Real-Time Speed and Yellow Jerseys: Big Data Tackles the Tour de France

Jim Poole
Real-Time Speed and Yellow Jerseys: Big Data Tackles the Tour de France

Maybe it was inevitable that big data and the world’s biggest cycling event would eventually team up.

The South African IT firm Dimension Data Plc. has created a platform that uses real-time big data analytics to give fans of this year’s Tour de France up-to-the-second information about individual riders and the race that’s never been available before.

The data is being transmitted from live trackers that Dimension Data installed under the saddles of 198 riders. The information is collected, processed and analyzed by Dimension Data in a cloud platform that spans five continents and then sent out in a real-time data stream.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said in a press release that the new technology will “enable a better analysis of the race. … It will now be possible to understand how to prepare for a sprint finish in the last few kilometers of a stage, feel the wind’s impact on the rider’s speed, and so much more.”

Among the insights now instantly available to race-watchers:

  • The current position of individual cyclists
  • The real-time speed of individual cyclists
  • The distance between each rider
  • Which riders are racing in a group, which plays into race strategy

Dimension Data estimates the data it’s processing consumes more than 350 million CPU cycles per second. It also expects the 198 riders to generate 42,000 geospatial points and 75 million GPS readings. And the live tracking website that displays the race information gleaned from all this enables fans with tablets, smartphones and laptops to follow the race in ways that aren’t possible on TV.

For instance, after Stage 17 the site showed the total kilometers covered (2,815.8), leader Simon Geschke’s top speed in the descent from the Col d’Allos mountain pass in the Alps (73.4 kilometers per hour, which is 45.6 miles per hour) and the stage’s fastest kilometer (Benoit Vaugrenard covered that distance at an average speed of 44.82 kph).

As cool a look as big data can give into the Tour de France, it’s just a sliver of the kind of insights that will be found in the mountains of data that will be available to individuals, organizations and businesses in coming years, particularly as the Internet of Things expands.

Cisco has predicted as many as 50 billion things will be connected to the Internet by 2020, and the information they transmit is just one portion of a growing data pool that has potential to offer businesses competitive advantages they couldn’t have previously imagined by offering information they couldn’t previously have known. But unless organizations figure out how to quickly handle and mine insights from the data, they’ll fall behind.

An organization that can directly link to the different components of the big data market – data sources, storage sites, analytics firms, etc. – will have a significant advantage as direct connections offer lower latency, high performance and greater agility. That really matters because companies will need to quickly and securely move and analyze large data sets. And it’s where Equinix offers an edge, because all the ecosystems needed to get the most out of big data are inside our 105 worldwide data centers. They are interconnected, protected and directly accessible inside Equinix.

Big data’s influence is fast expanding well past the world’s biggest cycling event. To learn more about Equinix and big data, check out this blog post: “Big Data Isn’t a Big Problem.”

“Bonne chance” to all the remaining riders providing data-driven insights into the race as they roll into the conclusion of the Tour de France this Sunday in Paris.


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Jim Poole Former Vice President, Business Development
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