Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Technology and the 2007 Little League Softball World Series

Wi-fi at a softball game? Why not? (pun intended)

I remember when my dad was telling me about the technology he was helping assemble for the Little League Softball World Series and thinking about who on earth would have his/her laptop at a softball game? Then I saw with my own two eyes, reporters and radio people taking advantage of phone lines and wireless internet, and then I sat up at Alpenrose with my own laptop and realized I was in heaven.

Thousands of fans from all over the world can now follow every game from first pitch to last thanks to real-time scoring. All scorekeeping is done on networked laptops as well as official scorebooks. I remember the old days (four years ago :) when my dad would radio me the scores each inning from the fields and I would update the website just as fast and accurately as I could. Never mind details like who pitched and who starred at the plate...

While I sat in the trailer at a computer, I was missing the action on the field. So, now there are five television sets around the grounds for the ESPN broadcasts, and for a closed-circuit feed of games. Overnight, the videos will be digitally captured for DVD sales the next day. So even when fans get up for a hot dog or to buy a souvenir, they won’t miss the action.

For the third year, an audio webcast will be available during the games, and then posted on the web for replay and download.

And back to the Wi-Fi: for the fifth year, the 2007 World Series will have a Wi-Fi network available on all fields to serve staff and fans during the event. There are four Wide Area Network Internet feeds that come in from the local cable company, and with the help of a company broadcasting from the tower of a local TV station on a hilltop about five miles away.

There are four separate Local Area Networks feeding the facility, and for the second year, telephone calls will go out over the Internet. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), provided by a local Internet Telephone Service Provider, will allow the players to call home for free as often as they want.

The games bring the girls together, and the volunteers and technology help to share this excitement with their families and fans.

Congrats to all who made it to the Little League Softball World Series, to those who fought hard and fell short, to those who dream about getting here, and to the moms and dads and volunteers who make it all happen.

Let's play ball!

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