Data Define Daytona Drivers Destiny


Modern Race Cars performance is increasingly dependent on the continuous and rapid collection, interpretation and analysis of very large amounts of data.

A few weeks ago NASCAR teams held their Daytona pre-season thunder to fine tune their new cars. But what does NASCAR evaluate and how do the race car teams get the race car performance data to and from the track to their headquarters?

Car racing today is about outperforming your competitors on very small details. Chassis and engines are similar and 1/100 and 1/1000 of seconds are chased in the detailed tuning of tire pressures, angles, suspension and aerodynamic details. This year, NASCAR is introducing a completely new generation of a car. Understanding how the new car will behave on the track will be critical for success.

As a complement to regular measurements, teams this time used action cameras placed in strategic locations on the cars for filming during testing. Cameras were placed by the side pods, close to the ground, under the floor to capture the rear suspensions, and in the wheel houses to watch tires in action. The films provide high resolution views and details on how the car performs. (Filming is only allowed during testing. During practices and the real race, data is collected from various sensors.)

All data generated from the filming is analyzed after each session. Some data can be analyzed at the track, some needs to be sent to team headquarters for analysis. Most teams use laptops with wireless data cards and rely on the mobile network for transmitting the data. Ericsson sees large spikes in upstream data traffic from the teams immediately after a filming session has been completed. This raises the bar on network performance, its reliability and throughput, so no time is wasted in order for the teams to get their data analyzed.

My predictions for the future: * Telemetry data from race cars will continue to grow quickly and is a good example of how the Big Data movement is affecting racing.

* High Capacity Network access at race tracks will grow in importance, the faster the results can be delivered from the track, the better the teams can prepare their cars.

* With more and more applications moving from PCs into the Cloud the Network becomes ever so critical.

…and just because I like it, here’s the film again!

Sophisticated Stations Serve Scrambling Suburban Settlers

More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, a figure that will grow to as much as 70 percent by 2050, according to our report on the future life in the megacities. This huge surge will bring 630 million people to the 40 largest metropolitan areas by 2025 – and ensuring that there is enough mobile data capacity to cover all bus, subway and train stations will be even more vital than it is today.

A central question in this development of megacities is how the availability of mobile data services will change and support commuters traveling to and from work. The time spent commuting is already very long, and growing cities will not be able to reduce this. So it becomes critical that people can use this time to be productive, and accomplish important private and personal business.

Commuters carry their digital devices everywhere, and their ability to use them along commuting routes is a major need to address. Some use their devices on the bus/train/subway, but most pull out their devices at stations when they transit. The demand for coverage and capacity at stations is now growing quickly, and it is the new data applications driving the demand.

There are very unique business challenges, however, in equipping all stations in a heterogeneous network. There is not an immediate revenue upside but a negative downside from commuter churn if the stations are underserved. But the majority of the Distributed Antenna Systems and Small Cells about to be deployed will be justified through the opportunities for churn reduction and the high value to society. Just imagine the stress on a 21st century professional commuting to and from the city if he or she could not use the time in a constructive way.

My predictions for the future of connectivity at train, metro and bus stations:
• Network coverage and capacity for commuters is vital in enabling projected megacity growth
• Stations will be equipped with powerful 3G/4G/WiFi solutions to serve commuters
• New business models and solutions will change the business case substantially, enabling gains both for commuters and operators
• Failure to meet commuters demand is likely to be a significant driver for churn.

Nascar nights – Not Normal Network Needs

Major sports events are being networked to an ever greater extent. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), for example, provides several tools for fans watching a live event.

Radios, called race scanners, are available so fans can follow the communication between drivers and their crews during a race. The leaderboard is available in your smartphone, so you can stay up-to-date on the drivers’ positions. And recently, Brad Keselowski made history by becoming the first driver to tweet while racing (during a stoppage).

At each race, mobile-network coverage is needed for up to 192,000 fans as well as the teams of the 100 participating cars. In addition to having coverage inside the venue, parking-lot coverage for pre-race tailgating is vital. The network demand at such events is far from normal and requires temporary reinforcement. This requires and add-on network, which is designed as a complement to the existing network.

Ericsson supports race sponsor and US operator Sprint with a managed-network solution for such events.Two teams and two complete equipment setups cover the 38 yearly events on a rotating scheme. For a venue like the Texas Motor Speedway, five Cells on Wheels (COW) are deployed. COWs are mobile cell sites containing antenna towers and electronic radio transceiver equipment on trucks or trailers. The temporary addition is designed with two COW inside the venue with six antenna elements and three outside with three antenna elements each.

I was given the opportunity to visit the Ericsson support team during the race in Texas on April 14, and I was truly amazed by several things:

  • It takes just three days to assemble the temporary network
  • More than 50 transmission links need to be connected
  • The mix of 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi represents a very “dirty” radio environment, calling for careful network design and optimization
  • The data capacity is three-and-a-half times larger than the current data capacity for voice
  • NASCAR does not allow teams to collect any telemetry data beyond fuel injection mapping, and the collected data is published for all to see.

The debate has begun on the role of networks in enhancing the fan experience in sport, and some feel that tweeting is distracting the drivers or athletes. But having gained more than 100,000 new Twitter followers in one day, @keselowski is clearly breaking new ground.

My predictions for the future of networked sports are that:

  1. All major sports arenas will upgrade mobile-data access within three years for capabilities to deliver seamless 3G/4G/Wi-Fi access to the devices of fans and the staff supporting the sport
  2. Online experience at the venue will be an integrated part of live events
  3. Innovations around social media, TV and mobile devices are key in attracting new generations of fans
  4. Spectators will use smartphones and soon bring tablets for replays and special statistics at the venue, as a complement to the jumbo TV screens already in place