OptaPro makes off-ball data available for Analytics Forum

Interesting news from OptaPro — Opta Sports’ professional services arm — that player tracking data from English Premier League matches will be made available to successful proposals to their Analytics Forum next year.  The data comes from Opta’s partner Tracab, which uses their image-tracking technology to generate 3D sports data for media customers (they are a ChyronHego company).

The news probably explains why the organizers extended the submission deadline to 14 December, but in truth, it’s not unusual for technical conferences to extend the deadline by a week or two.  (Some experienced submitters take this extension for granted more than a few times!)

I want to draw attention to this item at the bottom of OptaPro’s announcement:

Please note that the data supplied will be ‘anonymous’ and may only represent part of a match. The details regarding the data will be fully explained to those with successful proposals. This will not hinder your presentation.

I find the last sentence to be a bit curious.  If data will be anonymous and partial, won’t that hinder some proposed presentations?  Of course, those types of presentations have less of a chance of being accepted, but still.  I understand the desire to anonymize tracking data, but it is easier to deduce personal identifying characteristics from anonymized data than some might think.  For a further discussion of this with examples, here is the Wikipedia entry on differential privacy.

At any rate, I’ll try to keep an open mind.