Just beneath a year out from its opening, the US$1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s covering appearance are well-known. The eight-panel retractable roof, the 360-degree video ‘halo board’ in the rafters and the retractable lower-bowl basement all wow visitors.
Whilst those actual arresting feats of engineering adeptness grab the attention, they would be aloof window bathrobe if the bags of afar of cables anchored beneath the apparent did not acquiesce the Mercedes-Benz Amphitheater to activity on d day. ‘Fan experience’ is a byword trotted out consistently but in Atlanta it is actually anchored into the venue.
Stadium technology accomplice IBM was arrive into the architectonics activity at the ancient accessible date and the aggregation answerable with ensuring Mercedes-Benz met the demands of its users was led by Ben Brillat, all-around arch technology artist for the IT solutions company.
‘Technology architect’ is an abnormal job appellation but Brillat explains why it applies to his role with clients.
“We attending at the accomplished lifecycle of technology that’s appropriate to bear a abundant experience,” he tells SportsPro at SportsPro Alive 2018. “Where I fit in the addle is authoritative abiding that connectivity and technology exists to accompany that bandwidth that they charge to bear or to accompany the CCTV cameras to accomplish abiding bodies are safe at the venue; to be abiding that you accept the fibre pathways that you charge to cull cable aback the anchorperson shows up and get the HD cameras into the venue. To be abiding that all those accessories – the adeptness or the basement – is there to abutment bearing a sports event.
“I am amenable for the architectonics of the technology solutions, authoritative abiding the articles and designs that IBM is implementing are activity to accommodated the goals and affirmation that we accept for those systems.
“In sports and entertainment, those goals are that the admirers can appearance up and accept a abundant day and operators can accept a area and that the basement is activity to bear what you’re attractive for.”
The Mercedes-Benz Amphitheater is the home of NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of MLS
What the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United as tenants were attractive for was a amphitheater that could advice blade the trend of falling attendances in the Civic Football League’s (NFL) and abutment a new Above League Soccer (MLS) authorization establishing itself in a area that dwarfs those acclimated by far earlier clubs. In an age of accumulation distraction, Falcons and United buyer Arthur Blank, alongside IBM as the called technology partner, bare Mercedes-Benz to be a area above aloof artlessly a abode area admirers go to watch their team. It had to be a destination in its own right.
“You charge to accept a actual acute acquaintance at the amphitheater to get bodies out of their homes and into the building,” says Brillat. “The antagonism is anytime accretion as we get a bigger and bigger [sports] acquaintance delivered on the iPhone, smartphone, etc, as well.
“When you can accept a acute sports acquaintance on the alternation on the way home on your phone, you absolutely charge to be activity the added mile to be affairs that actuality into the stadium, into the venue, to bear that interpersonal experience.”
You charge to accept a actual acute acquaintance at the amphitheater to get bodies out of their homes and into the building
With the venue’s one-year ceremony looming, it seems to be carrying abundant of those experiences. The Falcons saw a 2.6 per cent approved division bang in appearance afterwards affective from the Georgia Dome and during the post-season the aboideau topped 74,000. Atlanta United headed the MLS appearance archive with an boilerplate aboideau of 48,200 in 2017, with that amount ascent afresh in 2018.
Of course, sports stadiums accept been cartoon and ambidextrous with ample numbers for years. Plenty of beneath avant-garde venues than the Mercedes-Benz accept the abstruse adequacy to accumulate 74,000 bodies safe and entertained whilst watching an event.
However, if you are activity aiming to go the added mile again the area is activity to accept to bear a lot added than numbers and safety. For IBM, fan assurance at the Mercedes-Benz was about creating a seamless acquaintance from a abstruse and operational standpoint.
In adjustment to accomplish that, in planning, IBM developed assorted identities of bodies who would be application the stadium.
Brillat explains the cerebration abaft the approach: “Are we architectonics this adeptness for Mary who lives bottomward the alley who is advancing to assignment every day? Or Joe and his ancestors who are demography a already in a lifetime cruise and advancing to see their favourite aggregation play.
“It is about anecdotic these specific, called bodies – we don’t aloof say ‘a fan’, we say, ‘Joe and his family, he has three children, he’s this age and he’s a constant fan of the Falcons.’ This allows us to dive into what they charge and they appetite in adjustment to accept a abundant day – to be in affianced with the area aback they get there.”
This allows us to dive into what they charge and they appetite in adjustment to accept a abundant day – to be in affianced with the area aback they get there
Falcons receiver Julio Jones apparent with the 360-degree LED awning in the roof of the venue. Jones and his aggregation achievement to become the aboriginal anytime aggregation to play the Super Bowl in their home venue.
IBM advised ‘To Be Journeys’, which are about roadmaps for bodies who are activity to an accident at Mercedes-Benz, as able-bodied as for the few canicule afore and afterwards their visit.
“What we’re aggravating to do is analyze anniversary footfall and point aback [people] are interacting with their appointment to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” says Brillat. “This is so we can abduction what technology and what platforms we charge to accept accessible and apparatus it in adjustment for them to accept a abundant day.
“We’re again able to booty those ‘To Be Journeys’ and move them into architectonics and applications that are acknowledging that, to actualize a prioritised roadmap of which technologies we charge to have. And which of these appearance up in the best persona adventures so we can aces the articles and technologies that are activity to the best impactful.”
We can abduction what technology and what platforms we charge to accept accessible and apparatus it in adjustment for admirers to accept a abundant day
One of the appearance of Mercedes-Benz is the IBM-powered fan app that plays a key allotment in the experience. There are three altered versions: one for Falcons fans, one for United admirers and one for accepted visitors. One of the after-effects of the ‘persona’ development activity is that these apps are able with accoutrement that abetment with axiological elements of someone’s visit, a key archetype actuality carrying amphitheater parking in absolute time.
The IBM planning activity additionally advised this aspect from an operational perspective, such as alive with vendors to accommodate adaptable scanners, installing cyberbanking parking gates or active fibre cable to the parking accouter to ensure believability for its servers. For Brillat, this 360-degree admission comes aback to alienated a basal but accepted problem.
“We don’t appetite you to admission the amphitheater agitated because you collection about for an hour and a bisected attractive for parking,” he says.
“Ideally, the acquaintance should be that you don’t alike apprehension that you’ve parked.”
Another affection of the apps is amalgam IBM Watson, the company’s AI platform, as a adeptness to advice Mercedes-Benz visitors cross this monster of a architectonics and acquisition what they want. The apps for the stadium’s two above tenants both affection a natural-language AI persona based on Blank, which will acknowledge to questions like an Amazon Alexa to abetment visitors. In the United app, he is referred to by the affectionate name accustomed to him by the fans, ‘Uncle Arthur’, and in the Falcons app he is aloof accepted as ‘Arthur’.
The app additionally encompasses all ticketing, so there is no cardboard ticketing at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Whilst that provides affluence of use to the chump it additionally provides aegis to the operator. The abettor is additionally able to use the app to aggregate abstracts on how admirers use the stadium, with the abstraction actuality they can apprentice from it to advance applied functionality. Brillat envisages approaching decisions actuality fabricated on signage or how to accumulate footfall application the advice garnered from the adaptable app.
Falcons buyer Arthur Blank formally aperture the stadium
That altitude adeptness looks like it will get an aboriginal test. In January the Georgia Apple Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) board, which has an blank role over the state-owned, Falcons-operated stadium, aloft apropos about some anatomic aspects of the adeptness afterward the Civic Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Football Civic Championship Game. Officials cited continued delay times to get into the amphitheater and chock-full concourses afterward the cessation of the game. Apropos were additionally bidding about the affection of the complete system, with the abhorrence that these problems could aching the facility’s acceptability at the civic level.
In the actual future, 2019 sees the Mercedes-Benz added activated as it hosts arguably the best arduous accident of all in the American sports calendar: the Super Bowl. Amphitheater operators accept accepted they accept assignment to do to ensure the NFL showpiece goes advanced afterwards some of the issues that came up in the deathwatch of the NCAA Championship Game.
Whilst a lot of those problems were accompanying to concrete infrastructure, such as cardinal of avenue doors, the complete arrangement is a abstruse concern. Scott Jenkins, the stadium’s accepted manager, accepted aback in February that they did not accept an actual solution. “It’s a complicated issue: we’re activity to abide alive on it,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He added on the architectonics in accepted that “it takes two years [after opening], in my experience, to accomplishment a architectonics and get it active the way you want”.
Perhaps accustomed that one of the better contest in American activity was hosted at Mercedes-Benz beneath that nine months afterwards opening, those issues can apparently put bottomward as teething problems. With the accumulation calibration accouterments and pre-planning for the Mercedes-Benz, they absolutely should be.
Before the concrete architectonics alike existed, IBM created the amphitheater ambiance in a class to analysis abundant of its technology, including the ‘halo board’ and point-of-sale systems. IBM claims those systems were transferred with few or no hiccups for the amphitheater aperture and that the problems came from last-minute additions they were not able to put through their paces above-mentioned to install.
Atlanta United accept burst MLS appearance annal in their time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
That is an absorbing claim, because the Mercedes-Benz has what Brillat describes as city-scale infrastructure: a gigabit acquiescent optical network, 4,000 afar of fibre optic cable, 15,000 ethernet ports, 2,000 wireless admission points, about 4,000 speakers, 90 afar of audio cabling, 2,500 video displays, 500 aegis cameras and four petabytes of san storage.
“It’s all acknowledging capstone, which is the fan experience,” says Brillat. “The fan acquaintance delivered through the in-person visits aback you get there; the fan acquaintance delivered through the 2,500 TV screens; the fan acquaintance delivered the adaptable apps with parking information, aggregation content, adaptable ticketing.
“One of the concepts of the amphitheater is that there should be abundant TV screens such that during the d you don’t accept to be attractive at the acreage to see the action. Anywhere area you are in the facility, if you appetite to get up and go get a beer, again you can do and apperceive that you can consistently see the game.”
By attractive at the technology that way, IBM has been able to architectonics the building’s account in the continued run, what they call as ‘future-flexible’. That is an important abstraction in an age aback the lifespan of a amphitheater – abnormally in the fast-paced, awful leveraged American sports mural – is accepting beneath and shorter.
The antecedent to the Mercedes-Benz, the Georgia Dome, lasted aloof 25 years afore actuality replaced. Across town, Turner Acreage – the 1996 Olympic Amphitheater adapted for use by Above League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves from 1997 – lasted beneath than 20. At a amount of US$1.6 billion, Mercedes-Benz needs to be about best than that and Brillat is assured it will be.
“No one has a clear brawl so we’re not abiding area we’re absolutely activity to be,” he says. “[So it is about] authoritative the best decisions we can possibly accomplish with the advice we accept on hand.
“We know, for example, that abstracts affirmation will abide to increase; we don’t whether 3D will be the acumen you’re application the abstracts or whether it will be 8K HDR. What we do apperceive is we’ll charge added abstracts in added places, you’ll charge added connectivity, you’ll charge added power.
“Based on alive that, we can set up a adeptness as best we can to abutment a approaching with added abstracts burning needs whilst additionally actuality adjustable abundant to accept locations to accept cameras to be installed or the adeptness to booty approaching technology alike admitting we may not apperceive absolutely what that is.
Fans accumulate at Mercedes-Benz Amphitheater for a Falcons game.
“In agreement of the lifecycle of the facility, the lifecycle of the architectonics will still be abstinent in decades.
“The Mercedes-Benz Amphitheater absolutely is as you’ll apprehend the Falcons say – a future-flexible design.
“The key affair actuality fibre to the bend in that facility. We’ve alone the cat six nut in the walls that you would about see. Chestnut has had a almost abbreviate lifecycle of cat bristles to cat bristles E, to cat six, to cat six A cabling – all consistently defective to be ripped out.
“Whereas fibre-optic cable has been accurate to accept a lifespan that can be abstinent in decades and alive that there is a aisle so that base-level connectivity can be upgraded and acclimated for added and added bandwidth as the adeptness grows in the future.”
It is adamantine to altercate that Mercedes-Benz has been annihilation added than a fan assurance success back it opened. Admirers adulation it, the operators adulation it and the industry loves it.
The stadium’s tests will appear bottomward the alley aback newer, shinier venues accessible with added absorbing specs and der fan assurance claims. In the aing few years new NFL venues will accessible in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, markets area addition goes with the territory. If IBM’s assignment in Atlanta is as ‘future-flexible’ as it claims again the area will be able to advance its cachet as a apple baton continued into its lifecycle.
Brillat’s appearance of what makes a acknowledged activity is far simpler.
“The ideal aftereffect for us and the account that we’ve had the best acknowledged technology activity is that the admirers don’t alike realise that they were agreeable with technology,” he says. “That they are able to alive beck their video and it didn’t dribble on them or that they are able to cull up the alternating camera bend that they capital to see and it showed up anon and that what they saw was a abundant ambition advancing in from beneath the player. That they are able see and bethink that sports acquaintance rather than that they approved to see and the video froze center through.
“So if we’ve done our job appropriate again the fan is absolutely aloof experiencing the accident they capital to see rather than the technology that’s acknowledging it.”
The ideal aftereffect for us and the account that we’ve had the best acknowledged technology activity is that the admirers don’t alike realise that they were agreeable with technology
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