Located in West Des Moines, the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex will feature 15 different sports facilities over 300,000 square feet. Once it’s opened this summer, RecPlex operators expect the center to welcome about 1,000 visitors on weekdays and up to 5,000 visitors on weekends, said Shayne Ratcliff, RecPlex general manager. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but nearly every visitor across the complex will use one utility: the free public Wi-Fi network. 

(LINK: Previous Business Record coverage of the city-owned RecPlex). 

Beginning opening day, RecPlex visitors who log in to the Green Zebra Smart Wi-Fi Marketing platform, built by GZ6G Technologies, will also receive direct communication from RecPlex operations without downloading an app, including game updates, building emergency notifications, sponsorships and food stand announcements. 

“This facility is going to draw local, regional and even national events,” Ratcliff said. “We wanted to make sure that technology was on the forefront of this facility and wasn’t an afterthought.” 

The RecPlex is the first Iowa facility to implement the Smart Wi-Fi Marketing, which was first tested in 2017 on Governor’s Island in New York City. Since then, the platform has been implemented in airports and some smaller-scale sports complexes in the U.S., said Coleman Smith, president and CEO of GZ6G Technologies. 

“We’re kind of consultants with platforms to look at what they are trying to accomplish,” Smith said. “[RexPlex] is way ahead of what some of the other stadiums in the country are doing, so it’s evolving. We have strategic partnerships with telecoms that introduce our product alongside their product, so we are basically an added value to help them sell products and services.”

Visitors who log in to the RecPlex’s public Wi-Fi will join the platform without being required to download a separate mobile application. The platform’s servers are based on-site at the RecPlex, and visitor data is not shared with GZ6G Technologies, Smith said. Visitors do have the option to connect to the public Wi-Fi without receiving alerts from RecPlex to their devices. 

It remains to be seen how the platform will shape visitor experiences once they arrive at an open RecPlex this year, and GZ6G Technologies expects to work with RecPlex operators on developing new applications as the complex identifies the needs, Smith said. 

“We don’t look at this as a device where we hand it off and say, ‘Good luck,’” Smith said. “It’s an evolution. … We want to take baby steps and just try to make sure that as we get started, everyone’s happy. Then the ideas start through collaboration and making this a better experience.” 

Key to the complexwide platform is faster data delivery through 5G wireless technology and Wi-Fi 6 — considered the next generation of wireless connection by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which broadly represents technology companies updating wireless connection hardware. On 3G and 4G connections, the platform could manage streaming animated graphics across a broad, wireless audience, but it lacked the speed to handle delivering live video. 

“With 4G, it takes six minutes to download a movie that in 5G takes six seconds. [With] the differences between the speeds … software is going to continue to be developed for Wi-Fi-tied technologies,” Smith said. “There’s endless possibilities.” 

Now when using the facility’s livestreaming cameras, the RecPlex can pull play highlights as they happen and share replays on video scoreboards or host to mobile devices. Advertising from sponsors can be hosted on the platform next to schedule announcements and other communication. 

The RecPlex has a 3,500-square-foot e-sports center to support gaming competitions that are “nothing but data,” Ratcliff said. 

“We are set up to make sure that we can support not only the technology now, but five to 10 years from now,” he added. “We’re trying to put all the forethought into this facility before we open, so we can maximize that user experience.”