Thiruvananthapuram – In the Aspire Zone in Qatar, where the soccer World Cup is being held, about two hundred workers are staring at hundreds of television screens in a large hall that resembles the main center of NASA and ISRO. If the temperature in the stadium rises and the spectators are uncomfortable, a warning message will reach the command center at that moment. The temperature in the stadium changes with the touch of a button on the remote control.
If those who caused problems in the previous World Cup are among the spectators, information about them will reach the flagship centre. A warning will be sent to the police. Even an ajar door in the stadium can be detected instantly with the help of technology. For the first time in the history of the Football World Cup, there will be a flagship center for all the stadiums. It is directed by an Indian, a Malayali. Niaz Abdul Rahiman, a native of Alappuzha. After studying at MMAUP School, Alappuzha, he studied at the Military School. He completed his PG in IT from Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. Niaz is the Chief Technology Officer of the Aspire Zone Foundation, Qatar’s sports hub, the IT Executive Director of the Qatar World Cup program and the Technology Program in charge of all stadiums.
Niaz says the big question in the first phase was how Qatar would host the World Cup. The later campaign was that it was impossible to build eight stadiums in one city and host the World Cup. Qatar sees crises as opportunities. After the Asian Games, the Aspire Zone is the most important sports arena in Qatar. There are 15 international locations here. There is a sports academy and a sports hospital. When the World Cup came, Nias was appointed World Cup Technology Officer on deputation. Nias has been at work since the start of the preparations for the World Cup. The construction of the stadiums, the facilities, the technical arrangements to be implemented, the preparations and the implementation were completed under the leadership of Niaz.
All eight stadiums for the Soccer World Cup were close, so it was easy to coordinate through technology. All stadiums are technologically advanced. Temperature, security control, spectator control, general building operation, traffic control etc. are all controlled from the control center using modern technology. All stadiums are air conditioned. No matter how hot it is outside the stadium, the temperature can be controlled.
The temperature inside the stadium will be between 22 and 24 degrees during football matches. Spectator movement can also be controlled through the command center. This is helped by the 20,000 CCTV cameras installed in the stadiums. A typical stadium has 2200 cameras. Overcrowding of viewers is avoided through continuous monitoring and evaluation of data through IT technology. After each match, the traffic at the automatic gates where people come and go to the stadium will be constantly monitored through the CCTV system. It will check how many people have passed and when it was crowded. The cause of the congestion will be identified and resolved immediately.
As the gates are automatic, people can be identified when they enter the wrong gate. The reason why they went astray will be discovered and solved. Sometimes the gates change because the volunteers aren’t paying attention. Information at each gate will be checked with the help of technology. Steps are taken to avoid mistakes. The lead center has been operating since the Arab Cup. All the lights and electronic swords are controlled from the command center.
The functionality of the command center was tested in the Arab Cup. Even if the doors in the stadium are left open unnecessarily, it will be detected immediately with the help of technology. If children get lost during the competition, they will be monitored through the camera and the information will be passed on to the volunteers. Strong Wi-Fi has been installed in all stadiums. The 45,000-plus capacity stadium has 5G technology to provide everyone with super-fast internet access.
The command center is staffed by sports technology experts from various countries. About 150 of the 200 employees are Indians. 80 people work at a time in the command center on a shift basis. The work is divided into teams such as infrastructure assessment, security and IT support. Each team has been allocated stadiums. In the event of any problems, a warning message is immediately sent to the command centre. Technical systems are regularly audited by IT experts. Things that need to be adjusted will be constantly discussed. There is a special team to counter cyber attacks. Nias says there have been cyber attacks.
The challenge was to complete the construction of the stadiums in time. The construction work started from 2015. The construction work was completed on time. It was a challenge to implement new things in modern technology. Tried to reduce operating costs. The cost would have increased if there was a separate control room in each of the eight stadiums. Costs came down when the central control center came in.
“There will be four games in one day. Before the game, the gate opening process should be observed and instructions should be given. When the game in one stadium ends, the game in the next stadium starts. Things happen like a chain reaction. In the meantime, we have to overcome technical obstacles” – said Nias. Even after the World Cup, the command center will continue to operate. 25 stadiums will be connected to this platform. He says Niaz that our country should also be ready to use the services of Indian technical experts in the field of sports.
English Summary: Qatar World Cup Aspire Control Center