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Australian Open 2013: tech running the tournament

ZDNet goes behind to scenes to learn more about the tech that is used to support the Australian Open.

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Topic: Australia
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1 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

The Australian Open begins

Every year, a torrent of tennis fans pours into Melbourne for the Australian Open. While they watch in awe as their favourite players perform minute-long rallies, they probably don't think much about the tech that is powering the whole event.

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2 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

What lies beneath

They also probably don't think about what is right underneath their feet — because there is actually a secret "bunker" underneath Rod Laver arena that's full of IBM gear and plastered with display monitors. From there, staff and statisticians collect and process data from the tournament.

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3 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Left to right: IBM sponsorship strategy lead Elizabeth O'Brien and Tennis Australia CIO Samir Mahir.(Credit: IBM)

Playing doubles

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Tennis Australia and IBM. As a long-time technology sponsor, the vendor provides a number of IT services, including hosting the Australian Open website on a private cloud across three of its US datacentres.

This year, IBM has introduced for the Australian Open. By monitoring a number of factors, including social-media sentiment, IBM is able to predict when there will be a lot of traffic hammering the Australian Open website, and automatically scale the back-end cloud capacity to support that.

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4 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Popularity contest

IBM is also tracking social-media data for the Australian Open's Social Leaderboard. The leader board shows which players are being talked about favourably, or unfavourably, through Twitter.

At the end of the tournament, IBM will release a Social Sentiment Index report based on this information.

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5 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Older stuff

Throughout the Australian Open, IBM will use data analytics to show what key performance indicators (KPIs) players have to meet in order to have a higher chance of winning their assigned match. All of this can be viewed by fans via the Australian Open website.

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Media helpers

Tennis Australia doesn't just have to accommodate for fans; it also has to take care of the media. Journalists and reporters are given a handy tool, AO Vision, which is an IPTV-based service that allows them to watch matches live and replay content on demand.

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Media hub

Tennis Australia rolled out around 300 AO Vision-enabled devices in the media centre.

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8 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Umpire's little helper

Every umpire is given a hand-held device called the chair umpire, dubbed Chump, to input scores and decisions made during a match in real time.

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9 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

All wired up

With so much concrete around the venue, Tennis Australia doesn't want to risk connecting the Chump wirelessly. Instead, the device is wired up to Ethernet cable that leads straight back to the server room. According to Tennis Australia CIO Samir Mahir, the organisation laid down 35km of cables for the Australian Open this year.

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10 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Multiple screens

Scores from the Chump are displayed across the different screens set up for the event.

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11 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Multiple screens

Scores from the Chump are displayed across the different screens set up for the event.

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12 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Tennis players

Gratuitous tennis star shots. Pictured here is Lleyton Hewitt.

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13 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Tennis players

Gratuitous tennis star shots. Pictured here is Lleyton Hewitt.

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14 of 14 Spandas Lui/ZDNet

Tennis players

Gratuitous tennis star shots. Pictured here is Janko Tipsarevic.

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