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Data in motion - powering sport to split second success

Fred Crehan Profile picture for user Fred Crehan May 24, 2022
Summary:
Fred Crehan of Confluent explains how real-time data is not only being used by F1 teams, but sports events such as the World Cup in Qatar.

Charles Leclerc Formula 1 racing © Michael4Wien - Pixabay
( © Michael4Wien - Pixabay)

Formula1 is about fast cars. Fast drivers. And fast data.

You may not be able to see it speeding around the track, but without access to — and analysis of — vast amounts of information in less time than it takes to slip through a chicane, even the world’s best motor racing teams would be left in the slow lane.

Data – everything from lap times and engine performance to tyre wear and driver fatigue – is used to help teams squeeze an advantage over their rivals. Even small in-race changes, either in terms of engineering adjustments or race tactics, can alter the outcome of a race.

All the data to make that happen is available now. In fact, systems to monitor, extract and bring together such information have been around for years.

But while it’s relatively straightforward to collect race data, then send it to be processed and reviewed later, there is one glaring problem — by then, of course, the race will be over.

Accessing winning data

The hard part isn’t generating race-winning data. It’s gaining access to the information in eye-blinkingly fast real-time – so that race teams can react and make changes while the race is live.

That’s the real challenge.

And it goes without saying, all the compilation, analysis, and transmission of race data must be error free without the slightest slip up. Only then, can accurate data be used as part of a team’s winning strategy.

As one F1 fan pointed out to me recently, even if the data's a minute old, it might be too late. Once the chequered flag’s been waved, it’s time to go home.

These challenges face engineers behind the scenes as they work with their car’s telematics to refine performance.

But the need for speed is also essential in businesses as they look at ways to accelerate their data processing times – not to secure a place on the podium, but to complete a complex online transaction, for example, or weed out a fraudulent cyber-attack. 

Data in motion

That’s why companies – and F1 teams – are turning to software solutions that harness a new approach to information storage and processing called ‘data in motion’.

A modern connected business can't wait for daily batch cycles to analyse and react to data coming from siloed applications and databases, their customers simply wouldn’t tolerate stale data and poorly integrated experiences.

Data in motion takes the computer science underlying traditional databases and turns it on its head. Instead of passively storing data to access periodically, it allows for real-time, always-on, available-now data in any system as it's generated.

That’s why this approach to real-time data flows and processing is important – because it’s essential to underpinning modern digital services such as booking a taxi, shopping, banking – or running an F1 team.

A central nervous system for data

One way of thinking about it is to imagine a central nervous system in a living organism. The nervous system ties together all the independent parts of the body into a coherent whole that can react and respond intelligently in real time.

It is this system that enables the kinds of customer experiences and intelligent operational systems that are increasingly required to compete and win in the world today. It provides the real-time continuous processing needed to react and respond to it “in the moment”.

But it’s not just technology-dependent sports such as motor racing that are benefitting from data in motion.

Players in team sports such as football or rugby wear a GPS tracker under their shirt that monitors their physical performance during a game. By keeping a close eye on key biometrics matched against established fitness levels, coaches on the touchline can work out exactly when a player hits peak performance or begins to tire and needs to be substituted.

And the technology is also being used to manage sports events as well. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be an opportunity for many supporters to unwind, enjoy sports and discover a new country. Behind the scenes however, the complexities of organising an event of such magnitude will require a different set of capabilities and technologies to guarantee the best experience for the 1,5 million anticipated visitors to the Gulf State.

With a pre-World Cup population of just under three million, the increased number of visitors will place new requirements on the country’s infrastructure, security and systems. But the event organisers have planned for this to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

Everything from preventing bottlenecks and overcrowding, stadium security, laying on additional mass transport at busy times, ticketing, ensuring fans have somewhere to stay, ensuring food supply chains remain fully stocked – you name it – is being underpinned by data in motion.

All these things have to be managed in real-time during the tournament. It can’t be left until the final whistle. There is no tie-break or extra time. It needs fast data. It needs data in motion.

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