Case study: British Athletics analyses data at pace

DataIQ News

British Athletics is currently pursuing a decade-long plan to build, develop and excel on the world stage. As part of this strategy, it has employed Pace Insights to support data and analytics services, providing insights that can be delivered on the field.

Athletes are monitored using a number of unique measured equipment. Highly-accurate, these precision instruments are often made by different companies. The consequence for the team is that data is in a mix of formats and is logged at different rates, making bringing all the information together a significant challenge. 

It has previously taken analysts several days or weeks to collate information. While valuable, this is too slow for any insights to be usefully actioned within a training session. In an industry where a millisecond is the difference between a gold or no medal, a week is simply too long to wait.

Working with Pace Insights, British Athletics has since developed a system that would enable all its data streams to be pulled together within minutes. The new tool has meant that, for the first time, British Athletics can review time-synchronised data from multiple data types and multiple manufacturers for analysis within seconds as part of a training session.

Pace Insights CEO Samir Abid explains: “For the team to get the most out of training data, we needed to come up with a solution that would give British Athletics the ability rapidly and seamlessly to combine data streams. Succeed and we’d enable them to significantly increase the value of their data at individual and team level.”

He added: “Despite our solution being a first-of-a-kind, we were able to deliver value in the system’s very first training session, with the coach identifying an opportunity for in-session adjustment. Our analytics engine works by rapidly processing performance data using cloud and mobile app technology.”

The solution was developed to give coaches all of the benefits of a cloud tool, but in one that could be used offline as well, particularly useful when out training in the field. The resulting “internet-in-a-box” tool gives the team instant access to the system via laptops, tablets or phone, is internationally portable and can easily be switched on at the press of a single button.

Barry Fudge, head of sport science and endurance for British Athletics, said:  “I am very happy indeed with the progress we’ve made. Generally and historically it takes an excruciating amount of time to get anything technological done in sport and Samir and his team have made huge progress in a very short period of time.”

As sports increasingly adopt new measurement tools and approaches, the challenge becomes not one of data scarcity, but one of data incompatibility. With Pace Insights’ support, British Athletics can now process all its data significantly faster and have it on hand in the field and within its competition environment, driving competitive advantage ahead of the Rio Olympics. 

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