Safe lighting for sports events

Behind the scenes in stadiums, the latest lighting and sensor technologies play a vital role in making events as compelling, comfortable, and safe as possible for spectators. Several IEC technical committees prepare international standards for components and systems in the fields of lighting and sensors.

Experiencing sporting events live in outdoor or indoor installations is a unique experience. Lighting makes it possible to hold sporting events both indoors and at night. In addition, sports venues use a variety of electrical and electronic installations to provide a safer environment for fans.

Lighting must be adaptable

Stadiums increasingly host different types of events, like sports, concerts, and theatre performances. Floodlights and other lighting must be adaptable, enabling the playing arena to be illuminated to specified levels or to provide stage lighting, all the time ensuring glare and light pollution of the local environment are minimal.

Broadcasters also require the flicker present with these types of lamps to be eliminated for slow motion recording. This can be achieved by careful aiming, using mixed electrical phasing or electronic control gear that eliminates flicker.

IEC TC 34 prepares standards for all types of lamps and luminaires used in sports venues.

LED and laser technology

LED floodlights can provide the high lumen output required for high-definition broadcast standards, with a significant reduction in flicker during slow-motion broadcast replays on high-definition TVs.

Flexible colour-changing LED lighting is used in conjunction with sound and motion sensors to reflect the mood of spectators inside stadiums. The ability to switch and dim each floodlight individually allows venues to produce special light shows and create the appropriate atmosphere before and after matches. Another use for LED lighting in stadiums is in digital signage, using ribbon boards and video boards to display advertising, show scores, and play videos.

IEC TC 76, Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, prepares standards for equipment incorporating lasers and LEDs. These standards apply limits to human exposure to optical radiation from artificial sources, which is important in sports venues.

The spread of sensors

A wireless sensor network consists of spatially distributed autonomous sensors to monitor physical or environmental conditions like temperature, sound or pressure, and to pass their data through the network to a main location. Modern networks are bi-directional, also enabling control of sensor activity.

Wireless sensor networks installed in stadiums collect an ever-increasing amount of data.

  • Sensors play a major role in hazard detection and maintaining a safe and comfortable environment. Smoke and fire detectors can send information about the cause and precise location of a fire to a control centre within seconds.
  • As part of a smart building management system, sensors can monitor and programme power usage to reduce energy costs, for example, by controlling the heating and cooling of certain rooms according to the stadium’s booking schedule. Motion sensors in areas such as toilets can switch off lights and air conditioning when these areas are not in use. Carbon dioxide sensors, as well as keeping temperatures regulated, can alert maintenance crews if certain gas levels become hazardous.
  • Sensors can record large quantities of weather data inside stadiums, from temperature and relative humidity to air pressure and precipitation. In the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil, sensors in the 12 stadiums spread across several climate zones in the vast country allowed predictions of extreme heat, downpours, and storms that might affect matches.

IEC TC 47, Semiconductor devices, prepares standards for components used in a variety of sensors.

Future trends

The primary goals in future stadium design for architects, engineers, and facility managers alike remain greater safety and energy efficiency. With sports fans tending to be early adopters of new technology, some venues are experimenting with proximity sensors and beacons for merchandising applications and to send messages to fans’ smartphones and to allow them to upgrade their seats.

Summarised from IEC e-tech.

Published in energy.