ASU Brings IoT to Sun Devil Stadium FTW

Innovative uses of IoT make life on campus easier for Arizona State University students. The real fun happens at the stadium, where technology tackles entertainment and efficiency. Here’s a look at some of ASU’s IoT-powered projects.

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Image credit: ASU

Arizona State University has embraced the use of IoT technologies across its campus and beyond. The university has installed sensors, cameras, and smart systems to monitor water consumption and HVAC systems on campus, helping it meet sustainability goals. It has consolidated fleet management to improve cross-departmental vehicle use and planning.

Students benefit from IoT-enabled systems as well. They can swipe their mobile phone to access buildings and find detailed information about their dining options, meal plan balances, and calorie counts for meals on the app. This year, ASU introduced digital tickets for football games.

Paperless ticketing emerged this year to address fraud and long lines at entry gates. Electronic tickets are delivered with a barcode or RFID tag, so fans can scan their mobile phone or plastic card for entry. Digital ticket scanners at the stadium read the barcodes more quickly, and tickets can be emailed to others easily if the ticket is resold.


IoT Is in the House

In fact, ASU’s IoT integration started at the University Technology Office (UTO) in the Sun Devil football stadium. ASU teamed with Intel to improve the stadium’s WiFi system, and ASU later installed Volteo sensors beneath seats in specific sections of the stadium. During home games, the sensors collect environmental data and track crowd noise and movement data. When fans are encouraged to make noise, the tech measures the decibel level of the cheering in real-time and projects the results on a sound meter displayed on the jumbotron. Fans in the loudest section receive a notification on their ASU mobile app, which can include a simple text message, a coupon, or a freebie from a sponsor.

The stadium is also promoting school spirit with Bluetooth-enabled light sticks and light-up Sun Devil horns. Using custom software, the UTO can control the lights, making them flash or change colors throughout the stadium or by section. Light sticks in the end zone might shine maroon and gold after a touchdown, for example. The stadium can also synchronize the light shining from fans’ phones through a mobile app.

Full stadium with green purple and red lights emitting from mobile app

Image credit ASU

While those are entertaining IoT deployments, ASU’s technology use goes beyond fomenting the crowd at home games. The university has integrated IoT for more practical purposes as well. Some IoT-based projects include:

Easier parking. The ASU mobile app tracks in real-time the availability of spaces in parking lots and parking structures on campus. As drivers get near the stadium, the app suggests parking options. Using the digital ticket, the app can also direct fans to the parking lots that are closest to their seats.

Gauging fan satisfaction. The UTO developed algorithms that track specific usernames and hashtags on Twitter to determine the mood of the crowd. Filters analyze tweets to see if fans are excited, surprised, or upset when they are at the game. An uptick in complaints about concessions or messy bathrooms triggers a notification to stadium staff, who can respond to those issues immediately. If fans tweet about a fight in the stands, stadium security can be dispatched to intervene.

Maintaining facilities. Stadium faucets are equipped with sensors that detect the temperature and length of time water has been running. If the water is on too long, it sends a notification to the custodial staff indicating which faucet to check and where it’s located. The system allows ASU to determine how much water is used at any given time, and it prevents floods or leaks. Even stadium trash cans have sensors that alert staff when they meet a weight threshold, so waste isn’t overflowing.

ASU is using IoT-enabled solutions to have fun—one administrator admitted that not all IoT projects explicitly benefit the bottom line—but the university is clearly invested in building smart systems that make campus life better for students and for ASU as a whole.

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