Express News Service

CHENNAI: It’s 9.00 am in the UAE, breakfast time. As people associated with the Indian Premier League finish their breakfast and start out to figure out their day, one of the first things they do is wear a wristband or a lanyard that comes with an inbuilt Bluetooth technology.

This technology, in essence, is what has allowed all the players, franchise officials, catering staff and chauffeurs — some 2000 of them in total — continue with their life in the bio-bubble without complications.

If and when any of these people spend any amount of time in a zone that they are not supposed to or interact with people that they are not supposed to, an instant alert goes to those who are watching the movements of all 2000 on an everyday basis. Once an alert goes out, Restrata, the company that’s entrusted with providing this technology in the IPL, informs the franchise.

Botan Osman, the chief executive of Restrata, is taking this daily through an elaborate ‘what happens in the day of a person living life inside the bio-bubble’ in an interaction on Microsoft Teams and one thing becomes apparent. Like Osman says at one point, “the technology understands everything”.

It’s such a complex system that there are sensors everywhere to track the movements of everybody inside one of the world’s largest active bubbles at this moment. It’s also why even the stadia have been divided into various zones. “When a person leaves one zone and enters another that they are not supposed to be in, we get an alert, and that alert is transmitted back to the concerned franchise, it’s all real-time,” he says.

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He goes on to add, “For example, when the players and the officials get into the bus and go to a stadium to have a training session, the sensors in the bus pick their movement and we can track them.”

The sensors that Osman refers to are currently in ’12 hotels’ and ‘four facilities’ (the three stadia plus the ICC practice facility in Dubai) to track the movement of 2000 players and staff. The paperwork involved is also immense. “At the end of each day, we generate the report and hand it over to the respective franchise officials,” Osman says.

It was when the West Indies were in England (July) to play three Tests that the BCCI seriously began giving weight to the prospect of playing IPL in the UAE. At least that’s when the BCCI approached Restrata for initial talks. “I think we began talking sometime in July,” Osman says.

Considering building a bio-bubble one of the key pre-requisites to conducting sport in a secure manner, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), who used Restrata’s services to hold that series, have a contract with them till ‘next year’.

Rumours are that BCCI could again use Restrata’s services to host more events in the UAE next year but Osman neither confirmed nor denied it. “The focus right now is on delivering the IPL and that’s what all of us are concentrating on. Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch,” he laughs.

Osman also claims that the company has technology that could be used to bring the crowds back safely into stadia. In fact, the ECB did use the company’s Covid-safe fobs during a T20 fans trial as part of the UK government’s strategy to trial the return of spectators.

As the interaction comes to a close, it’s close to 5.30 pm in the UAE. Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad players and franchise officials are in the stadium mindful of interacting with zones they aren’t supposed to.

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