Badminton horse trials are taking place over the bank holiday weekend from Thursday 2 May to Monday 6 May this year. Badminton is one of those big events that horse lovers from all over the world like to attend – and so do I. And this week, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at how it does its IT. Bear in mind that it has lots of scores coming from different sources, as well as lots of photographs and film, that all need to be collated and shared with the fans who are onsite and off.
Badminton takes place in the park of Badminton House, in Gloucestershire GL9 1DF, England. The house and grounds are owned by the Duke of Beaufort. Badminton has been going since 1949 and is one of the top three four-star rated events (along with Burghley Horse Trials and Rolex Kentucky Three Day). It’s also one of only six annual Concours Complet International (CCI) Four Star events. Three-day eventing involves dressage, cross country, and show jumping.
I spoke to Dominic Sancto who gave me an overview of how things are set up at Badminton – as far IT is concerned.
This year, scores are entered into PCs and these results are wifi’ed across to Windows servers, where a bespoke database collects them all. From there, the results are written out to flat files and distributed accordingly. That means that the flat files are used to update the Web site and result screens, as well as the Badminton app.
There are three versions of the Badminton app, one for Android devices, one for iPhones, and one for iPads. The app gives details of the timetable and start times, as well as results. It also gives news and social information, video and audio, a photo gallery, the course, the riders, visitor information, and ‘grassroots’ – the BE 90 Class riders (that’s a lower group than the rest of the competitors, but everyone’s got to start somewhere!).
As well as the phone app and the Web site, Badminton’s social media has a Facebook page, Twitter, an RSS feed, Picasa, and YouTube. The Web site at www.badminton-horse.co.uk/
has all the information that appears on the app and more. There’s information, tickets/hospitality, horses & riders, news, shopping village, gallery, and an archive. There is just so much information – it’s excellent.
When it comes to Twitter, there are seven members of the Badminton crew tweeting information, news , and comments about what’s going. You can find them at twitter.com/bht_office/badminton-crew. On Facebook, they’re at www.facebook.com/BadmintonHorseTrials. There were plenty of photos and comments before the event even started, and nearly 47,000 likes by last Monday. Not surprisingly, there are even more photos (including from previous years) on Picasa at picasaweb.google.com/baddershorsetrials. Like most organizations, Badminton IT has moved its movies to YouTube to avoid their own servers being overloaded. You can see plenty of videos at www.youtube.com/baddershorsetrials.
There’s also Radio Badminton on 106.1 FM – and you can buy ear-size radios so you can listen to everything that’s going on in the arena as you walk round the massive shopping village or follow the cross country course.
The whole of the IT is very well suited to the needs of the thousands of people who will be visiting Badminton this weekend. See you there!