How the smart stadium will transform the smart city

What’s the difference between a monster truck rally and a Taylor Swift concert?

Water. You can’t hold a monster truck rally without thousands of cubic meters of mud, which in turn can mean tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. By the same token, Taylor Swift’s ornate lighting and staging could can cause power consumption to zoom up the charts and unnaturally force a venue into the red zone for peak power charges. (The prevalence of tattoos, however, at both events is probably about even.)

The ability to charge accurate “bill backs” to promoters rather than just somewhat arbitrary flat fee are one of the many drivers of the smart stadium, i.e. venues wired with predictive analytics and sensors to fine-tune costs, consumption and even the fan experience.

See also: 5 key technologies of a smart city

Stadiums can be extremely difficult facilities to manage. Occupancy can zoom from a handful of people to more than 100,000 and back to empty in a few hours. They can snarl traffic, create havoc between regular residents and visitors and consume more power and/or natural gas than any building in the region. No one wants a repeat of the Super Bowl blackout.

At the same time they are also monuments to civic pride. IoT can help smooth out those differences and make everyone good neighbors.

The Seattle Mariners, for instance, managed to cut water consumption by 10%, or 2 million gallons, over a three year period in part through IoT technology. IoT help the team pinpoint leaks in pipes. (The team also discovered it only costs around $5 in power to open and close its retractable roof.)

The San Diego Padres, meanwhile, have installed LED lights, smart sensors and data management systems to better control water and power. A typical game can require 70 megawatt hours of power, 740 therms of natural gas and over 72,000 gallons of water, or about 48 hot tubs. Through IoT, the team expects to cut resources by more than 25% over the next five years.

The stadium is a key “citizen” of tomorrow’s cities

But the benefits go far beyond power. Sound abatement is increasingly one of the biggest problems for venues as stadiums and urbanites continue to flock to the heart of town. IoT gives people an objective way to monitor and better control sound. Better security and safety? IoT in one venue alerted the staff to a small fire caused by a hot dog roller that was accidentally left on after a game. Smart cameras for parking lots and surrounding streets will likely become standard to reduce the crime and vandalism that can sometimes mar public events.

Want to find shorter beer lines? Avoid the bathroom with a major flood? Or figure out the best way to get home or to the airport based on anticipated traffic and public transportation options? There will be an app for that.

And this is just the beginning. There are an estimated 12,216 stadiums worldwide, according to World Stadiums, and a growing number are located in megacities and emerging markets where water is scarce, power is fragile, and traffic is horrendous. Some stadiums are sparkling new, while others, date back to the 1920s. These venues can become open showcases for what’s possible.

Let the games begin.

The author is Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Partners at OSIsoft.

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