2016 Tour De France Keeps Viewers Informed With Big Data Analytics Upgrade

Dimension Data is upgrading the data analytics platform supplied to the organisers of the Tour de France, claiming fans will receive much more accurate information and insight into the world’s most famous cycle race than last year.

The Tour is a gruelling 3,535km epic across the country, which not only makes it one of the biggest challenges of stamina and strength in sport but makes it impossible to watch in its entirety.

This makes television, radio and online coverage essential to inform aficionados and to attract new fans who may not be familiar with road racing’s nuances.

Tour de France big data

Dimension Data, which has its own eponymous cycling team, first partnered with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) last year to provide more information for broadcast partners and official channels.

Its big data platform analysed up to six million bits of data every stage and turned it into information that helped contextualise the race, but this year it plans to do even more.

“The enhancements to this year’s solutions means we can tell richer and more enhanced stories as they happen, giving viewers, the media, cycling fans and race commentators deeper insights into some aspects of the sport that weren’t available until now,” said Adam Foster, the company’s head of sports.

“This year, we’re working with a much broader palette, which means access to more meaningful race data, race routes, riders and current weather conditions. What’s exciting this year is the ability to deliver all this information to A.S.O. through a unified digital platform.

“This makes the quality of the data even more valuable for viewer engagement, and speaks directly to a generation of younger viewers who rely on new technologies such as social media and live video to engage with their world.”

Challenging race

Much of the technology trialled is now production ready. The telemetry sensors underneath riders’ seats now have a ten times bigger transmission range meaning data capture is more accurate and the connection far more reliable.

The data captured from 198 riders across 22 teams allows commentators and the official ‘Race Center’ to gain information about speed, distance, composition of the pletons, wind speed, direction and weather. The Race Center itself is hosted on the Dimension Data cloud and delivers images, videos and social media information alongside this live data feed.

To facilitate these changes, Dimension Data’s big data truck has been given an upgrade and has been made bigger to accommodate the different graphics and analytics teams that will be housed under one roof for the first time.

“The Tour de France is a flagship event in a modern world, and it’s only natural that we give our viewers access to as much quality content, entertainment and analysis as possible through the media they use every day,” said Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France at the ASO. “Together with Dimension Data we’ve been working on new ways to appeal to our billions of viewers, and we’re excited to showcase the result of our efforts through Race Center.

“I believe the appeal of having access to multiple real-time video, social media and live race information from one responsive and intuitive interface will greatly enhance the quality of coverage of the Tour de France, and become an essential companion to the largest live televised event in the world.”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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