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Sports Applications Technology

US Open Using IBM Technology to Deliver up to the Minute Data

August 29, 2014


If there is one thing the emergence of big data has pointed out is information can be collected from everywhere, and analyzed to provide insight. Sports thrive on the smallest data point being analyzed to the umpteenth degree to find ways to improve the performance, and the convergence of sports and big data has got to be sports statistician heaven. This year at the US Open, held in Flushing Meadows, New York,  IBM (News - Alert) and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) are teaming up to give fans a memorable experience, whether they are at Arthur Ashe stadium, on TV or streaming a match on their mobile device.

When IBM and the USTA came together 20 years ago, they didn’t have the technology that is available to them now. Today IBM has at its disposal different innovative solutions which give fans real-time scores, videos, in-depth match analysis and statistics that can be accessed on smartphones, tablets and PC with an interactive experience of the 2014 tournament.

The data IBM provided from last year is impressive: 713,026 people attended the US Open in 2013, 2.9 million hours of live-streaming footage was viewed across and it attracted 413 million page views – 178 million of which came from mobile devices. It is important to remember these numbers were achieved during the tournament, which takes place in a span of two weeks.

IBM, therefore, had to implement a scalable infrastructure that was able to not only anticipate, but also react to spectatorship in real-time, which could fluctuate in the magnitude of millions. The IBM Cloud solution was able to make these calculations by analyzing social networks and leveraging predictive modeling to forecast demand and to scale dynamically.

“If traffic is up, or you've got a player spiking in social and about to go on court, our system is built so that it can automatically ramp up capacity. You never know just how peak our peak will be. And that's where some of the technologies and solutions we put in place really shine,” said John Kent, IBM Technology Manager.

Because the USTA’s digital platforms experience exponential growth during the championship compared to the rest of the year, the IBM Software Defined Storage must manage terabytes of data and scale dynamically during the tournament. The company uses its IBM Watson Foundations (big data and analytics) technologies to forecast Internet traffic to the US Open digital platforms. Capacity is increased or decreased automatically using the IBM Cloud Orchestrator software.

The company also developed the immersive mobile apps for Android (News - Alert) and iOS smart mobile devices which was created by IBM Interactive Experience. It not only provides access through smart mobile devices, but it also delivers an interactive and informative second-screen experience for fans watching the tournament on TV.

“Each year, we work closely with IBM to ensure we're ready to use the most advanced data and analytics technologies available to create a mobile experience that brings our fans the latest and greatest information and insights from the US Open tournament,” said Nicole Jeter West, senior director of Ticketing and Digital Strategy, USTA. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle