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Sports venues advance goals, enhance fan experience with data analytics

NTT IndyCar turns the Brickyard into a smart city with analytics 

NTT IndyCar is leveraging analytics, AI, and digital twin in every element of its business, from managing its venues like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), known to fans as the Brickyard, to providing fans with real-time insights into the decisions made by teams midrace. 

NTT IndyCar has deployed NTT’s Smart Venue solution at IMS. The app takes its cues from efforts made to create smart cities, treating the venue, which draws upwards of 350,000 fans on race day, as a mini city. 

“We’re thinking about it more like the idea of mobilizing and planning to operate a city for a day, everything from moving people around to serving them through emergency services and being able to see around corners where we might want to dispatch someone even before an incident has occurred,” says SJ Luedtke, vice president of marketing at IndyCar. 

Smart Venue’s AI provides full visibility of the venue, with data calibrated every 30 seconds at greater than 90% accuracy. AI-enabled optical detection technologies, combined with real-time entry gate flow rate data, allow the organization to monitor crowds and traffic and generate insights about congestion at specific gates and tunnels using predictive analytics. 

“On a given race day, it is the second-largest city in Indiana,” says Bennett Indart, vice president of SMART World Solutions at NTT. “You can imagine 350,000 people trying to get into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the past several years, we’ve been helping the operations team understand where the bottlenecks are. This year, we’ve actually added a function to provide that to the fans themselves on their mobile device.” 

Luedtke’s advice: Develop close relationships with your stakeholders. She notes that she and CIO Rebecca Ruselink work hand-in-hand. She says their partnership is strong because IT really tries to understand her team’s pain points and to answer their needs rather than just supplying the solution IT thinks would be best.  

“Our teams meet regularly,” Luedtke says. “We have a roadmap of things that we want to accomplish.” 

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