Industry & Real Estate

Wednesday, 18 June 2008 11:55

Intelligent Stadia Essential for Return on Investment

 
{pp}Information Technology (IT) is throwing a lifeline to stadium owners who are under pressure to turn these vast, usually plainly functional, constructions into revenue generators.

“The 2010 FIFA World Cup is going to be a great South African showcase – not only for football – but for demonstrating the efficiency that IT, based on structured cabling systems for all services, brings to the profitability of building complexes such as stadia,” says Bradley Hemphill, CEO of Electrical Engineering Solutions, an ISO 9000 certified electrical and electronic engineering firm. With billions of rands being invested in these sturctures owners need to be able to plan for maximum efficiency in their operation and maintenance. With intelligence built in, stadia can easily become multi-purpose venues, giving owners a choice of customers and a better chance of year-round use.

WSP Consulting Engineers, with support from Electrical Engineering Solutions, is involved in two new stadia that will be FIFA World Cup showpieces for intelligent building complexes – Green Point in Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela Bay Multi- Purpose Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The latter needs to be ready for the 2009 FIFA Confederation Cup. Hemphill says that the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium will be the first ‘intelligent’ stadium in South Africa because it is being purpose built to meet FIFA’s standards. As a multi-purpose stadium it needs to quickly be transformed from a sporting pitch to a rock-concert stage. The more intelligent the stadium is, the more cost effective it will be to host varied events.

“To integrate all these needs is a major undertaking if the intelligent infrastructure is not built into the structure at the start of construction. Unfortunately most South African stadia were not built to be smart.” Hemphill adds that because stadia cost mega-billions of rands to build there is tremendous pressure on their owners – sporting bodies or municipalities for example – to view them as revenue generators, rather than loss-making amenities. “By building an intelligent backbone into the stadium complex at the outset we have, at Nelson Mandela Bay, realised a saving of about 12% on the capital cost of ICT installation.

Because all the management system applications that run on this backbone are integrated we are able to give management the tools with which to more easily manage events and streamline stadium maintenance.” These applications include managing the entire IP network and telephony provisions, advertising screens around the stadium, access control at turnstiles, ticketing systems, lighting and sound management, concession stand management, plumbing and electrical maintenance and other operational procedures.

“To better manage operations and effectively deploy staff an integrated management system is a major benefit to stadium management. They can identify potential problems and deal with them before they become a major issue. All this reduces operating costs, contributing to a better bottom line.”

Recurring revenue generation needs positive customer experiences and stadia management need to put in place systems that streamline, rather than hinder, the customers’ use of the facility. For example, sports fans need to have turnstile systems that ensure ease of access to the correct area and concession stand vendors need to have the necessary cost effective facilities such as internet connectivity and cashless vending systems. At Green Point, a major focus of the ‘smart stadium’ is the safety and evacuation systems. The sound system must be able to serve as an intelligible voice evacuation system so sports fans are able to easily hear and act on information relayed through the loudspeakers.

“The systems we’re putting in place will enable a crisis to be managed from a single point. Cameras and computerised graphic representations will pin point potential evacuation problems, such as doors that haven’t opened, and alternative routes can quickly and clearly be broadcast throughout the stadium.” Stadia owners, like all investors in large building complexes, want to attract the best operators so they can maximise their investment. Having an integrated network, open architecture and sufficient and flexible structured cabling will ensure this, says Hemphill.

About Electrical Engineering Solutions
Electrical Engineering Solutions is an ISO 9000 certified electrical and electronic engineering, and project management firm working in all sectors of industry throughout southern Africa, eastern Africa as well as in some Arab countries. Based in Cape Town since 2001 the firm has specialist experience in building management and systems integration, communication networks, CCTV systems and 11kV and 400V electrical systems

About WSP
From small beginnings in Surrey, England WSP Group plc has grown into one of the world’s fastest growing design, engineering and management consultancies, specialising in property, transport and environmental projects. Operating out of over one hundred offices on five different continents and with a Group turnover in excess of 600 million Pounds a year we employ more than 10 000 people to provide management and services to both the built and natural environment.

As a subsidiary of WSP Group plc, WSP Group Africa is one of the top five multidisciplinary engineering consultancies in South Africa and one of the largest multidisciplinary engineering consultancies in Africa operating from offices across the African continent and the Indian Ocean islands.

Contact Information:
Electrical Engineering Solutions by WebWords
Bradley Hemphill,
CEO:Tel: 021-701-9020, 082-375-5900
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www.eeslive.com

Marian Shinn, Web Words: Tel: 021-788-5011/082-831-2429
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