HP today announced that it is providing the technology to track every registered participant at the 109th running of the Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathon, and plans to make race information instantly available to fans, friends and family worldwide via the Internet.
The official technology sponsor of the Boston Marathon for the 11th consecutive year, HP specially designed the HP Athlete Search System for the April 18 race.
The HP Athlete Search System is powered by a wireless network that uses HP Integrity servers, industry-standard HP ProLiant servers, HP iPAQ Pocket PC handheld devices and HP ProCurve networking products. The network dispenses information on the Verizon Wireless National Access wireless data network to provide participant updates at designated sites along the marathon route and at the finish line.
Race participants attach a tiny computer chip to their shoes or wheelchairs that transmits their location as they cross stationary sensor mats at regular checkpoints. The system allows runners to register up to six mobile or Internet email addresses for delivery of alerts from four checkpoints on the course: 10K, half marathon, 30K and the finish.
Over 50 percent of the registered field is expected to participate in athlete alerts; more than 200,000 alerts will likely be sent. Computer users around the world will be able to obtain up-to-date participant locations on the race website, www.bostonmarathon.org. HP servers will enable an estimated 7 million page views within the six-hour time span of the race.
"Pioneered by HP, the HP Athlete Search System provides fans up-to-the-minute marathon results and makes the race a truly high-tech experience," said Dan Socci, chairman of the HP New England Initiative, an organization of New England-based HP executives that supports and coordinates HP's role in the marathon. "It's a great example of the ability of HP's highly adaptive solutions, combined with the expertise of partners like Verizon Wireless, to meet the unique needs of marathon race fans."
HP technologies also will support the marathon operations center at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, as well as the race command post on Copley Square Park, runners' number pickup area, press registration areas, press rooms, television broadcast booths and in the medical tents.
"The Boston Athletic Association relies on HP technology to accurately track participants along the historic Boston Marathon route," said Dave McGillivray, race director, Boston Marathon. "Fans on the course and around the world will have access to the BAA network, getting real-time information while the race is in progress."
The technology behind the race
Real-time data requests to the press room and the marathon runners' database will be supported by HP Integrity servers running Linux, PHP and Sendmail. One of the Integrity servers will support creation and delivery of all alerts on race day, while another will be a database server supporting MS SQL Server 2000 running on Windows(R) Server 2003.
The entire Race Day Network of 17 HP ProLiant servers is configured in a Distributed Internet Server Array (DISA) architecture and connected by an expansive HP ProCurve network connected via Gigabit copper to an HP ProCurve Networking Switch 5300 at the core of the network and a series of HP ProCurve 2650, 2524 and 2848 switches facilitating the extremely high volume of data transfer.
HP also provides on-site wireless access for media attendees in the press room so they can work online and check race statistics using the marathon's private intranet servers and the marathon's media website. The HP ProCurve 520wl Wireless Access Points and HP ProCurve Wireless Secure Access 700wl series provide appropriate access to resources that are needed for the event, while still protecting the servers from unauthorized wireless access. The HP ProCurve Adaptive Edge Architecture and its security mobility solution add intelligence at the edge of the network to ensure that each user is authenticated at the point of connection so that the network security will not be compromised.
"Verizon Wireless is happy to team with HP to provide the wireless network for the 2005 Boston Marathon," said Bob Stott, regional president, Verizon Wireless. "I'm thrilled families, friends and colleagues of all the runners can track progress thanks to HP products and Verizon Wireless' extensive wireless voice and data network."
HP employees volunteer to provide instant updates along race
In addition to HP technology, HP employees are key contributors to the marathon, with more than 150 taking part in the race as volunteers and runners. More than 90 HP runners from 17 states and seven countries around the world plan to participate.
For participant location updates, family and friends are encouraged to approach HP volunteers in the family meeting area who will be clearly identified in hats with the words "I have runner info." Armed with HP iPAQ Pocket PCs, the volunteers only need a name or bib number in order to provide an instant update of the participant's nearest checkpoint location.
Also, at Athlete's Village in Hopkinton, Mass., HP will hand out 10,000 plastic ponchos to the athletes and present the HP "YOU ROCK" tour, taking souvenir photographs for participants.
On April 16-17, HP will participate in the Boston Marathon Expo at the World Trade Center in Boston, where runners can be photographed at the HP booth 506 with an HP digital camera and receive a free picture to commemorate the marathon weekend.
More information about HP in New England is available at www.hp.com/info/newengland.