When I toured construction of the expansion of Daytona International Speedway, a project called Daytona Rising, in the summer of 2014, one of the more intriguing elements was the DIS’s search for ways to use technology to enhance the overall experience at the Speedway.
Brandon McNulty, the Chief Technology Officer of the International Speedway Association, the parent company to Daytona International Speedway, said at the time that he wanted the new stadium to be the most interactive to date, with social areas/neighborhoods throughout the concourses, free Wi-Fi, and RFID technology to tailor the experience to each attendee.
It’s not just geeks who want real-time information for events; so do sports fans. Last year, for the first time, the NFL had an app specific to inside the SuperBowl venue in order to provide optimum information and an interactive experience at the game.
Daytona International Speedway has the same goal as the NFL. Today, they announced two new pieces that will support those goals. DIS has tapped ARRIS Group, Inc, a global telecommunications company, to enhance Wi-Fi connections at the speedway, beginning with Speedweeks 2016.
Why is that important? As someone who’s attended numerous events at the Jacob Javits Convention Center (New York City) that claim to offer free Wi-Fi but instead offer non-functioning Wi-Fi, I know a system is only as good as the tech behind it. New York Comic Con had a terrific app but could I access that app during the con? Never.
“In our ever-connected world, consumers expect to be able to interact with their social circles and share their experiences in real-time from anywhere, and we are certainly seeing the same in motorsports,” said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III in a press release. “Bringing an unprecedented level of connectivity to DIS and motorsports in general was a non-negotiable when we began Daytona Rising, and we’re excited to work with ARRIS to help us accomplish this goal.”
There will also be a new and improved mobile app for the Speedway itself, plus interactive information stations at the facility to help guide attendees around, which sounds exactly what McNulty was talking about during my visit in 2014.
ARRIS will provide Wi-Fi access to some of the most high-traffic areas of DIS to offer fans more connectivity. Fans will be able to log in throughout the concourses and neighborhoods in the nearly mile-long frontstretch. Fans in the Midway and Sprint fanzone will be able to connect as well. This installation will be complete in time for Speedweeks 2016 with additional areas of the property gaining Wi-Fi access later in the year.
The new mobile app (free) will launch by the end of January to help fans take full advantage of the amenities and offerings that the new motorsports stadium will provide. The features will include Bluetooth-based indoor and GPS-based outdoor turn-by-turn navigation, location-based proximity engagement, and the ability to drop pins to remember certain locations like your parking spot. That’s powered by Spreo Indoor Location Solutions. The app will also include an interactive GPS facility map and what the DIS officials are calling “dynamic experiences” in each of the new injectors/entrances to the speedway.
Also included are customizable daily schedules notifications and the DIS social media and news feeds.
Finally, DIS will unveil its new Daytona Rewards Stations, positioned throughout the stadium, which McNulty talked about in theory when I interviewed him. To participate, fans will only need to a complete a one-time registration in which they will be issued a unique QR code. Using that code, fans will be able to play games, see photos and videos, win prizes, and more. The system will also be fully integrated into the updated app to provide “one unified mobile experience for fans,” said DIS officials.
Given how expensive attendance at a sports event can be, and given that sometimes the experience at a stadium is less comfortable than staying at home to watch, I suspect DIS won’t be the only one updating their technology so people will have an experience at the stadium that they can’t get at home. Many MLB and NFL stadiums already have Wi-Fi and some have stadium-specific apps, like Gillette Stadium near me, but the interactive stations DIS is installing aren’t standard.