IBM – Atlanta Stadium: “A Unique And Differentiated Experience”

Rich Esposito, the articulate General Manager, GTS Mobility Services at IBM, explained to us that their project for the new (opening in 2017) Atlanta football stadium was guided by the owners’ vision “to create a unique and differentiated experience” for fans.

A traditionalist may be pardoned for thinking that the attendee is there “to watch the game…period!” But IBM has stated that, “A live event is no longer sitting in a seat watching a game or concert, but a convergence of the physical and digital…”

The examples of this physical/digital convergence, as illustrated to us by Esposito, consist largely of a number of amenities for the attendee, some quite basic, even mundane: E.g., being able to order food from one’s seat and avoid a long line; getting players’ stats on your mobile; access to instant replays.

IBM’s challenge was to design the technologies and platforms to enable a wide range of functionality for the fan, and include, as well, sophisticated security and operational features for the stadium management.

Esposito points out that this task involves “mobile, cloud, analytics and security.” IBM brings to the effort an array of assets that has written about previously, (“IBM – Watson: Emerging As A Mobile Cloud Player” 3/25/14) including its Watson cognitive computing engine, SofLayer cloud capabilities and others.

The stadium tech platform that IBM has designed includes: WiFi, a fiber core PON (passive optical network), a DAS (distributed antenna system), digital signage, beacons or other GPS location-based devices. Partners for providing these elements have not yet been selected by IBM.

There will be numerous features for the operations staff to better monitor the various systems in the facility. The physical security will include cameras, managed doors, and video intercom systems. IBM will provide intelligent video analytics, including rich context indexing and advanced search. Esposito states that this will enable near-realtime identification of any potential security incidents and near-realtime alerts.

The facility is run by AMB Sports & Entertainment Group, comprised of the Falcons football club, a future soccer team and a consortium, The Atlanta New Stadium Project.