INSIGHT: How Verizon assists IndyCar's Holmatro Safety Team

INSIGHT: How Verizon assists IndyCar's Holmatro Safety Team

RACER Magazine Excerpts

INSIGHT: How Verizon assists IndyCar's Holmatro Safety Team

There’s no substitute for knowledge. When a first responder to an emergency situation arrives on the scene, the more aware he or she is of the facts and circumstances, the quicker an appropriate response can be applied. And that’s exactly how Verizon has helped IndyCar’s Holmatro Safety Team make a big step forward in 2015.

Jason Clark, senior manager of partner strategy at IndyCar, says: “About 18 months ago, Jeff Horton, IndyCar’s director of engineering, came to me and said, ‘We’re looking to put new cameras in the Safety Team trucks, and we’d love to link them together so that we can stream and record. We’d also like to have live video links up to Race Control. Would Verizon be able to help us?’

“Well, Verizon loved the idea, and turned it over to their ideas center, and they came back with a solution. Using Verizon’s cloud technology, a company named Digital Barriers [an advanced surveillance technologies company] sourced the cameras and store the footage on a server, but are also able to display it to selected IndyCar personnel in real time. That was what was so appealing to us – being able to show everything happening on track, live.

“We tested the system at Milwaukee and Fontana last year in Safety Truck 1, and we were very impressed. Now we have it in each of the Safety Trucks, and we’ll soon have it in the Medical Pursuit vehicle, too.”

For 2015, each of the three Chevrolet Silverado Safety Trucks is equipped with four cameras – three static and one rotating laterally through 360 degrees, as well as up and down. That rotating camera can be joystick-operated by Verizon IndyCar Series race director Brian Barnhart to survey the whole scene. This allows him to not only see exactly where any of the Safety Trucks are, but also to judge when an area has been cleared of debris and damaged cars, and when all personnel are back in position and safely clear of the track surface. Thus Barnhart can estimate more accurately when the race can return to green-flag conditions.

“As well as giving Race Control a chance to have more eyes on the track in more areas than ever before, there are other major benefits,” says Clark. “The four Safety Team members in one truck can see what’s going on with another of the trucks, because each one comes with
a tablet that allows them to view in real-time what’s going on.

“So take Long Beach, for example. If Safety Truck 1 is parked at Turn 2 and there’s a big incident in Turn 3, they will obviously be the first responders. Well, if Safety Trucks 2 and 3 are at Turn 5 and Turn 9, for example, they’re a mile or more away, but the three guys in each of those trucks who aren’t driving see on their tablets what’s happening, so when they arrive at the incident and step from their trucks, they’re fully prepared. They don’t need to take time to assess the situation.”

To this end, Verizon has also supplied the Safety Trucks with a special audio communication feature, so if there’s radio interference, say, between buildings on a street course, each truck team remains in contact with the others.

Mike Yates, track safety manager (pictured, TOP), who works from Safety Truck 1, points out that the high-definition visuals provided on the tablets have also reduced audio chatter.

“There’s less chance of confusion, a lot less back and forth,” says Yates. “It cuts down exchanges to the essentials, because real-time visuals will have already put all of us Safety Team members on the same page at any given moment, along with Race Control and, if it’s a serious incident, physicians and paramedics, too.

“The movable cameras also allow Race Control to check whether there’s been any track or tire-barrier damage that needs fixing before the track goes green again. They can do that while we’re sorting out the incident, taking care of broken cars or helping the drivers.”

While Verizon’s live streaming facility enables Holmatro Safety Team members to make themselves better prepared as they approach incidents, it’s also changed up the long-term preparations – in other words, the team’s training methods.

Says Yates: “We’re always looking at ways to improve ourselves. So if there was a particularly major incident, now we can sync the three video streams from the trucks and see the big picture; we can carefully examine how we responded and decide where there might be an area to improve – something that makes us that little bit more efficient next time around.”

Verizon, then, has improved the IndyCar fan’s experience with the INDYCAR 15 app, but deserves at least as much credit for actively enhancing the safety of the sport.

• Every lap, every angle and every moment matters with the INDYCAR 15 app from Verizon. With access to team radio, onboard cameras and live leaderboards, you won’t miss thing. Find out more at verizonwireless.com/indycar.

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