Fans will have more data when they need it thanks to a ‘Digital Twin’ of the Tour de France route.
With the Tour de France 2021 beginning this weekend, it appears that this year’s race will be the most interactive yet, due to a bunch of new experiences and services aimed at bringing fans (virtually) closer to the action.
The 108th edition of the world’s largest cycling event kicks out this weekend in Brittany, in the north-west of France, with 184 competitors covering 3300 kilometers over the next three weeks.
After a year of in-person action, and with a global broadcast audience estimated to reach hundreds of millions, this year’s Tour is aiming to use big data like never before to give spectators a whole new perspective on the race.
Data In Real-Time
NTT, the event organizers’ official technology partner since 2015, will once again look to provide broadcasters, digital channels, and fans with a plethora of real-time data on the race.
NTT can offer real-time data on speed and GPS location of each rider in the race every 400 milliseconds thanks to small sensors put beneath the saddle.
This data is sent through a moving mesh network to NTT’s own “Big Data Truck” via gateways on television motorcycles, helicopters, and planes, where it is multiplexed with broadcast footage and sent to NTT’s own “Big Data Truck.”
On the NTT cloud platform, the data is supplemented with 53 computed attributes, such as course gradient, weather data, group calculations, and time gaps, to provide fans and broadcasters with the essential information they need to keep up with the race.
To augment this, NTT has announced that it will create a “digital twin” of the race in 2021, based on IoT sensors, edge compute, and networks, as well as its own platforms, and mapped against a geo-location model of each Tour stage. This will provide for real-time visibility of important locations and assets, as well as COVID-19 contact tracing and real-time caravan and race arrival time updates.
The race, according to the company, is effectively the world’s largest linked arena, despite the fact that it travels around France every day for three weeks, passing through arid alpine scenery in the Alps and Pyrenees.
It claims that by creating a digital twin, it will be able to provide precise visualizations of the race as it happens, as well as improve digital experiences like the ASO’s live Race Center tracker system for fans.
“Every year we have been able to take the technology to the next level, this year we are creating what is essentially a digital twin of the event,” said Peter Gray, Senior Vice President, Advanced Technology Group, Sport at NTT Ltd. “It’s a highly dynamic and changing environment that requires immediate access to information to ensure continuous and smooth operations, resulting in more informed and engaged fans.”
“Technology plays a vital part in helping us innovate at the speed fans expect from their mobile and cloud-based applications, all the while providing event insights, rich analytics and intelligent digital solutions,” continued Yann Le Moenner, Chief Executive, ASO.
“Since 2015, we’ve brought a whole host of digital enhancements to the event to create the best ‘connected fan’ experience. This year is no different, delivering a data-driven experience across any device, wherever you are in the world.”