For two weeks every year, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), a small private members’ club, scales up its infrastructure to stage the Grand Slam Wimbledon Tennis Championships. During Wimbledon the Club accommodates around ½ million spectators and the world’s sporting media on site, and over ¾ billion television viewers on 129 TV channels in 173 countries. In 2011 over 15.6 million unique users visited the official Wimbledon website, 451 million page views were served and 881 thousand people downloaded the IBM Wimbledon iPhone app.
IBM has been the Official Technology Partner of Wimbledon since 1990, as well as sponsoring the other three tennis Grand Slams. This constant cycle of events sets up a perpetual stream of innovation that sees the technology becoming smarter year on year:
IBM was appointed Official IT Supplier and Consultant to the All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships.
IBM implemented the Championships Information System, the first integrated solution providing Championship information to user groups such as the press, media, broadcasters and public.
The Radar speed of serve was introduced on Centre and No 1 Court.
The specially designed Data Entry Keypad enabled the collection of the courtside match statistics to be achieved in as fast a time as possible, by a team of dedicated people with excellent tennis knowledge.
The Player Report proved valuable to both players and coaches in helping them analyse their performance and that of their opponent. Initially giving basic statistical detail, enhancements such as service direction, returns, tactics, strokes played and a full point-by-point match history have made the report a useful coaching tool. From 2000 the player report was accompanied by a video or DVD of the match.
The introduction of the visionary website - www.wimbledon.org - led the way for live sports websites in the UK
The Internet shop developed by IBM was one of the first e-business sports sites. It allowed the All England Club to reach new marketplaces across the world, providing the global tennis fan with instant access to official merchandise.
Complementing the radar system introduced in 1991 on Centre and No 1 Courts, courtside serve speed displays were introduced in 1999.
A new on-site information service - Wimbledon Information System (WIS) – was developed using a standard browser interface supported on an IBM DB2 database.
The In-ground Match Information Display – a large LED-based screen providing match information – provided the public in the grounds with scores, results, order of play and other useful data.
IBM clients in hospitality and around the grounds were provided with up to-the minute scores, results and biographies via PDA devices from Pocket Wimbledon on GPRS.
A pilot wireless network infrastructure was introduced primarily for the photographers to use courtside, so that they could quickly upload their photographs wirelessly across the network to their picture editors.
The unique Wireless Real Time Badge Scanning (RTID) initiative allowed the Club to enhance its security portfolio by enabling instant authorisation of staff accreditation badges at entrance gates.
The Club commissioned IBM to develop a tailor-made web-based solution to help the process for the recruitment and training of the ball boys and girls.
Match Analysis DVDs were provided to all singles players on Centre & No 1 Courts at the conclusion of their match.
IBM added Internet Security Systems (ISS) Global Threat Map to analyse and block potentially malicious attackers and prevents unwanted access to the hosting infrastructure.
The IBM Seer augmented reality phone application acted as an onsite, real-time guide and interactive map for Wimbledon and allowed users to view live data about whatever they were looking at, through their smartphone. The first Grand Slam tennis iPhone app was also created which transformed how fans kept up with the action, with nearly 700,000 downloads of the app during the Championships.
IBM further improved the IBM SEER by adding live video feeds from the BBC and other strategically placed cameras around the grounds.
IBM piloted player movement tracking and a complete set of fully 3D graphics were created for the BBC. PointStream was introduced – a new scoreboard that helps bring tennis data to life in different visual ways. In another ‘first’, IBM used predictive analytics software to identify patterns and potential outcomes based on historical Grand Slam data.