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THE WORLD CUP IS NOT THE ONLY REASON FOR USING HIGH-END ICT

TECHNICAL & PRACTICE

In the latest in our series of articles by Gardiner & Theobald on the issues of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in building design, we look at ICT for stadia.

It is safe to say that the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) achieved its mission statement as voiced by organisation committee team vice-president Fedor Radmann to create a 'cheerful, relaxed and friendly FIFA World Cup' in Germany this summer. Of course, this success was not only dependent on England's or any other team's performance, but also on the performance of numerous official parties engaged by FIFA. Stadium staff had to manage large numbers of supporters, public services needed to ensure safety, and the media fed the event to the world. Each party depended on the stadium's infrastructure and performance.

A catalogue of requirements listed in FIFA's documentation, 'Stadium 2006', was the basis for selecting the 12 World Cup stadia in Germany. The requirements included a minimum capacity of 40,000 for pre semi-final games, media facilities capable of hosting 200-300 positions, and a specified level of ICT across all the stadia. The selection process is certainly stringent.

The World Cup is not the only reason for the adoption of high-end ICT. Derby County Football Club recently installed a state-of-the-art sound system which acts not only as an essential safety system for supporters, players and staff, but also enables additional commercial opportunities for music concerts, with an on-pitch capacity of 8,000.

Derby County's advanced sound-system technology relies on the installation of an IP (Internet Protocol) network infrastructure in the stadium.

An IP network installation is used to transfer large amounts of multimedia data simultaneously. Many stadium applications can benefit from transferring this type of data. At Derby County the IP network transfers packets of high-quality sound data to strategically positioned speakers.

HIGH-DEFINITION TELEVISION Arsenal FC's new Emirates Stadium will be fully equipped with High-Definition Television (HDTV) capabilities, with over 400 high-definition digital television screens of various sizes. Information will stream from the high-definition camera across the stadium's IP network to outside broadcast and internal HDTV screens.

Lighting considerations arise from the adoption of new camera technology. There is still some confusion as to whether the new cameras need more light to handle additional HDTV frames, or less light as camera technology improves.

While lighting is important for the broadcasting industry, the selection of the physical units and projected lighting must take into account the impact of their aesthetics and performance on the stadium's supporters and players.

SECURITY SURVEILLANCE An IP CCTV camera can control, receive and store images over the stadium's IP network. Lansdowne Road Stadium has appreciated how important this is, stating in its publicity brochures that its new stadium has installed a 'hi-tech communications nerve centre to allow for continuous monitoring of all aspects of the stadium, both inside and outside the ground'.

TICKET INFORMATION Manchester City football club was the first in Europe to install Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) access control at its City of Manchester stadium.

Supporters are able to buy their tickets over the internet, or by telephone. On arrival at the event the supporters' smartcards, which contain their personal data, are held against RFID reader turnstiles. The IP network validates personal details against the ticket purchase.

This system, says the client, resulted in the advantages of both reduced ticket fraud and faster stadium access.

IP TELEPHONE EXCHANGE Voice- and data-converged infrastructure and applications were installed into Frankfurt's new Commerzbank Arena, which was built for the 2006 World Cup. This not only provided internal telephony but also allowed IP communications across the 12 World Cup stadia.

SOUND SPOTS FOR THE BLIND Wireless networks can be installed to broadcast commentary across the supporter areas in a stadium. The blind or partially-sighted can receive this commentary by wireless IP headsets, allowing them to enjoy the event alongside their fellow supporters. The architect should consider other aspects of the stadium that would need consideration if attendance of blind or partially-sighted people increased as a result of the use of sound spots.

DIGITAL CAMERA AND MICROPHONE POSITIONING Players' changing rooms should always be constructed on the west side of the stadium. The reason for this is so that commentators can get quickly from their positions to post-match interviews. During a game the cameras must be on the same side as the commentators so that they reect the commentator's view of the pitch. The camera positions also need to face away from the sun; in the afternoon this is on the west side, facing east. This is the same side as the commentators, the changing rooms and, probably, the bar.

To resolve this type of issue, FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) have formed a working party to study the problems involved in stadia. The group has devised technical recommendations and requirements for the construction or modernisation of football stadia, including advice on designing the parts of a stadium associated with information communication technology. Take, for example, the following description of the main camera:

'Main cameras in the central stand or on the terraces must be situated at the halfway line at the point of intersection between the line to the nearest touchline, forming an angle of 27 to 35° with the horizontal, and that to the centre of the field, forming an angle of 15 to 20° to the horizontal. Goal cameras, one behind each goal, are situated on the longitudinal axis of the pitch, at a height which permits the penalty spot to be seen above the crossbar of the goal. The angle of the line of sight to the horizontal should be between 12 and 15°, and a space of 2 x 3m is required for each camera.'

There are essentially two types of microphone around the stadium. Directional microphones arranged around the pitch pick up sound from the pitch, while spatial microphones record crowd noise. The audio from these microphones is processed to provide high-quality digital sound to accompany the locations of the footage.

Aspects of ICT being used by stadia may become a de facto standard. For example, Manchester City's successful use of RFID tickets may inspire others - or the Government may enforce the standard to reduce crime. Other technologies may benefit individual stadia, such as the opportunities being sought by Derby County. Either way the architect needs to understand the options available to maximise the client's market position and the user's enjoyment of its events.

This is the most recent article in a series by Gardiner & Theobald on ICT in buildings.

Previous articles cover:

introduction to ICT (AJ 16.03.06);

wireless working (AJ 27.04.06);

healthcare buildings (AJ 18.05.06); and education buildings (AJ 15.06.06).

There are online briefings on:

server technology;

wireless technology;

network technology; and data storage.

You can see all these articles, plus a briefing on VoIP (voice over internet protocol), with a detailed price comparison between VoIP and conventional systems, on www. ajplus. co. uk/ICT

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