The San Diego Padres, with an assist from Qualcomm and OSIsoft, are using sensors, data collection and analytics in a bid to reduce operating costs by 25%.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

August 25, 2016

6 Min Read
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

Figure 1: 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

No cutting cuts costs
Working with the existing system is important; cutting into existing systems to modify them is expensive, Namboodiri said.

Prior to doing the work on Petco Park, Qualcomm and OSIsoft did the same implementation on Qualcomm's campus in San Diego, testing six buildings of the 50 total. Some of the buildings are owned by Qualcomm, some leased, some retrofitted, and some built from scratch. "It's the same as a ballpark, where you have a lot of different manufacturing partners and systems going in," Allgood said.

For the Petco project, the Padres are looking to get the capability to bill back vendors for the utilities they use, Guglielmo said.

Following the presentation -- but before the ballgame and lunch -- Qualcomm and OSIsoft executives took journalists on a tour of several of the sensor locations.

For gas, San Diego Gas & Electric allowed Qualcomm to connect sensors to the gas main it owns and operates on an exterior wall of the stadium. For safety, SDG&E required Qualcomm to locate the sensors a couple of dozen feet from the gas, said Tony D'Agnese, director, program management for Qualcomm. Qualcomm located its gateway inside a small box, about two or three times the size of a shoebox, mounted to the wall with a glass panel. The box can also be hidden away.

Inside are gateways running a small app on a Snapdragon processor, which can connect over TCP/IP, Bluetooth, WiFi, or LTE. The Padres asked to use Ethernet connectivity, for reliability and simplicity, Qualcomm principle engineer Dirk Stein said.

Next stop was the chilled water system, which provides coolant for air conditioning. The chilled water is provided by the city through fat conduits, some wider than a person's body, and then piped to cooled areas such as suites and the press room. In those areas, fans blow air over the chilled water to provide air conditioning.

As with the gas system, the Snapdragon-based gateways connect using existing wiring to conduits owned by a third party. In the case of the chilled water, that third party is the city of San Diego, D'Agnese said.

"The only thing we added was two pieces of wire and a connector," D'Agnese said. Having no need to cut into pipes drastically reduces costs. "You go from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars. That's a big deal."

The next stop was the fresh water supply, where existing sensors monitor gallons per minute. Qualcomm's sensors take readings five times per second, with OSI collecting data. "During the game you can see when people go to the bathroom, and get a drink of water, then at the end of the game everybody goes to the bathroom and there's a spike," Stein said.

OSIsoft says it is working with partners on similar projects in a half-dozen stadiums nationwide, with the potential to fit out a total of 30 ballparks in Major League Baseball.

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— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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