America’s Cup Brings IT Excitement to San Francisco

by Aaron Lazenby, May 2011

After ORACLE Racing won the world’s oldest trophy in sports—the America’s Cup—in 2010, team founder, owner, and afterguard Larry Ellison suggested that he would like to stage the next race in San Francisco, California. Indeed, the 34th America’s Cup will be coming to the City by the Bay in 2013. The news, no doubt, will excite sailing fans. And it’s surprisingly good news for city CTO Gina Tomlinson.

“For technologists, it’s really exciting,” she says. “We in the Department of Technology and many of our other city agencies across the city see this as an opportunity to show our wares.”

What she needs to do, technologically, is to support throngs of international visitors, the US$1 billion in economic activity, and the equivalent of more than 8,000 jobs expected to be generated by the event.

In the two years prior to the running of the race, Tomlinson will participate in a team that will be working on initiatives to extend the city’s technology infrastructure into the public space. She hopes to “light up the port” with technology that automates services for visitors, brings tourism and event information to spectator sites on the waterfront, supports video of the race, and relays real-time data from the ships competing in the race.

This is an effort Tomlinson does not take lightly, and she describes it in civic terms. “Those 54 days of the America’s Cup are an opportunity for us to showcase San Francisco in a way that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” she says. “We want to show the world that San Francisco deserves this honor to host the America’s Cup, and it makes us a venue for future international events.” 

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Aaron Lazenby is the editor in chief of Profit