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Building the data infrastructure to give Finland’s top athletes the competitive edge

In a joint pilot project, the Finnish Olympic Committee, Polar and Tieto are testing a new system for gathering and analyzing the performance data of athletes. Ten sportsperson and coach pairs are involved. The pilot project is the starting gun for the broader development of an information system for top Finnish athletes.

The daily regimen of the sporting elite has always been based on the right sleep, nutrition and physical training. Today, it is also about athletes’ personal health and performance data, which is increasingly at the core of more effective coaching solutions. However, Finnish athletes currently lack solutions for the broad-based collection of data and its secure distribution to coaches and other support staff. Where data exists, it is currently held on dozens of information systems, which are difficult to use together.

A joint project between the Finnish Olympic Committee, Polar and Tieto aims to address this challenge. Together, they are creating a pilot solution for the collection, management and distribution of top athletes' personal data. Funded by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, the project is the starting gun for the broader development of an information system for elite Finnish sport, with the aim of using data to improve the performance of the country’s sporting elite.

Data supports the optimal development of individuals

The goal of the pilot project is to produce the first version of a solution to be used by top sportspersons and their coaching teams. At the same time, Finnish sports research is being developed to be more data-driven and top-level national sport directors will get a better view of the athletes' overall situation.

"Finland's success in top-level sport depends on data and how well we can utilize it to promote the optimal development of individuals," says Mika Lehtimäki, Director of the High-Performance Unit of the Finnish Olympic Committee.

"The solution calls for a secure, centralized platform where data can be gathered with the consent of the athletes as well as easily analyzed to support coaching. This is an area where Tieto has a lot of expertise and it thrills us to be able to extend that know-how to an initiative that will support the development of Finland’s top athletes,” says Fredrik Jansson, Principal Consultant from Tieto.

“Polar has 40 years of experience in developing training systems that meet the demands of top athletes and their coaches. Polar product development always involves top athletes from different sports, and our products are based on extensive scientific research. We strongly believe that with this future system and multidisciplinary collaboration, we will be able to better support Finnish top sport,” says Smart Coaching Manager Ville Uronen from Polar.

The collaborative project is part of the Sitra fair data economy IHAN project. It builds a new kind of data economy in Europe, where services can take advantage of an individual’s personal data with their permission. The Olympic Committee was involved in the IHAN project through a public application process.

“The Olympic Committee's project is exactly what the data economy will be in the future. It builds an innovative service from currently-siloed information sources, while ensuring that individual athletes are in control of their personal data throughout the lifecycle of the service,” says Markus Kalliola, Sitra's leading expert.

The pilot project of the Olympic Committee, Polar and Tieto started in spring 2019 and continues until summer 2020.

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