French tech firm Atos Origin—specialists at running IT for the Olympics—will soon start building systems for the London 2012 summer games
With just over 1,000 days to go until the start of the 2012 London Olympics, the team in charge of the Games' tech is poised for the real work to get underway.
After a year of limbering up, Atos Origin (ATOS.PA) – the company leading the consortium of IT companies designing and building the 2012 Games' tech infrastructure – is getting ready to hit the track.
By the end of this year the consortium will have largely completed work on designing the IT systems and infrastructure for the Olympics' site in East London and the Games' 94 venues across the UK.
Work on building the tech infrastructure will begin in the New Year – starting with the datacentre and software to power the website where people will be able to volunteer to help at the Games, set to go live in July 2010.
Next will come the Games' integration lab, a testing centre where every core piece of tech will be put through its paces.
When it's completed in November 2010, the integration lab will simulate every event in the Games and test the core technologies that make the Games possible, right up until the tech is deployed at event sites in June 2012.
Tech that will be put through its paces at the lab will include the Games' management systems, which handle information on accreditation, transportation and accommodation schedules, medical encounters reports, sports qualifications and protocol information; and the information diffusion systems, which feed information on the Games to spectators, media, officials sponsors and Olympic Games partners across the world.
According to Michele Hyron, Atos Origin's chief integrator to the London 2012 Games, the team remain acutely aware of the countdown to the big event.
"You cannot be too relaxed because there are steps to meet one after the other – next year we begin with the full integration lab and in the meantime we have to prepare and finalise the design and start to build," she said.
Next year Atos Origin staff will join the London team fresh from working on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, bolstering the core team made up of staff who have been building the tech backbone of the Olympics since the 2004 Games in Athens.
"This is the exciting part – it marks a real change of pace," Hyron said.
"The biggest challenge in the coming year will be an increase in staff, we have 15 at the moment and by this time next year it will have grown to four times that number."
"Even if you have done it already, each time there is this excitement because you need to make it right and you cannot rely on what you have done before as some of the technical partners and the organising committee are different," Hyron added.
While the core network, security and system architectures the London team will build will be very similar to those for the Beijing Games last year, there will be improvements to the way results are sent around the world.
Media, news agencies and other organisations will see an improved Olympic Data Feed during the 2012 Games, which will provide a greater range of results, biogs and other information, and which is more customisable than the information feeds offered during previous Olympics.