The technology company is providing real-time information on individual riders for the first time in the history of professional cycling.
The data is being collected through the use of live trackers under the saddle of each rider. The data is then processed and analysed and made available to cycling fans, commentators, broadcasters and the media.
Fans around the world are now able to follow all riders in real-time, and be able to track the speed at which each cyclist is riding, exactly where the rider is positioned in the race in relation to other cyclists, and the distance between each rider – all via a beta live tracking website.
“What we are doing has not been done before,” says Phil Goodwin, general manager, marketing, Dimension Data New Zealand. “It is not so much that the information on the riders have not been available in the past. It is the fact that it is available in real-time so a spectator can follow the event on a smartphone or tablet.”
It is estimated the 198 riders in 22 teams will generate 42,000 geospatial points and 75 million GPS readings. In addition, the live tracking website is built to support 17 million viewers and 2000 page requests per second.
Data on riders will be processed in Dimension Data’s cloud platform across five continents consuming over 350 000 000 CPU cycles per second.
Goodwin explains this is the first year of a five-year contract to use Dimension Data technology for the race.
He says the project involves at least three technology areas – mobility, big data and analytics and cloud.
Mobility is covered when collecting data from the cyclists while they are on the move and presenting the resulting data out to mobile spectators via phones and tablets, he states.
Big data and analytics are applied to the massive volume of data being processed during the race in order to provide a real-time view of the riders. Goodwin says this use of real-time data can be applied across a range of businesses. Retail transaction data, for instance, can enable marketing campaigns to be adjusted in real-time.
All of the things that we are applying here in terms of technology are impacting every business
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Leveraging the cloud is also demonstrated during the race, he says. “We are using a datacentre truck that moves each day with the tour, then using the Dimension Data cloud to provide enormous processing capacity to turn the raw data into useful analytics.
“I would say all of the things that we are applying here in terms of technology are impacting every business,” says Goodwin. “We will be distilling lessons learned and of course how can these be applied to other businesses."
Jeremy Ord, executive chairman of Dimension Data, says until now, it was hard to understand was happening outside of what could be shown on the live television coverage.
“The ability to follow riders, get accurate information about which riders are in a group, and see real time speed are just some of the innovations that will be realised through this solution. During the duration of the three-week race, we’ll be rolling out a range of new capabilities, including a beta live tracking website,” says Ord.
Ord says the technology was tested during the Critérium du Dauphiné race held in France from 7 to 14 June. “We analysed one cyclist cycling at an astounding 104 kilometres per hour. This type of data has not been available in the past.”
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