NEWS ANALYSIS: Super Bowl 50 will take place in the world’s most high-tech stadium in Silicon Valley, the technology capital of the world. Data transmission records will be shattered
Are you ready for it? Super Bowl 50 is going to be epic—not just because of the game, but because of the technology and the volumes of data generated.
The Super Bowl is the nation’s most popular sporting event. This year it will take place in Santa Clara, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley, at the shiny new Levi’s Stadium, which opened in July 2014 and was built at a cost of $1.3bn.
In Silicon Valley a disproportionate number of ticket holders will be people from the tech industry, who tend to have high-end phones that take large-file photos and videos.
They’re more likely to use data-intensive apps, such as live-streaming features on Facebook or in apps like Periscope and Meerkat.
These high-tech attendees are also more likely to use Facebook’s support of Apple’s Live Photos, which animates iPhone photos. From a data perspective, Live Photos double the file size of picture uploads.
I believe attendees of Sunday’s Super Bowl will destroy the record for the most data used at a sports event. My prediction is at least 15 terabytes. This would shatter the current record set during last year’s Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which hit the 6.2 terabyte mark.
Before we get into the incredible infrastructure behind this colossal feat, let’s marvel at the many wonders this stadium is about to become famous for.
Why Levi’s Stadium Reflects Silicon Valley
Levi’s Stadium is expensive, elitist, utopian, green and obsessed with technology and great food. In other words, it’s the perfect expression of Silicon Valley itself.
The most obvious feature of the stadium is a massive, four-story tower of 150 luxury suites on the shady side of the stadium where Silicon Valley’s tech billionaires can hold parties during the game. The stadium also sports 7,500 premium club seats.
And even regular seats are expensive. Levi’s stadium has the highest ticket prices in the National Football League.
Don’t expect to see just the usual hot dogs, nachos and Budweiser. This is Silicon Valley, which is almost as obsessed with great food and drink as it is with technology.
Fans will be able to buy crab fondue, grilled Castroville artichokes, fresh mussels, vegetable samosas and slow-roasted pulled pork as well as dozens of other decidedly non-traditional stadium comestibles.
A tap room on the 50-yard line offers 42 draft beers, including Lagunitas IPA, Speakeasy Prohibition, 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die, Dobis Pale Ale and others. Chardonnay and pinot noir wines, mostly produced in California, will be served throughout the stadium, with another 12 local wines served at specific locations.
Levi’s Stadium is also environmentally friendly. In fact it’s the first in the U.S. to be given Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.
Levi’s Stadium is the first solar powered stadium ever that also has a green roof. The green roof is 27,000 square feet of landscaping made up of 16 species of vegetation native to the area. The green roof supplies insulation, and also grows produce used by the stadium’s restaurants. The greenery accents an awesome reception area that can be rented out for events.
There’s an incredible 1,186 solar panels on the roof and on pedestrian bridges connecting the parking lot to the park. These capture 375kW of power, which provides all the energy the stadium needs.
The public is invited to check out a live dashboard display that shows real-time energy measurements, water and air monitors among other stadium eco-statistics.
Stadium management claims about 85 percent of the water used at the stadium is recycled, mostly for landscaping and toilets.
The stadium extends sustainability to the restaurant menus. The emphasis is on locally- and regionally-sourced ingredients, with about 85 percent of food coming from California and 78 percent from within 150 miles of the stadium. There are even about 32 vegan menu items available at the stadium.
Super Bowl 50 to Showcase Latest Video Cameras
CBS Sports will use 70 cameras to shoot the game, which is up from 40 cameras at last year’s game.
Among these are brand-new, never-before-seen technologies, including the Eye Vision 360 camera with 36 cameras clustered at around the 25-yard line. These are ultra- high-resolution cameras arranged to point in 360 degrees.
CBS says they’ll enable some amazing effects, including 360-degree Matrix-style “bullet time” instant replays. They’ll also make possible an upgrade of the current system of drawing a virtual line on the field. This year we’ll see what looks like a virtual pane of glass showing the line not just on the grass, but extending up to the sky.
This year’s Super Bowl will also see a new pylon camera, which was used at previous games last year, but never before at a Super Bowl. The pylons are the orange markers that bring attention to the four corners of the end zone at the goal line.
Each pylon will now have two HD cameras, as well as microphones. So when a receiver makes a diving catch into the end zone on the edge of the field, he’ll literally be jumping over an HD camera and the microphones will be right there to record the crunching sound as helmets collide. Those pylon camera shots have become important in football because they can show whether leaping ball carriers pushed the pigskin inside the pylon even as they were shoved out of bounds.
An all-new SkyCam system, which rolls on wires suspended above the field, will now travel at up to 25 miles per hour, which is faster than even the fastest player can run.
Why Technology is the Main Event This Year
More than 72,000 people will be inside the stadium during the Super Bowl. But there should be about 100,000 devices connected to the stadium systems before, during and after the game when you include people in the parking lot and near the stadium.
So why am I predicting that fans will use a record-shattering 15 terabytes of data?
For comparison, the stadium’s first-ever Monday Night Football game in September involved a total of 21,155 devices using WiFi during the game, with a peak of 13,462 concurrent users. That’s just WiFi. AT&T alone logged 874 GB on the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) installed at the stadium. A DAS is a group of antennas that replace cell towers in hard-to-access or overly populated spaces.
The current record for WiFi usage at the park wasn’t even a football game. Attendees of WrestleMania XXXI in April of last year used 4.5 terabytes of WiFi data.
But the Super Bowl is different in many respects. People are likely to take more pictures. The importance of the game will bring in people with better phones that take larger-size photos. The stadium has prepared for this enormous data consumption with a massive deployment of resources.
In fact, Levi’s Stadium has an order of magnitude more bandwidth than the NFL mandates.
RootMetrics tested the quality and performance of network access inside the top 31 NFL stadiums, and ranked Levi’s Stadium as no. 1. In fact, it’s the first stadium ever to carry 40 Gbps of Internet capacity.
The stadium has a mind-blowing 400 miles of fiber and copper cable and 1,200 Aruba WiFi access points—a WiFi box for every 100 seats.
AT&T redeployed an all new DAS from JMA Wireless in preparation for the Super Bowl, both inside and outside the stadium, which the mobile carrier claims will provide 150 percent better LTE performance.
Verizon built 91 new cell sites and installed a patented antenna system so lower stadium seats get better coverage. Verizon alone says they’ve put together a special team of 100 technicians and engineers to manage the network in real time for the game. Other carriers will deploy similar teams.
A company called DAS Group Professionals will increase the number of “neutral host” antennas from 250 to 400 and remote units from 330 to 450. These are owned by the stadium but rented out to the carriers.
The stadium has 2,400 Sony TV monitors, 600 security cameras and 370 point-of-sale terminals.
The venue also has a dedicated app, which will be heavily used for the Super Bowl. Fans can use the app to order food and have it delivered to their seats. About 2,000 Bluetooth beacons will interact with the app to give contextual information and directions to users. Best of all, the app will enable fans to watch Super Bowl commercials and instant replays.
And if anyone is confused by the apps, or by the tech features of the stadium, more than 60 tech support people, called “Ninerds,” will roam the stadium to answer questions.
I believe these factors make it a certainty that the Super Bowl will shatter the data-use record for any public event anywhere ever.
There’s going to be a level of sharing, posting, streaming, gaming, video watching, app using, food ordering and video-chatting unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Plus, I hear there’s even going to be a football game!
But if any of this technology fails and interrupts communications or the game broadcast, it’s going to make almost as much news as the final score.
Originally published on eWeek.