AS Roma to develop video tracking with Acronis AI expertise

Italian football club will get variable-price ticketing using artificial intelligence expertise to develop systems. It has also deployed Acronis cloud backup

Italian top flight football club AS Roma has partnered with Acronis to develop artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning-driven variable-price ticketing and a video tracking system for players in its academy and women’s section.

The move came alongside AS Roma’s deployment of Acronis cloud backup to protect 230TB of data.  

The club has deployed Acronis Cyber Backup to protect its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, historical archive and production systems, including cloud-to-cloud backup of Microsoft 365.

Technology director Fabrizio Preti said this was necessary, despite Microsoft providing some protection of its cloud products, in case of problems external to the cloud provider.

“It provides a level of protection higher than Microsoft,” he said. “You can get problems that are not related to the Microsoft part of the service that might make it difficult to restore the full data.”

AS Roma will store about 230TB of backups in the Acronis cloud, with growth of 10% a year planned.

Meanwhile, the club – whose first team lay fifth in Serie A when the football season was suspended due to Covid-19 – has partnered with Acronis, which will provide AI/machine learning expertise for projects in two areas. These are the development of a dynamic price ticketing system and a home-grown video statistics capture for Roma’s academy and women’s football setups.

The club has a team of data scientists that collect, normalise and analyse data for it. When it comes to ticketing, the club ends up with about 30 columns of data that can vary by ticketing product.

The aim is that Acronis AI/machine learning expertise will help develop better communications and promotions, as well as variable pricing, said Preti.

“Tickets can be subject to a number of transactions – buying, deleting, changes in ownership,” he said. “What we want is to gain a better understanding of who is buying tickets and when, to increase the number of tickets sold and bring in variable prices.”

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On the sports analytics side, the club wants to develop – with Acronis’s help – its own system to gain player statistics by analysing video.

AS Roma already uses services that provide this for its first team. With Acronis, it wants its own system.

Player data runs to “100s, maybe 1,000s” of columns, said Preti. There is GPS tracking data and bio statistics such as heart rate, as well as information about player position, and what they are doing in terms of speed and acceleration. This will be allied with information derived from video tracking, and that will require AI/machine learning expertise to identify players and patterns of movement.

“The system has to be precise in terms of players and their movement,” said Preti. “It will take months for the system to learn. We need high-quality metrics, otherwise it is not useful. It won’t be a service. We will own it.”

The project is expected to get to learn from about 12 matches a week that involve the academy and women players once activities restart after pandemic restrictions.

Both projects began in January this year. The ticketing system is expected to be ready by the scheduled start of the 2020-2021 season, while the video analysis tool is set to last up to 14 months.

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