How Dimension Data Is Keeping Track of Entire Tour de France

South Africa-based company is providing the backbone data collection and analytics to create most of the data points that are coming out of the 21-stage event.

One can find big data in almost anything. There is big data inside baseball statistics, weather conditions, census reports and traffic-flow studies.

The Tour de France is in high gear this weekend, and, yes, there are big data numbers involved there, too. As might be expected, there are scads of event-type apps for smartphones and tablets that can be downloaded to enable race fans to follow the general action—or their favorite riders or teams of riders—wherever and whenever they choose.

South Africa-based Dimension Data is providing the backbone data collection and analytics to create most of the data points that are coming out of the 21-stage cross-France race this year. Dimension Data offers design, development, and management solutions for IT networks and applications and is really into collecting, crunching and analyzing big data sets.

Dimension Data has a personal stake in the race, too, because it is running its own team in it.

Data Points Provide Richer Experience for Race Fans

The data points on the riders provide richer, more immersive experiences for fans to understand what is happening during the race via their apps. The data is also shared with television broadcasters to enhance their coverage of the race.

Halfway through the race this week, Dimension Data's big data truck had traveled with the Tour every step of the way (2,000-plus km), processed nearly 60 million data records in real time, and laid 5,400 meters of cables. Through Stage 13 on July 15, the 198 riders had traversed a wide range of topography and weather conditions as they came down to the final nine days of the competition, which is scheduled to end on July 24.

Here is a short video demonstrating some of the data points and statistics compiled by Dimension Data.

Here's a quick snapshot of race analytics and data processed from the first nine stages:

--The riders climbed 9,000 meters in the Pyrenees–higher than Mount Everest.
--The average speed of all riders across the nine stages was 23.95 mph.
--The Dimension Data hybrid cloud solution used more than 100 virtual servers leveraging 300 unique cloud services; it also delivered at 99.999 percent availability in serving 55,000 requests per second.
--The 198 riders in 22 teams generated 42,000 spatial points and 75 million geospatial points.

During the first nine stages, there were four sprint finishes. While Mark Cavendish of Team Dimension Data won three of them, that didn't make him the fastest man on the road. Marcel Kittel (EQS) recorded the high speed of 74.27 km/h on stage 6.

The longest time that the riders were in the saddle was 5:59:54 on stage 3. During stages 7, 8, and 9 in the Pyrenees, the riders climbed 9,000 meters, with the slowest average speed on a single climb ranging from 13.6 km/h to 15.8 km/h.

Other Information Points Made Available

Other statistics include:

--162.5 km (stage 7): shortest distance traveled in one day;
--237.5 km (stage 4): longest distance traveled in one day;
--196.6 km: average distance traveled each day;
--44.35 km/h: highest average speed on a stage (stage 1);
--Race leader Chris Froome (UK) had an average speed of 39.67 km/h during the first nine stages.

"The new next-generation tracking devices under the riders' saddles have increased the data capture coverage range tenfold: from 100 meters in 2015 to 1,000 meters this year," said Adam Foster, Dimension Data's group executive of sports practice. "This means we can tell richer and more enhanced stories as they happen, giving viewers, the media, cycling fans and race commentators deeper insights into some aspects of the sport that weren't available until now."

Here is a video that explains the collaboration tools and strategy used at the major international event.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...