Far from being too cool for school, IoT-connected smart stadiums are improving game day experiences for students while optimizing operations for campus staff. A recent Center for Digital Education (CDE) survey of 138 higher education officials found that even beyond improving overall fan experiences and streamlining operations, Internet of Things (IoT) can make a significant impact in campus safety and security. 

Imagine a student making her way to a game held at her campus stadium. A sensor-enabled parking service could steer her to a space closest to the stadium; a mobile mapping app with location intelligence could point her in the right direction; smart lighting could keep her path well-lit; and ID-card access control could vet student ticket holders and fast-track them into the stadium. If at any point in that journey trouble arose, the student could use a first responder alert system with geolocation assistance to get help fast.

Once in the stadium, video surveillance and geofencing can alert security personnel to potential incidents and trigger video recording to capture potentially suspicious activities. Beacons placed on high-value equipment can track the location of stadium and team assets. Meanwhile, interactive signage and kiosks can help with general wayfinding and push notifications can alert attendees with relevant messaging.

Choosing the Right Partner

To get an idea of what’s possible for campus stadiums, let’s look at one of the most connected stadiums of all. For the technical staff for the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., hosting football games means the stakes are high. For many institutions, it’s difficult to find in-house expertise to manage the digital transformation needed to achieve a truly smart and connected stadium. So U.S. Bank Stadium teamed up with CenturyLink  to create end-to-end solutions for the big game’s megaload of traffic.

While millions of viewers watched a recent kick off being broadcast live, surrounding those within the stadium were roughly 1,300 Wi-Fi access points stashed everywhere from the concession area and ticket booths to behind section numbers and beneath handrails, making it one of the most connected venues on the planet. That connectivity paid off as hundreds of thousands tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook status updates flew across smart devices within the arena in rapid-fire succession from fans and global media outlets alike. In addition, 2,400 HD TVs each capable of relaying different messages, were scattered across the stadium and broadcasting information in real time. The result was state-of-the-art connectivity that accommodated up to 66,000 fans and the overflow of media outlets accessing the internet simultaneously.

We all know the excitement surrounding many college and university games, and that today’s students expect their campus stadiums to be more connected than ever before. For campus IT professionals, the always-on connectivity that fans and students demand might seem overwhelming in the face of tremendous digital transformation. One way to make sense of it all is to explore CenturyLink smart solutions for smart hospitality, which includes detailed cost analysis and comparison documentation of current and proposed optimization, enabling the most informed decision for campus stadium support needs.

Get Into the Game with CenturyLink

We are by no means new to the game when it comes to providing professional IT services for large-scale college and university sporting and entertainment venues and events. When Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) needed to bring free public Wi-Fi to their sports arena, they turned to CenturyLink. We’re proud to team up with MECA and their anchor tenant: the men’s basketball program, the Bluejays from Creighton University.

In the early days, sports and entertainment venues like MECA only had to support a handful of smart devices, but those days have long since passed. Today, MECA boasts 30,000 attendees at events — and multiple smart devices to go with each of them, not to mention those found within the building’s infrastructure and on the playing field. It was clear that if the stadium was going to stay in the game it needed to start by leverage new technologies, including offering free arena-wide Wi-Fi. This past year, in partnership with CenturyLink, MECA launched a smart solution that drives end-to-end fan experiences for its large entertainment events.

CenturyLink is instrumental in helping some of the world’s largest sports arenas and campuses forecast and look at what they’re going to need in 2020, so that stadiums can scale out for future technologies and even larger events. We’ve been optimizing IT environments for customers like MECA through consolidation, virtualization and modernization with leading technology over the past 12 years.

Smart Campus Stadiums: How CenturyLink Can Help

CenturyLink provides the full spectrum of services around smart solutions for campus stadiums. We have a global team of dedicated IT Services professionals who provide end-to-end smart solution capabilities and flexible tools and service offerings that can be customized to meet your smart campus stadium needs. As you know, today’s connected campuses are always on and so are our 24×7 monitoring and 24×7 service desk with rapid response capabilities. From detailed metrics and dashboards to real-time views of applications and infrastructure status, we’re uniquely positioned to support your smart campus stadium needs and help you win big with digital transformation. For more information on how CenturyLink can move your smart campus stadium forward, contact us today!

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