Why should fans endure the cost and stress of attending a football match when they can watch the excellent TV coverage from the comfort of their own sofa? The pull for fans is the unique shared atmosphere, the excitement of being there, and the fear of missing out by staying away. Now, dozens of US stadia are using IoT to make match days more hassle-free.
Levi’s Stadium in California, the home of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team, is using hundreds of Bluetooth beacons and a smartphone app to direct fans to their seats, bars, restaurants and toilets. The data collected gives the stadium insight into fan behaviour and congestion hot spots, and queue times are fed back to fans. Similarly, the US Major League Baseball’s Ballpark app uses beacons to retrieve ticket details and guide fans within the stadia. On this side of the pond, Croke Park Stadium in Dublin has trialled beacons successfully and will roll out stadium-wide beacons in 2016. However, overall, there’s little sign of IoT use in UK stadia.
Stadium owners are understandably cautious about new technologies, and IoT has suffered from hype and confusion. A common theme at IoT events in 2015 was “think big, start small, adapt”. This is the approach taken by Croke Park, starting with the beacon trial before a widespread rollout.
iWireless Solutions exhibited at the Connected Stadium Summit in November 2015. Peter McKenna from Croke Park and Tom Gorringe from Brighton and Hove Albion presented there, both emphasising the importance of engaging the new generation of supporters in the stadium experience as these are the loyal stadium fans of the future. Technology-savvy children expect useful apps at their fingertips, and parents expect a safe and secure stadium environment. Surely it’s time for UK stadia to start their own trials of new technologies to enhance the fan experience. Otherwise fans will be able to control their home thermostat from their seats but will still have to queue for a drink.
If you would like find out more about IoT or what iWireless Solutions has to offer do not hesitate to speak to Mike Kennett, our Wireless Consultant.