Delivering high-tech but temporary connectivity to the Volvo Ocean Race's Auckland stopover has presented the race's connectivity partner, Dimension Data, with both environmental and logistical challenges.
"It's quite exciting," said Dimension Data CEO Wayne Yarr, when speaking exclusively to Reseller News. "It's a short period of time to be able to get all that connectivity sorted out and to make sure it is implemented and tested.
"Also, we are working with multiple parties to ensure all the applications and data can flow across nicely and that it works on the day."
The race village stretches across Halsey Wharf, Viaduct Events Centre, Te Wero and the Eastern Viaduct, with concrete wharves separated by water.
A range of different stakeholder requirements, from the teams, organisers, the public, food and beverage vendors and the media, added further complications.
All of that meant the village could not be networked in the usual way or, because of the amount of interference in the area, rely solely on wireless technology, explained Yarr.
"The challenge is, the location first of all is down by the viaduct," he said. "It's a complex environment, it's not a simple infrastructure down there.
"It's complicated because you've got certain times that you need to do it and further by the fact the water is being stirred up by the big boats. The divers couldn't even see what they were doing properly."
Dimension Data has roll out 750 metres of fibre and three kilometres of copper networks as well as access points. The result, installed this month, was the creation of a custom-architected system, combining wired and wireless connectivity.
The round-the-world race, one of the toughest global sports events, returns to Auckland from February 24 to 18 March. The race village is expected to attract more than half a million visitors during the stopover.
Half a million fans are expected to visit the village and the network will help them connect and amplify the event.
"You've got to plan for a certain level of demand on that network," Yarr added. "We've had to look at the expectations around demand.
"If you've got 500,000 fans and they've each got three devices that connect, you've got to be able to cater to that and the kind of data that's going to be flowing across that network.
"Sports events today are becoming very technical, and connectivity for both competitors and spectators is crucial in delivering a world-class experience for an event of this scale. Today we all expect connectivity to be seamless and intuitive. However, a lot has to happen for this to be the case and it’s no easy task."
Dimension Data has Abrie Grobbelaar, formerly the race's 2015 IT manager in Auckland, managing the current project and network programme and service management office.
During the stopover the solutions provider will showcase how technology and data is accelerating digital transformation, including a custom-built 20-foot brand activation container demonstrating its global and local technology solutions.