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San Diego Padres Swing for the Fences With IoT

SAN DIEGO -- Enterprise users around the world are wondering how the Internet of Things can help them in their day-to-day business operations and longer-term strategies. That's why case studies and real-world examples are so important.

So when Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) sent an invite to tech journalists and partners to visit this city's Petco Park stadium and find out how IoT technology is affecting operations at the San Diego Padres, we said yes. That a baseball game, pizza and hotdogs were part of the tour and presentation was of no consequence at all.

OK, so maybe the pizza.

So what's Qualcomm's involvement? The wireless chip giant has partnered with OSIsoft, a big data IoT vendor, to fit Petco Park with sensors to control facilities management, with an ambitious goal of increasing operating efficiency and reducing operating costs by 25% over five years.

I and the other visitors arrived at the stadium VIP and press entrance and were escorted to a suite on the fifth floor, with a wall that opened to a couple of rows of comfortable, roofed-over outdoor seating, with a grand view of the ball field below.

Padres VP of operations Mark Guglielmo kicked things off with a brief statement of the problem and goals. The stadium opened in 2004, and measures 1.6 million square feet. It hosts more than 90 events year round, and more and more of those events are non-baseball games, such as concerts and truck rallies. "We were concerned we weren't using energy in a very efficient manner," Guglielmo said.

For a photo tour of the Padres' smart stadium, see our slideshow: How the Padres Hit an IoT Home Run

Cold Water
A Qualcommm edge intelligent gateway monitors chilled water used to air condition parts of Petco Park stadium. It's part of an ambitious IoT facilities management strategy.
A Qualcommm edge intelligent gateway monitors chilled water used to air condition parts of Petco Park stadium. It's part of an ambitious IoT facilities management strategy.

Ballparks are challenging for facilities managers -- they're big, the number of occupants fluctuates from a few to full capacity and back again in a few hours. And it's not just ballparks; the US has 250 stadiums each holding 20,000 or more people. And many of them are old -- the average age of the 30 ballparks in Major League Baseball in the US is 50 years. Even Petco Park -- a relative youngster at 12 years old -- lacks sophisticated instrumentation, said Manu Namboodiri, Qualcomm senior director, business development, smart cities and industrial IoT.

The Padres are using edge intelligence gateways based on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors to collect data from infrastructure systems and stream it in real time to OSIsoft's PI System to monitor utilities, operating efficiency and improve sustainability across the team's Petco Park ballpark. By monitoring water, power and gas, the Padres can work with operators and tenants to manage usage and increase reliability and performance.

The edge intelligence gateways connect to sensors and legacy systems throughout the ballpark using a variety of communications methods, including wired and wireless, analog and digital inputs, and multiple communications protocols. The gateways stream data to the OSIsoft PI System, which presents data to facilities managers using OSIsoft's Visualization Suite and analytics.

The emphasis is on using existing infrastructure and connectivity (rather than having to cut into pipes and rip out walls) to reduce costs tenfold.

The Qualcomm Smart Campus technology used at Petco Park is a "city within a city," that can be applied to any campus or mall, Kiva Allgood, VP of business development for Qualcomm Intelligent Solutions, said during the presentation Wednesday. "In a smart city, we're not going to get a chance to tear all the buildings down and build new ones," Allgood says. The goal is to make existing infrastructure more efficient. "You can do a retrofit for LEDs" -- which has been done at Petco Park -- "but you're not going to be able to rip up the plumbing, the gas, the electrical," Allgood said.

Next page: No cutting cuts costs

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