Use Case

Real-Time Common Operational Picture Offers Stadium Directors Advanced Data Insights on a Single Screen

The Dedicated Fans


Sports are a major part of American culture. For years, the simple question, “Did you see the game last night?” has been an immediate conversation starter. For many families, and sports enthusiasts, going out to a game to support a team brings a sense of community and camaraderie.

Dedication to the sport is evidenced in the sheer numbers of fans that attend football games every year. For the last several years, the total attendance of regular season games has consistently been more than 17M per season. In the 2014 season, the average attendance per game was 68K fans.

On average, Americans spend $56B on sporting events every year attending these games. The fan experience is intense, and for many, showing up to support their team is not only part of the experience, but a way of life. Many fans make a full day by tailgating, dressed head to toe in their team’s logo by donning hats, jerseys, and even using koozies. The time and money fans spend rooting for their team is amazing, and shows their dedication:

  • Of the crowds that do tailgate, 51% arrive three to four hours early to set-up
  • 60% are between the ages 25-44
  • 42% of tailgaters spend over $500 per season on food and supplies
  • 46% of individuals tailgate six to ten times in a single season
  • 95% of tailgaters cook their food at the stadium

With so many fans arriving early to cook, socialize, and support their team, stadium operations teams must be prepared to handle the high number of people. Executive staff understand fans are dedicated to their teams, and want to provide an immersive, enjoyable experience from the moment they arrive to the parking lot to when they enter the stadium. In order to host a memorable event, operations teams must analyze and monitor volumes of data in and around the venue.

The Problem

Executive staff and their teams are tasked with analyzing data streams that speak to the activity in and around the stadium. Currently, operations teams work on separate system and split their attention between a multitude of screens. This makes it difficult to quickly cross-reference information and increases the likelihood that valuable data is getting lost in silos. Sara Bullock, Director of Ballpark Operations at Citi Field reflected on the change over the years with the adoption of new technology.

“Back in the day… you might have had one camera—nobody had video,” said Bullock. The new system at Citi Field boasts an impressive 187 cameras, and 115 doors equipped with access control.

For management, the day begins long before fans arrive and the teams take the field. At the start of the day, security staff walk the entire stadium as part of a general sweep. In the meantime, operations teams work with law enforcement to secure the perimeter and block off roads to redirect traffic patterns around the venue to reduce congestion as much as possible.

Security staff reroute vehicles to less trafficked roads and open parking lots, but do not have the real-time data or visualization they require to effectively direct crowds. Having open spaces and ample parking for fans to convene before a game is necessary. However, it can be difficult for staff to communicate to changes instantly without having real-time visualization of their data streams to make the most informed decision.

When it comes time for crowds to enter the stadium, they sometimes face long lines to get in. This leaves fans feeling frustrated, and staff overwhelmed with trying to get people through while maintaining their high standard of security. There is no way to quickly ascertain the crowdedness of all their entrances, making it difficult to direct fans to other areas and alleviate congestion in one location.

Executive staff are also concerned with the hours leading up to the game, as strict NCAA rules mandate that games are cancelled if lightning strikes within 8 miles of the stadium. This makes it imperative that operations staff closely monitor weather and lightning. While advanced weather packages exist, stadiums are often left in the dark about the proximity of lightning to the stadium, as their current technology does not easily measure the distance of a strike. Executives are put in a difficult position of calling a game with limited insight, which can leave fans feeling upset and frustrated if the event is cancelled prematurely.

The Solution

The current systems that stadiums have in place help them effectively do their job, but executives can still benefit from a holistic, interactive view of operations that empowers them with actionable insights.

9 Geospatial Technologies for a Combined View

  • Real-time geospatial technology
  • Drones
  • Radio GPS
  • Traffic
  • Parking
  • Weather
  • Lightning
  • Emergency Alerting System
  • VMS

Stadiums require geospatial technology that consolidates their existing systems onto a single screen in real-time. Leveraging this technology would allow executive staff to see all of their data streams on a common operational picture. A mapping platform also replaces the current method of using a physical map of the stadium layout to navigate the venue. Live Earth is an IoT visualization platform that is data and system agnostic. This allows for seamless integration with any existing system to provide a common operational picture that adds rich context. Executive staff can interact with the data on the screen and monitor security procedures from the beginning of the day to the end.

When stadium executives arrive to their command center, they would get a complete picture of weather, traffic, and activity happening around the stadium with a visualization platform. As security staff is deployed to patrol the stadium, operations teams can send a drone in tandem for an aerial shot. In the platform, they can open up their drone feed and watch its movement and footage in real-time. If staff were to observe something unusual, they could quickly communicate to security on the ground to move to that location in the stadium.

Operations teams can adopt radio GPS to have deeper insight into the whereabouts of all their security staff. In the mornings as personnel walk the stadium, operations teams can radio individuals quickly to direct them to another location. Visualization of all staff members on the map would streamline communication. By incorporating radio GPS, operations teams could send the closest staff members to resolve an issue, thereby improving response rates.

With crowds of people, there is a high chance that an emergency situation could occur. Stadiums can install emergency alerting systems in and around the perimeter of the venue. When a system is alerted, law enforcement is deployed, and operations teams can identify quickly the exact location on the map. Code Blue provides emergency alerting systems that integrate with Live Earth to visualize physical locations of emergency systems.

Stadiums can also leverage a video management system (VMS) to survey an issue as it unfolds. This would allow for better direction from operations teams to security staff deployed to handle the problem. A VMS solution, such as Milestone Systems, provides real-time visual verification that includes recorded video footage for incident evaluation. In the event of an emergency or serious situation, operations teams can open video feeds for enhanced situational awareness. Users can also customize views of their VMS by using Live Earth’s video wall feature. This feature allows users to create customized panes of four or more video feeds, making it easy to move between different vantage points in the stadium.

Congestion around stadiums can cause serious delays and be a major point of frustration for fans. One major integration that would benefit stadium operations teams is the ability to see traffic and parking updates. Our Partner INRIX provides real-time traffic and parking data to improve urban mobility. With traffic data visualized on a single screen, operations teams could better understand changes in congestion, visualize the best way to reroute traffic, and ensure that vehicles are directed only to the parking locations that have open capacity. The ability to make real-time changes to alleviate congestion and strain would reduce fan frustration and enhance the overall experience.

Weather is a constant concern for operations teams. Dedicated fans are known to be present, even in the most inclement weather situations. Live Earth offers a World Class Weather Package by combining weather technologies such as IBM Weather, Fathym (Weather Cloud), USGS flood sensors, lightning, and Earth Networks. This solution provides precise, comprehensive, hyperlocal weather updates designed to help operations teams better understand the movement of a storm, its size, and the potential impact if could have on the stadium.

While games still go on in rain, sleet, and snow, there are stricter rules when it comes to lightning. Executive staff take the threat of lightning very seriously, and when a storm approaches, they are on high alert to determine the distance of a strike from the stadium. On the Live Earth platform, the shapes feature allows users to create shapes to use as buffers from the center point of the stadium. Operations teams concerned about lightning can create buffers with increasing distances outward from the stadium. These buffers can then be used to generate alerts, which are real-time notifications that send automatically when an event is triggered.

By using the shapes feature in the platform in tandem with the alerts feature, executive staff can receive notifications in real-time if lightning strikes within a certain radius. These features would help teams effectively monitor the distance of a strike and make the proper call to stop a game each, which eliminates uncertainty and ensures fan safety.

Key Takeaways: A Consolidated View Streamlines Operations to Improve Fan Experience and Safety

When game day arrives, fans are filled with excitement and energy to go and support their teams. Ultimately, executive staff want to provide their fans with the best experience possible and make the day memorable. During events, operations teams must manage volumes of data and monitor activity in and around the venue to ensure the highest level of security.

Stadiums can adopt a real-time IoT visualization platform that integrates with their existing systems. By doing so, they can improve situational awareness and bypass the need for costly technology overhauls. The extensibility of the platform ensures that as stadiums grow and adopt new technology to improve their daily efforts they can easily tie these systems into their common operational picture. A holistic picture offers rich context that executive staff can use to improve team communication, streamline operations, limit costs, and provide fans with the greatest possible experience.

For centuries, people have united with one another to support their favorite team, discuss their favorite games, remember their favorite players. Every person remembers the first time they stood at a game and belted out, “Take me out to the ballgame,” with a chorus of thousands alongside them. Every person remembers the excitement and energy from seeing their favorite team play. Sports is more than just a game; attending games is an enduring tradition that has connected generation after generation.

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