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Our final section draws on the expertise of FIBA and its suppliers of Approved Equipment and Software to look to the future and how the development of technology is likely to influence the sport and its venues in the coming years.

 

It focuses on those aspects linked to the action on the field of play. Technological advancements are also happening in other areas of the arena, such as ticketing, security and catering. The continuous evolution of technology is driving the further development of the game and fan experience. However, this means that arenas must become increasingly connected if they are to benefit from and keep up with these developments.

 

Basketball is a stats-driven sport and the demand for player and game data is higher than ever before. This data can be in the form of video content, game statistics or deeper insights generated from coordinates of a player’s location on the court.  The development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has facilitated the automation of much of the data collection and analysis. Fully-automated player tracking systems are now available without the need for human operation. Broadcasters use AI systems to deliver automated and often personalized content. As AI-powered technology develops, we can expect to see the incorporation of automated stats collection and automated officiating support into the elite game.

 

A trend towards personalized game experience for fans in the arena and those watching at home is also underway, providing access to live and personalized data and content. Event organizers are competing with the digital experience, where fans have access to real-time data and game highlights. In the coming years, assisted by the roll-out of 5G, more in-venue connectivity is anticipated. 

 

There are many software-based applications on the market, built to overcome a challenge or to add value. The connection and transfer of data between different technologies is fundamental to optimize the experience for the broad range of stakeholders involved, which include: 

  • players;

  • team coaches and scouts; 

  • officials; 

  • competition organizers;

  • fans;

  • media; and

  • sponsors.

 

New technologies and the optimization of their output, not only enhances the game, but also opens up new revenue streams. For example, the installation of an automated camera system provides the opportunity to live-stream a full-game and/or provide highlight clips.

 

Through the Equipment & Venue Centre, FIBA approves software-based solutions that can meet the needs of these stakeholders and add value to the sport. 

 

In the next part of the guide, we take a closer look at some of these technologies, what they can offer and how this relates to venue design.

 

Automated video and remote production

Automated video systems offer high-quality and real-time video content at a reduced cost compared to traditional broadcast production. Depending on the needs of the user, systems range from high-level, multi-camera installations to single camera 

portable systems. Graphic overlays and automated highlights can be incorporated into the production, ready for live streaming. 

 

Cameras can be mounted to the wall or ceiling. A typical setup would include one camera placed level with the center court line with an unobstructed view of the entire court and a second camera in the same location with an unobstructed view of the scoreboard and shot clock. Typically, a wired internet connection is required with a minimum bandwidth of 15mb/s. For ease of installation, it is desirable to have obstruction-free access to the wall or ceiling location.

 

The following conditions are recommended to generate good image quality: 

  • The camera should be positioned a minimum of 5m off the floor and a minimum of 5m from the sideline.

  • Sufficient lighting should be provided (a minimum of 500 lux).

  • Court markings should be clearly defined and of good contrast.

Typically, cabled connection between the cameras and a server is required. The server shall be located in a secured room within the venue and be provided with power and a hard-wired internet connection. It is recommended that this room is temperature-controlled with a target range of 18-26°C. 

 

Stats collection 

Basketball statistics are consumed by many different stakeholders, including fans, coaching teams and competition organizers. FIBA LiveStats is a software application that supports game statisticians and generates complete basketball statistics in real time. 

 

Distribution of this data is as important as its collection. To distribute the data reliably and with low latency, a steady connection is required (usually ethernet is preferred). Connections for the distribution of statistics data should be physically separate to those provided for other users, however, these do not have to exceed 10Mbps as data-only messages are small. Further guidance can be found in Sub-section 3c.

Through the Equipment & Venue Centre, FIBA approves software-based solutions that can meet the needs of these stakeholders and add value to the sport. 

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In the next part of the guide, we take a closer look at some of these technologies, what they can offer and how this relates to venue design.

 

Automated video and remote production

Automated video systems offer high-quality and real-time video content at a reduced cost compared to traditional broadcast production. Depending on the needs of the user, systems range from high-level, multi-camera installations to single camera 

portable systems. Graphic overlays and automated highlights can be incorporated into the production, ready for live streaming. 

 

Cameras can be mounted to the wall or ceiling. A typical setup would include one camera placed level with the center court line with an unobstructed view of the entire court and a second camera in the same location with an unobstructed view of the scoreboard and shot clock. Typically, a wired internet connection is required with a minimum bandwidth of 15mb/s. For ease of installation, it is desirable to have obstruction-free access to the wall or ceiling location.

 

The following conditions are recommended to generate good image quality: 

  • The camera should be positioned a minimum of 5m off the floor and a minimum of 5m from the sideline.

  • Sufficient lighting should be provided (a minimum of 500 lux).

  • Court markings should be clearly defined and of good contrast.

Typically, cabled connection between the cameras and a server is required. The server shall be located in a secured room within the venue and be provided with power and a hard-wired internet connection. It is recommended that this room is temperature-controlled with a target range of 18-26°C. 

 

Stats collection 

Basketball statistics are consumed by many different stakeholders, including fans, coaching teams and competition organizers. FIBA LiveStats is a software application that supports game statisticians and generates complete basketball statistics in real time. 

 

Distribution of this data is as important as its collection. To distribute the data reliably and with low latency, a steady connection is required (usually ethernet is preferred). Connections for the distribution of statistics data should be physically separate to those provided for other users, however, these do not have to exceed 10Mbps as data-only messages are small. Further guidance can be found in Sub-section 3c.

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Tracking systems

Tracking systems are used to monitor and determine the real-time position and movement of players and game objects. These data points can be captured through camera and/or sensor technology and translated into coordinate data. This data is processed for a wide range of applications such as providing valuable insights into player performance and enhancing the spectator experience by facilitating real-time statistics and visualizations (e.g., as a shot chart, heat map or comparative graphs). These technologies are becoming more precise, and the more advanced solutions apply machine learning to analyze the game in various ways which is highly-relevant for coaches, officials, broadcasters, and the wider media.

 

The coordinate data can be gathered through optical tracking systems and/or wearable devices connected to local positioning systems (LPS). Optical tracking systems are non-invasive to the players and can provide detailed play-by-play breakdowns (e.g., on-ball screens, off-ball screens, ball reversal, handoffs, etc.). Whereas wearable devices can provide physiological data (e.g., impact loads, jump loads, heart rate recoveries, etc.), in addition to positional data.

 

The scope of optical systems can vary according to the desired output. Systems looking to collect basic center of mass positions can operate with as little as four to six cameras (each with a clear line of view of the court), whereas larger implementations (e.g., for officiating calls or fan engagement tools) could see installations of over 30 cameras. Camera systems are typically positioned high in the arena (such as catwalks or attached to ceiling beams) to provide optimal, unobstructed views. However, they could also be placed behind the backboards or at other courtside vantage points. 

 

Wearable devices can operate using a range of technologies such as infrared or RFID. An LPS or centralized system is usually required to aggregate and deliver core data from sensors/other devices placed around the arena. It utilizes a combination of ultra-wideband (UWB) technology and advanced algorithms to deliver highly accurate positioning data. The installation requirements are flexible and offer many options for IT integration, anchor locations/placement and attachment.

 

These tracking solutions seek highly-flexible access to power and, possibly, connectivity with some permanent devices using power over ethernet. Sensors or cameras should be installed in such a way that prevents the general public accessing or interfering with them.

 

Instant replay system

Instant replay systems (IRS) are a valuable tool which assist referees by allowing them to review the action from a variety of angles with greater clarity and amend in-game decisions. The IRS uses the camera feeds from broadcasters and facilitates footage from different camera angles to be presented with complete synchronicity. Use of IRS is a requirement for certain competitions and an IRS operator is allocated a position at the scorer’s table. 

 

Across sport there is growing interest in the use of centralized control centers to review game decisions. The ability to review multiple games in a remote location can help to spread the costs across several venues, however, this relies upon sufficient and reliable connectivity within the venue. 

 

Whistle-controlled timing systems

Accuracy is critical in the game of basketball. Games can be won or lost in the last second and game time is recorded to an accuracy of 1/10 second. Whistle-controlled timing systems (WCTS) are used in elite basketball competitions. The system detects the referee’s whistle and sends a signal to stop the game clock, removing the reaction time of a human operator. The WCTS is connected to the scoreboard, therefore when a venue is selecting a scoreboard, it is important to consider its capability to connect to different systems. 

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LED glass floor 

FIBA Approved glass floor systems provide the same performance properties, in terms of shock absorbency, vertical deformation, ball bounce and slip resistance, as a wooden floor. They are approved for use in FIBA Level 1 and 2 competitions. With the incorporation of LED technology, the glass floor also acts as a screen where graphics or video can be displayed. This can transform the arena, enhance the game experience, provide entertainment, and facilitate flexible branding. The ability to quickly switch between the court marking configurations of different sports also provides venues with the flexibility to host more events within a given timeframe. The glass floor system can also connect with other technologies to display real-time player statistics or tracking information. 

 

Depending on the usage case, the LED glass floor can be provided as a fixed installation or a mobile solution. The subfloor in the area of the installation must be level and hard-surfaced so that a forklift or other machinery with a weight of five tons can be supported. LED glass floors are usually deeper than classic wooden floor systems so this should be factored into the floor design. An appropriate power supply and data connectivity are required.

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Training equipment 

When compared to game time, players spend a large portion of their time training and preparing for the big moments. Technology is also enhancing the way that players train. 

 

One tool that makes training more efficient, whilst collecting player performance data, is the use of Basketball Shooting Machines. These machines usually comprise of a net collection device (to contain any missed shots) and a ball launcher (to return the ball to the practicing player), allowing for high-repetition shooting sessions. The systems are approximately 100cm x 80cm x 200cm, require a power source and should be stored in close proximity to the practice court. 

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The key to the success of many of these technologies is the ability to collect and distribute data and content in real time. When thousands of spectators gather in a venue, mobile networks can become congested and overloaded, limiting the connectivity available to fans. A fast and reliable connection is essential for the organization of major sports events. Many of the above-mentioned systems require substantial bandwidth and low latency. In addition, each technology must operate on a different frequency to avoid interference. Local laws and regulations on radio frequency can limit the number of available bandwidths. 

 

5G (the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks) provides a lower latency and larger data capacity allowing for fast movement of large data and live streaming. 5G also supports more devices staying connected in a relatively small area, giving fans the opportunity to engage with social media, game statistics and in-venue smart phone activations. The full impact of 5G and how it will affect the fan experience is yet to be determined. 

 

Venues should provide flexibility for the accommodation of server space and connectivity options, whilst being aware that more systems may transition to cloud storage solutions which would eventually reduce the need for server space. Flexibility and future-proofing (see Sub-section 2c) are vital in adapting to future trends. The industry is constantly evolving and advancements in technology and changing societal needs continually open the door for new technology.

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