IoT Tennis Access Control Family
Andy Bromley CSL - Strategic Product Manager
3 min read

Anyone for a game of tennis? This phrase evokes memories from bygone times of Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn. Perhaps it even created a stereotype that slowed down participation in what is now the world's sixth most played sport globally and fourth most popular in the UK. Over 4.7m people in the UK, 25m in Europe and 87m worldwide now play tennis and we'd like to think we're helping to increase that number. 

How tennis has developed in the country based on Wimbledon, Andy Murray, etc:

Since Andy Murray won his last Wimbledon and Olympics titles in 2016, tennis participation had been on a steady decline up until 2021. At this point, and the timely triumph of Emma Raducanu in the 2021 US Open, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced it was investing up to £30m (made up of £21.9m from the Government and £8.4m from the LTA) to help offset the effects of the pandemic and to make tennis more accessible and welcoming for all.

IoT has had a big part in raising the profile of Tennis which we saw at last year's Wimbledon tournament with Vodafone's "Crop to Centre Court" solution, using multi-capability IoT Trackers to monitor the transition of strawberries from Farm to Fork. Did you know that 30 tonnes of strawberries are eaten at the tournament every year? Amazing.

Days gone by:

When I was a lad (a long time ago, admittedly) we used to have to flick through the Yellow Pages, find and telephone a local tennis club, book a court, turn up and wait for a caretaker to come and unlock the gate and, if there were any, turn on the floodlights. In today’s world, that is not particularly accessible or welcoming for me and certainly not cost effective for the local tennis court owner. Cost reduction, being a significant part of positive IoT use cases.

How IoT is playing a role in making access better:

In 2023, I don’t expect to have to wait for that caretaker and I want to be able to book on an app, turn up at the court and punch in my unique access code which, in turn, should open the gate and the floodlights should turn on. Do we expect anything less than full automation these days?

The LTA’s funding announcement included a Quick Access Help Scheme to aid the introduction of online booking systems, install and remotely switch on/off floodlights, provide court coverings and give greater access to pay as you play schemes. The first two are far easier when you have internet which is not always possible for many courts where there is only mains or solar power.  

With over 2.5 million live connections and tens of thousands of CSL Routers installed across Europe, CSL is ideally placed to solve the challenges posed where internet is not available. In many cases it's as much a case that the IT department does not want to allow you on the corporate network (this happens far more than you’d think).

As shown in our router case study, the CSL Router gives immediate 4G internet connectivity where required. It comes as a single or dual SIM solution and gives a single static IP address to ensure you can always get back into the device.

This is essential to drive costs down by providing remote access to service, diagnose and fix issues without incurring the cost of sending an engineer to site. It also uses private APN and encrypts all data from end-to-end enhancing security for the entire solution, satisfying cyber security requirements. Another additional benefit of not sending an engineer to site is of course fewer carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere. As a "by-proxy" managed solution, nobody should have to travel to site.

We can even help manage costs by providing our expertise in defining the appropriate data bundle required for any specific site.   

What has happened since 2021:

Aided by the success of Emma Raducanu and the LTA’s funding announcement, 2022 saw a record rise in tennis participation to its highest level since 2017. In fact, it jumped 43% from the previous year and saw 4.7m adults playing the sport. More than 2m of them play at least once a month – a huge rise from half that number a couple of years before.

Amongst other initiatives, the LTA has proven that their bold move in 2021 has provided a sound ROI to their initial investment in technology, such as IoT, increasing participation growth, future interest in the sport and greater future commercial revenue. There are many other opportunities out there for sport and IoT, this is just the start.

Here's to a long future of building a more accessible tennis set-up for generations to come, a great example of IoT for good, and in particular, for sport!

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