to link it to technology and infrastructure requirements. The right infrastructure, architecture and technology have to be defined, chosen and scaled to ensure that these services and applications can be prioritised and supported. And this is stadium specific, as none of them are the same.
In his address to the conference, COO Oliver Bosshard ran with the idea of asking what it is the client wants, instead of simply showing what the technology can achieve. Oliver said: “It’s about putting the needs of the customer first, before considering the right technology and infrastructure. It sounds simple but often our clients have been overwhelmed by the myriad solutions, technologies, architectures, frequencies and suppliers available to them. Important questions such as whether the technology can be retro-fitted into an existing building are crucial, alongside the type of service stadiums want to offer fans and the customer information they themselves need in return.”
It’s clear that venues are becoming smarter and the owners and IT managers attending this event have more awareness of the marketing and operational benefits of good connectivity. It’s not just about the fan experience, better connected stadiums havebetter safety systems, are more efficient and can deliver significant cost savings.
Oli added: “We help stadium or venue owners by capturing all their wireless requirements and then translating it into something that can be used to go to market. This ranges from preparing high-level designs and specifications for tender documents, to monitoring the stadium system implementation during the build and ensuring that the systems deployed meet the exact requirements. We’ve done this for the English FA at Wembley, the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, as well as major stadiums in the UK and across the world. We continue to help deliver reliable communications for venue and stadium owners as choices and technology evolve. Every time I come to the Connected Stadium Summit I learn more about the needs of stadium managers and owners, and we’re looking forward to supporting more venues with their wireless (and fixed!) needs in the future.”