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Motorsport

NTT reveals new data boost to improve IndyCar fan experience

Using data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘digital twin’ capabilities, gathered from prior seasons and the first five races of the 2022 season, NTT will be delivering more detailed, real time and predictive insights.

NTT will provide data-driven predictions, ranging from the best passing opportunities to how pit and fuel strategies will play out during a race. IndyCar fans will be able to access these predictive analytics for the entire season by following the series’ social media channels, where insights will be displayed during races. In addition, NTT will continue supplying these insights and analytics to NBC’s production team with plans underway for broadcast inclusion as the season moves forward.

The insights will include, race strategies and predictions, intercepts and battles for position, pit stop performance impact and effects of fuel levels and tire wear

To accomplish this, NTT creates a digital twin for every car. A digital twin uses historical data as a foundation to mirror a physical object, such as a car. Each car has more than 140 sensors collecting millions of data points during the race, which are fed into the digital twin to produce predictions based on historical performance and real-time conditions.

As the longest race of the season, the Indy 500 will yield more data than any other race, with more than eight billion data points collected. This should allow NTT to predict race strategy with a high level of accuracy using AI and predictive analytics.

“Fans are the lifeblood of our series,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Penske Entertainment. “IndyCar will continue investing in the incredible technology that brings fans closer to the action and we have a great partner with NTT. They are consistently bringing forward new innovations to help us engage a global audience. Last year, we saw fan engagement increase at an unprecedented rate. We hope to continue on that trajectory with the help of NTT.”

Eric Clark, chief digital officer, NTT DATA Services, told Motorsport.com that the IndyCar teams’ desire to retain secrecy to avoid giving away anything to their rivals, has not proven a hindrance.

“There’s certainly a lot of data that teams want to keep to themselves. They want to keep it as competitive data. But with 140 sensors on those cars and more than eight billion data points being generated in the Indy 500, and then you add to it the billions of data points that we can analyze from past races and past seasons, from the data and analytics point of view, we want to go crunch that data and figure out what we can predict and how we can make the race more interesting.

“So our approach has been, ‘Let’s use the app to put data in front of the fans so the diehard fans can look at the data and make their own predictions and the newer fans can look at the predictions that we’re making. We make them available not only on the app but also on the social media channels and NBC are beginning to use them on the broadcast channels too.”

This complexity of producing and supplying this data in comprehensible form was made possible by using a program called the NTT Smart Platform.

“We use the Smart Platform to run data analytics for our clients,” said Clark. “It’s something that we not only have the capability to do, it gives us an opportunity to bring our clients to the track and show them how we’re using the Smart Platform to analyze the data from the NTT IndyCar Series, and we’re able to draw comparisons on how they can do that in their industry. For example, how can we use the data from their manufacturing facility to predict maintenance schedules?”

Clark says it is satisfied that the message is getting out to fans regarding how much insight they can garner from the NTT app.

“It’s funny, you’ll sometimes see the drivers on practice days looking at the app between their sessions,” he said. “They’re sponges: they want to get all the data they can get.

“And we continue to get more and more downloads of the NTT app, and we see its usage during the race. For a lot of fans it’s become a required second screen, whether they’re at the track or watching from home, there’s real-time information throughout the race.”

NTT to improve fan experience at the Speedway

  (Photo by: Scott R LePage / Motorsport Images)

NTT also announced today that it had used Smart Solutions to turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway into a ‘Smart Venue’ to improve the visitor experience for attendees and employees.

Operations and security teams have improved visibility into current and possible scenarios with digital twin technology, as well as AI-enabled optical detection providing real-time view of the venue, including visitor and vehicle traffic flow and congestion. This enables organizers to optimize resources in real time and make faster, data-driven decisions.

NTT’s Smart Solutions will also benefit fans through the IMS Mobile App, which updates predictions of gate entry wait times and peak traffic areas every 30 seconds to allow fans to better plan their entry into the venue.

NTT’s Smart Solutions have applications in several industries, such as public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail and were initially conceived to enhance public safety in the City of Las Vegas in 2018.

Since then, they have also adapted to track usage and occupancy in parks and beyond and with implementations by other clients in several industries – including universities, airports, and transit agencies for traffic and operations, passenger safety, trip planning and beyond.

Peter Cutts, chief advisory & innovation officer at NTT Ltd., said: “NTT delivers co-innovation with our clients every day and the work we’re doing with IndyCar is a perfect example of this. The interconnected digital backbone and platform NTT developed for IndyCar leverages new and emerging technologies that enable IndyCar to push the envelope by reaching new audiences and changing the way fans engage in sport.”

NTT in IndyCar – from passion project to title sponsor and tech partner

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images)

Margo Cooke, VP of brand services, event marketing and sponsorships for NTT Data Services, told Motorsport.com that the company’s partnership with IndyCar evolved from what was initially a “passion project” when it joined Chip Ganassi Racing in 2013, and came onboard as a full sponsor of Ryan Briscoe’s CGR entry in 2014.

“You can enter a sport deliberately to say, ‘Hey, there’s a great technology plan, we’re going to jump in,’ but NTT really entered the sport because of an NTT executive who grew up watching time trials at the Indy 500! He really started our entry into the sport. And we always viewed it as something that would be an opportunity to do really unique experiences for our clients because as a business-to-business company our ability to do really cool, high-impact things with a small group of the right people is tremendously strong lever in our marketing programs.

“So from that, it evolved into a ‘Hey, look at how we can take a partnership that started at a team level, into becoming technology partners with the series. It was Doug Duchardt at Ganassi who introduced us to Jay Frye [IndyCar president], the day after the Born Racer premiere [Scott Dixon documentary] and very quickly we realized that we could take what happens at a team level and bring a whole new lens to it.

“On the marketing side, we view it through a couple of different lenses. NTT is a company that to all intents and purposes a monopoly in Asia – it does not need to market. Everyone knows NTT as an established and ubiquitous brand. It acquired a lot of businesses to grow its international presence, in Europe and the United States, so we’re defining ourselves in this marketplace and motorsports has been a really great inflection point to take capabilities from all the NTT family of companies, bring them together and bring them to the sport.

“Every client that we serve regardless of the industry, they have technology-based initiatives that help to make the experience for their customers more impactful or help to make their operations more effective. If you think about what we do with the sport, fan engagement is customer experience – it’s the same, just a different context. “We’re not a consumer brand so we’re not doing what Verizon did – you can’t buy some NTT from us. But our ability to tell the stories of the technology, that’s the secret sauce for us, that’s where the investment proves itself.”