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Introducing Nick Talton as Project Manager

At Intelligent Play, we have recently welcomed Nick Talton to the team as Project Manager.

Nick brings extensive industry experience and will lead on project management for Intelligent Play installations around the world. In this Insights post, we chat with Nick about his previous experience, his new role and what he’s looking forward to achieving over the coming year…

Tell us a bit about your background

I’m a qualified Quantity Surveyor and Project Manager with over 13 years of leading industry expertise in delivering projects within the sports construction Industry.

Throughout my career I have delivered projects from grassroots level up to elite sports level, with a continued focus on ensuring performance, time and cost standards are achieved.

 

What will your new role at Intelligent Play involve?

My new role as Project Manager for Intelligent Play will see me managing projects from the initial design and specification throughout to completion, client onboarding and aftercare. I will be the primary point of contact for our delivery teams, clients and other key stakeholders around the world.

The role will see me working closely with the board of directors at Intelligent Play to deliver their vision and ensure we offer the best possible value and quality for our clients through our innovative, patented technology.

 

What attracted you to this role?

Being able to travel overseas and be involved with a fast-paced, growing business were most certainly the biggest attraction.

I was already familiar with the system and software in place at Intelligent Play from my career as a sports pitch contractor and have always been impressed with the level of data supplied in the dashboard as well as the reporting functions.

I was excited by the opportunity to put my career experience and education to work for an innovative and progressive company in an industry I am already so familiar with.

 

What are you most looking forward to achieving in the role over the next 6-12 months?

Over the next 6-12 months, I am looking forward to growing the business at Intelligent Play and adding to our ever-increasing project portfolio.

There are a varied number of sectors where we have our technology installed and I believe that over the next 12 months we will further understand the key requirements and benefits of the system for each sector to be able to deliver the best value for clients managing pitches at every level of sport.

My personal target is to ensure that we complete every project to the highest standard, on time and to the satisfaction of our clients.

 

How has the sports construction industry changed during your career?

Over the last 13 years, the sports construction industry has evolved through developments in technology, material availability, health and safety requirements and most recently in line with COVID restrictions and changes caused by Brexit.

One thing that is consistent in our industry is the ability to adapt to changes and to show resilience in the face of challenges to ensure we continue to manage and meet our clients’ expectations.

 

With the extensive industry experience you have, what do you see as the biggest benefit you’ll bring to Intelligent Play?

I believe my experience of working with the majority of the UK’s sports consultants and pitch contractors will be the biggest benefit to Intelligent Play for the successful delivery of our projects and for developing the system into wider sectors, utilising the relationships cultivated through my previous years of experience within the industry.

By understanding our clients’ requirements, we can offer the best possible experience of working with Intelligent Play and delivering unrivalled technology to help them manage their pitches more efficiently and effectively.

 

And, finally, how do you spend your time outside of work?

Outside of work, I am a keen all-round sports fan and take every opportunity I can to watch live sport. I also enjoy travelling (which helps with this new role) and spending time with my family and friends.

To get in contact with Nick regarding Intelligent Play, email nick@intelligent-play.com

What is Live View?

Live View is a function on the Intelligent Play and FieldTurf Genius dashboards that provides a video animation showing any real-time activity (people or machine maintenance) taking place on the playing field.

If you are not physically present at your sports field, Live View is a simple way to check if any activity is currently taking place.

Watch the video below to understand how Live View works…

If you are an Intelligent Play or Genius user and would like more guidance and support on using the system or if you think Intelligent Play could benefit your facility and the work you do, please contact us here or email info@intelligent-play.com and one of our team will be in contact with you shortly.

hart leisure centre willmott dixon s & c slatter

Breaking Barriers: how technology can improve accessibility to sports facilities and encourage greater levels of physical activity

Written by Cartwright Communications, PR and digital experts in property and construction

Helen Donnellan (Director of Business Engagement, De Montford University) speaks to sports and leisure professionals about how technology can improve accessibility to our facilities and encourage greater levels of physical activity.

With one in five children described as obese by the age of 11 and 64.3 per cent of adults in England classed as either overweight or obese*, encouraging people to be physically active is critical to the nation’s health and wellbeing.

However, much of the UK’s leisure stock is more than 40 years old and has seen little capital investment due to austerity cuts. Improving our facilities is key to engaging more people in activity and technology can help, says Nick Mennell, leisure lead at Willmott Dixon.

“The experience of design is starting to shift and smart building technology is being embedded early in the construction process to encourage business growth and adapt to the changing needs of the consumer.”

hart leisure centre willmott dixon s & c slatter

The introduction of smart technologies like ambient lighting and heating systems, which can adapt to each type of activity, can help to improve engagement and increase levels of comfort for end users as well as the obvious improved building efficiencies.

Craig Mulhall, a sports & leisure consultant at LK2, believes more must be done to break down the barriers of entry to sports and leisure facilities. The sector needs to better understand the journey people go through when making decisions about starting a new regime to create inviting, accessible and unintimidating spaces.

“It is important to retain human interaction within sports and leisure environments to support the customer journey, in particular for those who are nervous about getting involved for the first time. By encouraging informal interaction with staff members – replacing reception desks with welcome desks that offer information and advice about the activities available – we can start to break down the mental barriers that often block participation. We can utilise insights from exercise behaviour science to assist us to overcome this challenge.”

The sector must also utilise technology to break down physical barriers to entry, removing obstructions to entry and ensuring that spaces are adaptable enough to be used by everyone, he says.

“Innovations in access control mean that we are now able to remove traditional access gates and improve customer experience by speeding up entry and streamlining the admissions process. Facial recognition has been trialled in centres and the use of fasttrack kiosks are fast becoming the norm.”

leicester forest east rugby club england rugby artificial grass

But we cannot focus entirely on new facilities; the utilisation of current stock is something that must also be addressed. Introducing centre management systems that produce ‘real time’ data can give insight into the centre’s usage and maintenance requirements that will enhance existing facilities and boost community engagement.

“Having access to a dashboard of ‘real time’ data that tracks facility usage and maintenance enables centre management to increase efficiencies and identify areas of potential profit. Not only can this technology extend the life of new leisure facilities, but it can also help to maximise the assets already available in both the public and private sector,” says Amii Attard, global marketing director for Intelligent Play, which creates and installs smart sports field management systems.

“For example, by identifying gaps in the booking schedule or tracking which areas of the playing field are in need of the most maintenance, AI data gives management the information they need to maximise usage and extend the life span of facilities by ensuring they are properly maintained.”

Not only can AI help facilities reach their full potential, it can also help remove another barrier of access – the British weather. By increasing the quality and safety of properly maintained pitches, AI reduces the risk of postponed or cancelled sports practice and encourages regular use of centres without disruption.

intelligent play sensors on floodlights at rectory park northolt london

In addition to the physical and mental barriers that can often prevent customer access, the sports and leisure sector also struggles with social barriers that can limit accessibility for certain demographics.

According to Fiona Dick, De Montfort University’s head of sport, with so many buildings no longer fit for purpose, many of those from lower socio-economic backgrounds have little or no access to adequate facilities.

“This inequality means that less young people are now participating in sport. This will have a direct impact on the use of university sports centres as young people progress on to higher education and neglect the leisure facilities on campus.

“While these health and fitness assets are predominantly being utilised by students who attended private schools, the ripple effect from outdated assets means that we now have the challenge of re-educating a large part of the student population on the benefits of regular exercise.”

Increasing universal accessibility by breaking down barriers of access – mental, physical and social – has allowed the industry to divert from longstanding traditions and implement forward-thinking solutions that open up facilities to a wider consumer base. Whether these solutions help to inform the design of future builds or the introduction of technologies to current assets, the sports and leisure sector will begin to benefit from a durable, high spec portfolio of facilities, which are able to evolve alongside the needs of the consumer and boost facility management and usage for years to come.

Article previously published in physical activities facilities magazine, January 2020 issue.

* Obesity statistics 2019

true or false intelligent play

True or False?

With Intelligent Play being such an innovative technology, we get lots of questions about what the system can & can’t do. In this article, we share 8 of the most frequent statements and questions we get about Intelligent Play and let you know whether they are true or false.

1. It's the world's only sports field usage and management system....

True

Whilst there are other technologies available for player tracking and monitoring of specific field aspects such as grass condition, Intelligent Play is the only monitoring system which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to autonomously track field usage, to help you manage on-field activity and to plan strategic maintenance based on live, actual usage.

2. It's just another CRM....

False

A CRM allows you to collect and store information with the intention of managing business relationships. Intelligent Play isn’t a CRM.

Our system turns real-time, on-field activity into data autonomously which is displayed clearly in the dashboard. This provides users with in-depth, accurate insights into how and when their sports fields are being used and maintained, allowing them to make decisions and implement actions that will help improve and sustain their fields over the life-span of the surface.

3. An elevated position to mount the sensors and a permanent power supply are the only site requirements needed for installation....

True

Installation requirements really are as simple as that. A sports lighting mast or pole is the most common option for mounting the sensors but for fields without lighting or a suitable mast, other mounting positions, such as a spectator stand or extended fence post can be used. For projects where there really is no existing on-site mounting position, our team can install a suitable pole or mast to accommodate the sensors.

A permanent power supply is needed because the sensors are operational 24/7 to ensure field activity is tracked at all times.

4. A pitch needs to be ripped up to install the system....

False

Intelligent Play sensors aren’t installed under a field so there is no reason why the pitch surface would need to be ripped up. Sensors are installed at height above the perimeter of the field, usually on a floodlight mast.

5. No manual input is needed....

True

Intelligent Play uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to track on-field activity and turn this into clear, understandable data and information. No manual input is needed for this because the sensors automatically track usage on the field which is processed by our system into data and sent directly to your dashboard in real-time. 

6. It can only be installed on new sports fields....

False

Intelligent Play can be easily retro-fitted for existing sports fields. It is useful to install the system on new fields as you then have usage data available from day one but it is definitely still worthwhile to install Intelligent Play for existing fields too, to help you manage usage and implement correct maintenance practices.

7. Synthetic, hybrid and natural fields can be monitored....

True

Field usage can be tracked on all field types and machine maintenance can also be tracked on synthetic fields.

8. Only 22 players can be tracked on a football pitch....

False

Our machine learning model has the ability to track many hundreds of individuals on a field at any time.

We hope that this article is useful for you and provides you with additional clarity about Intelligent Play, how it is installed and how it works.

If you have any further questions about the system, please get in touch.

fieldturf genius sports field management intelligent play

FieldTurf Genius, powered by Intelligent Play, named STMA 2020 Innovative Award winner

Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) presented our CEO, Alex Talton, and our partners, FieldTurf, with a 2020 Innovative Award at their recent annual conference held in West Palm Beach, Florida.

This award programme recognises association members who have developed a product or service that enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of sports turf managers or makes playing surfaces safer and more playable.

Winners are selected by a task group with entries evaluated against various criteria including whether or not they fill a need in the sports turf market; they are cutting-edge; they make a task easier; they create efficiencies; or they save time and resources.

During the conference, Alex spoke with Athletic Turf‘s Editor-in-Chief Seth Jones to explain how Intelligent Play works using artificial intelligence and machine learning to monitor and track usage and maintenance activity on a sports field.

A full-size field hockey, football, soccer or rugby field usually requires two sensors which are mounted at height above the field, most frequently on the floodlighting masts.

On-field activity is converted into easy-to-read data – accessible via an online dashboard – which can be used to assess high and low periods of usage, monitor impact of usage on the surface, manage and schedule maintenance, and more.

alex talton ceo intelligent play stma 2020 innovative award

Intelligent Play works in partnership with FieldTurf to deliver Genius to synthetic turf customers around the world. FieldTurf Genius utilises the Intelligent Play technology to monitor sports fields and to provide valuable data for field owners and turf managers.

The full interview can be watched in the video above and was also published on the Athletic Turf website, here.

intelligent play generate report graph sports field management

How to generate a report

The easy-to-use reporting feature of Intelligent Play allows you to quickly view your facility’s data for a user-selected time period in a series of clear graphs and charts.

Reports can also be downloaded as a PDF at the click of a button to be used in meetings and presentations or shared with colleagues, investors or others.

By following these 4 simple steps, users can generate a report:

  1. As an Intelligent Play user, login to your dashboard and select the Report option from the left-side menu.
  2. Select the date or date range that you would like to generate a report for.
  3. Check the box next to your facility or select the individual fields you’d like to make a report for.
  4. Click Generate.

It really is as simple as that.

No manual input or reliance on someone to observe and record information correctly in a spreadsheet, agenda or database.

Intelligent Play collects the data from your facility via the installed sensors and the information is then readily available for you whenever and wherever you need it.

intelligent play facility data insights

5 ways to use facility data

With around 200 fields globally using Intelligent Play, our clients vary from community facility owners and education estate managers to grounds teams for some of the biggest professional sports clubs in the world.

But when a system gives you such in-depth data, how can you make use of such important information?

Here, we share five ways to use facility data from Intelligent Play…

1. Participation monitoring

Unlike booking systems, entry turnstiles, or other technology or paper methods used to track users of a facility, Intelligent Play requires no human input or action. Our sensors track exact participation and activity on a field at all times, ensuring you have access to data showing the true picture of how many people use your facility for each hour of each day.

2. Maintenance scheduling

The maintenance calendar and tracking functions keep you informed of what maintenance activities need to be carried out and when they are required. This data is not only pre-programmed into the system based on your field type but is also fully intuitive so if participation on your field increases from what is expected then your maintenance requirements will automatically adjust and you will receive an alert that action needs to be taken.

 

3. Staffing allocation

By having clear visibility of busy and quiet periods on your field, you can allocate your duty and grounds staff accordingly, ensuring that staffing levels are correct throughout the week, maintenance activities can be scheduled appropriately and time is spent more efficiently when managing and maintaining your field.

intelligent play facility data insights usage monitoring graph
4. Increasing revenue

If you booked 1 additional hour of paid usage per day on your sports field, then it is estimated* that over the lifespan of the surface, you could generate an extra £750,000 in profit. Intelligent Play easily and clearly shows you the quiet / least booked hours and days for your facility, allowing you to direct your advertising to suitable groups or engage with new users who could make use of this time.

*based on average full-size 3G hire rates in the UK

5. Funding support

A business case for investment in your facility will be better supported and better received if you are able to demonstrate your requirements based on accurate information and hard facts. As an example, if you have two fields and are seeking investment to install floodlights on a pitch that currently does not have lighting, then accurate participation data for your floodlit field showing bookings until 10pm every evening could help prove the need for the additional resource.

The facility data from Intelligent Play can be easily turned into reports and exported at the click of a button to be used in meetings and presentations as required. For more info on how to generate a report from Intelligent Play, click here.

If you are an Intelligent Play user and would like more guidance and support on using the system or if you think Intelligent Play could benefit your facility and the work you do, please contact us here or email info@intelligent-play.com and one of our team will be in contact with you shortly.