CISCOLive: Etihad Stadium tour

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I was subject to an embargo on the first session of CISCO Live, but now the announcement has been made, I’m allowed to discuss what the press corps did on Day 1.

So the first session for the press corps at Cisco Live was a tour of Etihad Stadium with its newly completed connected stadium architecture. (Not really Internet of Things but interesting to see a large network in situ, nonetheless.)

The connected stadium concept is, of course, not new. Dozens of stadia around the world have customer wi-fi and venue screens that can enable sharing of information specific to customer position, as well as delivering multiple views of the action on the ground in accordance with team support zones, and so on. But it is new to Etihad and the CISCO and Telstra infrastructure is certainly impressive. It’s easy enough for consumers to log on to the wi-fi network (so long as you give up your name and email address), and use this as your communication platform at the ground for photos, video and text-based chronicling. And the speed isn’t bad (you can see my speed test results below). At least, this is the speed I achieved when I was there on a non-game day. I’d be interested to see if this speed holds up when 50,000 people are cramming the venue, all uploading game or event video simultaneously.

The Connected Stadium at Etihad

One of the many wi-fi spots, connected to a screen at Etihad.

Speedtest

Speedtest on the wi-fi at Etihad stadium on 17 March 2015.

But while the 700 screens and regular wi-fi connection points are clearly great kit, and while I would certainly use this connectivity if I were visiting the venue, I was mostly struck by the great expanses of time that this infrastructure is not being used at the stadium. I’m not talking about game days and event days – the ground has already identified that 1 in 3 or 4 visitors to the ground will use the wi-fi network, for instance – it’s during the non-game and event time that I saw this infrastructure effectively going to waste. I sat there, glorying in all this great kit, and thought about all the small businesses and startups out there who would love to spread out around the various rooms and spaces at the stadium during the day, and work.

CARhsuGVIAECYzcThe CEO of Etihad Stadium said that the connected stadium strategy was designed to engage with fans and get them to return to the stadium. I can imagine that membership of an Etihad stadium co-working space would be one heck of a way to get people to visit the stadium. I suspect that the reason why this hasn’t been pursued so far is that management feel it’s not worth the staff overheads to open these spaces to small operators, but for a co-working space you wouldn’t need caterers or cleaners as such. You’d just need to give access during non-event days to itinerant small business owners and workers for a regular fee – monthly, or on a casual basis. It would need to be cheap enough to attract access, but at (say) $25 a day or $200 a month, the sparse resources at Etihad could attract hundreds of small business workers who would be happy enough to work while the space is available, and either attend a game when their day is done, or head home.

Of course I understand the investment in the connected stadia infrastructure is designed for attendees of games and mainstream conferences at the venue. But given it’s already there, and is unused for significant portions of every day, it just seems logical to open the space up to other users. The more luxurious corporate event spaces can be separatedĀ for conferences, but there are so many fairly basic spaces that are largely unused outside game events. And they could so easily be used as an additional revenue raising measure for the ground. This is a classic case for collaborative consumption; I do hope that organisations like Etihad may consider more creative ways to improve their infrastructure efficiency and productivity along these lines.

All in all, an instructive first session at CISCO Live, but also one where the opportunities for facilitating collaboration were everywhere.

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