Apps Engineer mobile connectivity olympics

Funky Cisco stadium WiFi technology at The Barclay Centre

Cisco engineer & pal Stuart Clark sent me this link to a really cool stadium WiFi network deployment at The Barclay Centre. You will all of course know that the Barclay Centre is home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team (c’mon now – don’t tell me you’ve never heard of ’em).

The Cisco Connected Stadium WiFi Solution (for once they have a product name that tells it like it is) enables stadia to allow “visitors to keep up with box scores and player stats in real time. And for patrons who hate those long lines at half time, concessions can be ordered with the swipe of a finger from any seat in the house.” as the blurb puts it. All this from your phone.

I like this. Stadium technology is not straight forward as you will recall from the stuff  I wrote about preparations for the Olympics, ahem sorry London 2012 Olympics. The Cisco spiel uses lots of good phrases such as

  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to the core or distribution switches
  • Access switches that have 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE) as minimum or 802.3at PoE+ ports
    (recommended) for powering access points
  • radio resource management
  • self healing, self optimising wireless networks

I can’t find any data that tells me how to go about designing a network for, say Wembley or Twickenham which would have a lot more punters sat in their seats than a basketball arena. I presume it is doable.

What I really like is the fact that the accompanying app allows you to order hot dogs etc from your seat. I can see huge benefits should they ever implement this at Sincil Bank, the home of my local side Lincoln City (up the Imps). The queue for burgers and pies at half time is massive-ish and it often takes the whole of the half time break for you to get served.

I can see problems though. At Sincil Bank you can sit anywhere in the stand your ticket is valid for, unless that specific seat is reserved by a season ticket holder (so most of them are free). The person delivering the hot dog/pie/burger/chips would have to wander around the stand looking for you, probably shouting your name and trying to make him or herself heard over the din of the tannoy announcing the winner of the raffle. The hot dog/pie/burger/chips could well have gone cold in the meantime.

I’m sure there must be a solution for this – it’s probably in a Cisco Application Note somewhere.

As I write I can think of lots of useful addons to the app, assuming they aren’t already featured. Sports such as snooker and tennis will have their own plugins – after all you can’t expect your order of champagne, strawberries and cream to be delivered to Centre court at Wimbledon whilst the game is in play. The same applies for snooker – you’d have to wait for the bit in between frames or when the players nip out for a toilet break which happens on an ad-hoc basis so the delivery scheduling would have to be able to accommodate this – easy small deliveries in between frames, larger more complicated ones during comfort breaks.

Anyway you get the drift. I can even envisage social media hookups so that fans can comment on the game in real time from within the app. I’d better stop. Got stuff to do. Ciao…

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “Funky Cisco stadium WiFi technology at The Barclay Centre”

With the lost attendant bit you’d just include your current seat location in the app 🙂 That or you could use the wifi mapping engine to get a pretty good approximation to the location on the punter.

All the things you’ve mentioned are doable using less “expensive” kit from vendors like Ubiquiti (we know as we’ve got thousands deployed in the field) but the major issues tend to come with getting the number of end user devices per AP right (i.e. over provisioning) so that people going to the toilet at half time don’t suddenly flood certain locations with registrations.

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