During the World Cup earlier this summer, we saw plenty of articles that examined the wireless infrastructure – or lack thereof – at the host stadiums. Due to the scale and attention on the event, it was inevitable that these mainly focused on whether visitors would be able to tweet from the event.
But wireless in venues is about much more than just letting attendees tell their friends on social networks about their evening. There are a host of other benefits for the venue and its staff that are possible when a stable, usable mobile infrastructure is in place – some of which we detailed in our guide.
The attention on wireless during the world cup should have focused on these benefits. At this point in time, there are a whole host of options available for stadium owners to implement stable wireless infrastructure in a cost effective manner.
As the UK Premier League returned this week, here are four of my favourite potential use cases – hopefully the industry will be more vocal about these in 2014/15.
Big data was the marketing buzzword de jour in 2013, so it’s surprising so many stadiums are still in the dark about who attends their events, let alone what they do once they’re inside. But imagine not only being able to see where spectators are inside the venue, but also where they’ve come from and where they go after.
With a solid mobile infrastructure, this is all possible. Thanks to focused coverage technologies – like the recently announced presenceCell – and improved analytics packages, it’s possible for network operators to provide data on where subscribers go before an event.
This data can be used for more than just planning footfall. As well as location, data collected can be used to profile visitors – providing insight in to who they are. You can probably imagine the host of advertising and personalization opportunities this opens up.
WFG: “Working from the game’
The idea of a business person wearing a Bluetooth headphone, tapping away on their laptop throughout a Sigur Rós concert is probably enough to strike fear in to the heart music fans. But for long-form sports, such as cricket and baseball, watching the game doesn’t necessarily mean blocking out the rest of the world for the duration.
Particularly for fixtures that occur mid-week, voice coverage is only the beginning of what spectators need, particularly those often found in the members’ stands. While they might technically be on a day off, it’s still essential that they can check email and respond to anything urgent – even from the ground. Something particularly relevant for VIP customers and those in corporate boxes.
Some venues have already attempted to address this; Sussex County Cricket ground has deployed a Wi-Fi system to the seating areas specifically to provide “virtual office” services to their spectators.
The hefty bandwidth demands that come with transmitting mobile video in a stadium means most owners have traditionally shied away from it. After all, if you’re having difficulties meeting current mobile demands, why add further network strain?
LTE-Broadcast is set to change that. Thanks to its improved usage of network capacity, it’s possible to stream content to multiple devices without overloading the network.
Many stadiums already offer their own video channel on venue-controlled television screens, providing unique coverage of the event at hand. With by transmitting this via LTE Broadcast, this could easily be monetized and made available to spectators inside the venue.
Think of how well received Sky Go’s Ashes Cricket application was by fans. If an owner were to charge visitors £5 a head for access to multiple in-game camera angles, the initial costs suddenly look small in comparison to what could prove a very lucrative enterprise.
The future of security
Most venues will have a basic PMR system in place for stewards and other staff to communicate via radio, whilst some larger venues will have a dedicated TETRA system for emergency service use.
Thanks to new developments in LTE push-to-talk radios, it’s now possible for police and security staff to relay images and video of people involved in incidents to their colleagues. This instantly provides everyone with an exact image of who to look out for and what occurred, rather than relying on vague descriptions.
This last point is perhaps made all the more significant as impending changes to the TETRA emergency services radio in the UK will see it wound down. Rather than waiting for this to happen and rushing to install LTE coverage, smarter venue owners should be starting to prioritise this now.