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Headingley set to lead Europe on the use of smart technology

— 12 April 2017

As part of a major European research initiative, Headingley Carnegie Stadium (HCS) has been chosen to trial new technology aimed to further improve the safety, security and match day experience of its users – both inside and outside the ground.

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rugby, together with Leeds Beckett University, have been granted match funding under the EU HORIZON 2020 Framework to participate in the Leeds based project. Over the next three years, experts from the Clubs will collaborate to help demonstrate how cities can use the Internet of Things to deal with sound, noise, security challenges and customer experiences at big open-air events – for the benefit of their fans and visitors.

Imagine a HCS mobile app, allowing people to interact with each other, providing real time communication, informing visitors of the best place to park, the bars with the shortest queue, or guiding them to the nearest exit in case of an emergency. This is just one of several applications which engagement with the Project will enable HCS to develop and trial in consultation with end users and other stakeholders, such as G4S and Leeds City Council.

As the only sports pilot site, the Stadium is in a unique position to take a lead in the use of new technology to build on its strong safety and security record. Ultimately it is the visitors to the Stadium who are the focus for the Clubs, and the main outcome is to enhance still further the customer experience.

The Project, known as MONICA, (which stands for Management of Networked IoT Wearables – Very Large Scale Demonstration of Cultural and Security Applications), is the largest of its kind in Europe with 29 partners form 9 countries and worth 15 million Euros. The technology partners within MONICA will provide a range of smart IoT applications to trial at the six major European city sites, involving more than 100.000 users in total. As well as Leeds, the other pilot cities are Copenhagen, Bonn, Hamburg, Lyon and Torino. The events include concerts, festivals, street and sporting events, and involve the use of multiple, wearable, mobile and fixed devices with sensors, such as wristbands, smart glasses, video cameras, loudspeakers, drones and mobile phones.

In order to ensure the visitor experience remains the focus within increased safety and security measures, each of the six pilot cities will identify a number of relevant applications that they wish to deploy for their chosen events, based on their current challenges. Whereas some will emphasise control of sound, and others optimise security or service, all pilots will actively involve the end users, engaging more than 100.000 people in the evaluation and innovation process, from fans, authorities, organisers and citizens.

The 29 partners to the project will collaborate to ensure needs and regulations are met in terms of trust, privacy and data security and that the end results are transferable into other arenas. One outcome will be an IoT platform based on open architecture and standards which can be incorporated with existing smart city systems, be replicated to fit other settings or used to develop new smart city applications.

Mark Arthur, Yorkshire County Cricket Club Chief Executive said: “The opportunity to collaborate across Europe on an R & D project of this scale is a first for both Clubs and places the Stadium at the forefront of technological advances in customer safety and enjoyment.

“Given recent events in the UK and across Europe it is timely for such an iconic sporting venue to be involved in such vital research and enables our in-house experts to contribute to the growing knowledge in this area. We hope that the feedback we provide from our pilots shapes future developments in the use of technology in stadium management.”