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Why Mobile Connectivity is now a critical service in stadiums

As stadiums across the world begin to welcome back crowds, clubs are looking to improve the overall experience for fans in a post COVID-19 world.

Mobile connectivity continues to be an increasingly important utility in stadiums, with fans now somewhat expecting the service at the football grounds they visit.

UK company Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) own and operate the nation’s largest selection of indoor mobile networks, serving over 1.25 billion visitors each year.

Working with all UK mobile network operators, WIG have direct experience in designing, installing and operating mobile infrastructure and lead the market in network deployment and management in stadiums and sports venues.

2020 saw the biggest ever growth in the UK for mobile devise usage, with users trying to stay connected whilst offices, businesses and venues were closed due to the pandemic.

These figures are expected to increase again in 2021, with mobile device usage now exceeding time spent watching live TV.

Vijay Sodiwala, Commercial Director at WIG, believes that these increases during the COVID period will impact supporters’ expectations of the matchday experience in stadiums.

“It is inevitable that fan behaviour will have changed significantly in terms of how much they interact with their mobile devices and the quality of connectivity and service they expect as part of their overall stadium experience,” he told fcbusiness.

“Fans will expect dedicated coverage and a high-speed data capability allowing them to access the internet, stream videos, interact on social media, text and make calls to friends and family before, during and after matches.

“They will be less tolerant of a poorer mobile experience, especially in venues that are charging them to attend events.”

Sodiwala explains the best possible way to address poor mobile connectivity in stadiums.

“Outdoor networks (such as masts, towers and rooftop installations) are just not designed to deliver the capacity that is needed when you have stadiums operating at full capacity and it is no longer appropriate to look to the mobile network operators to solve these problems for us,” he said.

“The most efficient solution for enabling properly dimensioned mobile services within a stadium is a distributed digital network approach.

“This is a single network deployed around the stadium that can support all of the mobile network operators and all of their technologies (2G, 3G, 4G and 5G) at the same time. It can also support private network capabilities that stadiums operators and clubs have started to use as a secure, high capacity, flexible and lower-cost alternative to WiFi and traditional wired networks.”

Leading stadium owners and clubs across the UK, including Premier League clubs, have teamed up with WIG to create their own dedicated infrastructure solution.

“Stadium owners and clubs have started to look at investing in their own network infrastructure and partnering with Wireless Infrastructure Group to design, deploy, operate and maintain their stadium networks and provide the interface to the mobile network operators to enable service.”

Sodiwala outlined that because of the rapidly changing behavioural habits of fans, it is an appropriate time for clubs to invest in technology to improve their digital strategic footprint.

“The pandemic has resulted in a seismic shift in consumer behaviour with an increased reliance on mobile devices and adoption of digital technologies,” he said.

“Think of how much our daily interaction has gone digital – from attending meetings to ordering groceries – and stadiums are not exempt. Fans will understandably be relived to return to live events, but their expectations on stadium experience will be markedly different.

“Some of our stadium partners (clubs) have seen the restrictions imposed on us by the pandemic as an opportunity to address this.

“Firstly, to use digital as a more effective way of engaging and connecting with fans through a more immersive and content rich experience. Secondly, clubs are looking at capturing operational efficiencies which have the potential to improve the bottom line – mobile ticketing, in- seat ordering, and mobile payments are the sort of things that come to mind here.

“Underpinning all of this of course is the realisation that high quality mobile service is key to a successful digital strategy.

“A desire to drive fan engagement, improve stadium experience and reduce operational costs certainly feels like a strong response from clubs in a post-pandemic environment. Investing in the right infrastructure approach with the right partner is the first step on that journey.”

More information on the Wireless Infrastructure Group can be found here: https://www.wirelessinfrastructure.co.uk/

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Football Queensland’s QR code solution to continue

Football Queensland has announced the extension of their agreement with EVA Check-In, who provides a QR code attendance tracking solution.

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced the extension of their agreement with EVA Check-In, who provides a QR code attendance tracking solution.

It will remain in place for the upcoming 2021 season of men’s and women’s competitions, with FQ covering the cost of use until stated otherwise.

Attendance tracking is featured in Stage 5 of FQ’s Return to Play guide. With a contactless check-in poster, visitors to clubs can use their smartphones to scan a QR code that saves time on administration and resources. They simply use their camera to capture the QR code and click on a link to register with their name and contact number.

Clubs have their own unique posters available at no cost and should be displayed at entries and exits of a venue to give spectators easy access to check in and out every time they visit.

This allows everyone to match the Queensland Government’s COVID Safe Plans for the sport, recreation and fitness industry – where clubs and venue must be able to complete an Attendance Data form if requested.

The QR technology remains a vital resource for clubs to avoid disruptions and means they can meet COVID Safe requirements related to contact tracing.

It was first supplied to clubs across the state by FQ when the 2020 season was resumed to ensure attendance tracking was completed, to detect any positive cases within the community.

For more information on how the QR code system operates, and for frequently asked questions, you can find them here.

Veo: Recording and analysing football matches with AI-driven cameras

Co-founded in 2015 by Henrik Teisbæk, Veo is a sports technology company with one main aim, to record sporting matches automatically without the need for a camera operator.

To achieve this goal, the company has developed an AI-powered 180-degree camera with two 4K lenses, capturing every single moment of a match in high quality and at 30 frames a second.

Veo has specifically trained the AI to follow the ball during the course of a game, creating a broadcast-like experience for the matches recorded using the software.

The camera ships with a tripod selected by the customer, is able to record up to four hours of footage on a single charge, and weighs less than one kilo, making it a portable option for both home and away matches.

“Veo has been a great asset for us since we purchased it. It allows us to record every game which at this level is brilliant. All around it has been an excellent purchase and something we are really proud to be using,” former senior coach of Brunswick City (now on the Melbourne Victory coaching staff) Riccardo Marchioli said.

One of the important selling points of the product is the analysis work that can be conducted on Veo’s online subscription platform.

Users are offered a 12-month subscription to the platform (at no additional cost) with the purchase of a camera kit, which allows coaches, scouts, players and so forth to review and analyse match recordings using a variety of Veo’s implemented features.

These features include:

  • The ability to consume automatically detected highlights in a match recording through Veo’s AI software, which pinpoints moments such as goals, kick-offs and half-time intervals
  • The ability for coaches to draw on the screen to provide feedback to players through the use of lines, shapes and arrows
  • Players can be tagged in highlights by the coach on Veo’s online platform
  • Coaches can also take over the camera and create their own highlights to share with players in a group or individually
  • Comments can be attached to every highlight, with a choice of which players can see the particular piece of advice or criticism

The online platform has been a successful system for various coaches around the world, including head of football at the City Of London School and U18 Head Coach of Independent Schools for England, Jono Santry.

“Veo has literally transformed our football programme,” he said.

“For years we have been searching for a solution to video matches, tag events, analyse the footage, and share with the staff and players. I had given up on finding a one fits all solution that was both affordable and not reliant upon having staff to film, edit and produce the footage. Veo literally is all this and more.

“We put the camera at the top of the tripod, press record and then plug it in when we return to the office. Veo’s “bots” do the rest and by the time the players wake up the next morning, they have tagged match footage that is excellent quality and follows play. All of this without a human having to control a camera or edit the footage.

“We are using it for other sports with the same precision which means more of our students are gaining the benefit that it clearly brings.”

To date, almost 5000 clubs use Veo in 79 countries across the world, with over 225,000 matches recorded using the product.

Professional clubs who use the service include Manchester City, As Roma, Chelsea, Leicester City FC, Everton FC, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Borussia Monchengladbach, Impact de Montréal, Inter Miami CF, Real Salt Lake, Club Brugge KV and many more.

However, professional clubs who have signed up to Veo only account for 10% of the Danish company’s customer base.

75% of Veo’s customers are either from grassroots or youth clubs across the globe, with schools making up the remainder of the base.

The basic camera setup costs under $2000AUD, with local A-League club Wellington Phoenix utilising Veo’s service, as well as ambitious NPL clubs such as Heidelberg United, who believe the investment is worthwhile to record and analyse their junior sides.

More information on Veo can be viewed here.

MLS chooses Deltatre to be their web technology provider

Deltatre has announced a multi-year agreement where they will be the web technology provider for Major League Soccer (MLS).

Deltatre has announced a multi-year agreement where they will be the web technology provider for Major League Soccer (MLS).

As a leading digital technology company, Deltatre has marked another key milestone in the US market, and highlights their progress and growth in the nation as MLS has selected them as a digital partner. 

Jeff Volk – SVP, Head of Business and Revenue, Americas at Deltatre

This latest agreement will see Deltatre and MLS work on a series of digital products that go towards the competition and clubs.

“Being selected by MLS is testament to Deltatre’s unique ability to provide cutting-edge digital solutions that serve the needs of the most forward-thinking and high-profile sports federations and rights-owners,” Jeff Volk said – SVP, Head of Business and Revenue, Americas at Deltatre.

“This collaboration is another outstanding step for Deltatre, underlining our incredible progress and growth in the U.S.”

They have built an impressive presence in the US, underpinned by their digital offerings to the three largest North American sports leagues – adding MLS alongside Major League Baseball.

The news follows a strong 12 months for Deltatre – last year they completely redesigned and revamped the digital ecosystem of Serie A powerhouse Juventus FC.

“Deltatre shares our commitment to implementing leading technology that enhances and evolves the fan experience,” MLS SVP of Media Chris Schlosser said.

“Their impressive track-record in working with some of the largest sports leagues, allied to its reputation for innovation and delivery, made working together an obvious choice.” 

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