But questions remain over Olympic legacy
London 2012 and Atos Origin have launched a technology lab that will test all aspects of the technology infrastructure ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games held in London.
The Technology Lab, hosted in London’s Canary Wharf, will oversee 200,000 hours of testing in what was described at this morning’s launch event by Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Chair as a "virtual Olympic Games".
"This process is about readiness," Coe said. "It’s about testing to the point where we know no stone has been left unturned. We can’t afford to let it unravel for kids that have trained and worked so hard to compete."
The initial stages of testing will focus on seven events, including athletics, tennis, basketball, volleyball and triathlon, each hosted in dedicated hubs or cells. The Lab will eventually become a miniature version of the 36 Olympic competition venues. IT systems for each event and venue will be put through its paces to ensure it’s all ready on time.
The 2,000 square metre Technology Lab contains 880 PCs, 130 servers, 110 network switches and will initially be staffed by around 70 people. When the games kick off, Atos Origin, as Worldwide IT Partner for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be in charge of 900 servers, 1,000 network and security devices and just under 20,000 technology devices including 9,500 computers.
Testing will involve teams, "preparing for the unexpected," as Patrick Adiba, CEO Atos Origin for Iberia, Olympics and Major Events, puts it. This will ensure people know how to react if and when something does go wrong, such as a virus on the network, late or unavailable staff or a fire at the data centre.
One of the main areas the testing will focus on is a new system called Commentator Information System (CIS), which aims to get results to commentators, media and spectators within 0.3 seconds.
Also introduced for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and currently being tested, is myInfo+. This is an online portal that enables accredited media, sports officials and athletes to access relevant information. The customisable homepage can include information such as competition schedules, medal ranking tables, transport news and sports records.
"This is one of the most complex operations in the world and the biggest in sport. It’s ten times bigger than the football World Cup because of the simultaneous live events," said Adiba at today’s launch. "We cannot change the start date so we have to be ready."
Another major focus for the testing team will be security, said Gerry Pennell, CIO of London 2012. "We will be the target of a cyber attack. It’ll happen for sure," he warned. "We’re working with our partners and government bodies to make sure our defences are adequate. Games have been attacked before so we’re spending a significant amount of time on security. Attacks could include a DDoS that affects the website or an attack that aims to bring down the entire infrastructure."
With an overall budget of around £9bn for just 17 days of action, the legacy of the Olympic Games is always a key factor in deciding where the Games should go. The future of the Olympic Stadium is still to be decided but much of the newly-built infrastructure will be used long after the Games have gone.
According to Pennell, however, the same cannot be said of the technological infrastructure, including the hardware and network tech. "There are no details yet on infrastructure legacy," he said. "We’re looking for socially-useful ways to use the equipment but these PCs are 2010 spec so that won’t be right for many uses. The education sector is a possibility."