Vancouver Olympics take mobile route

Technology organizers for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver will use mobile technology for information flow throughout the event.

Paris, France-based systems integrator Atos Origin, global IT partner for the Olympic Games, expects to achieve greater access to real-time data through mobile systems. According to Patrick Adiba, Atos Origin executive vice-president for Olympics and major events, mobile technology such as local Wi-Fi connectivity and wide-area GSM coverage will play a big part in the Vancouver Olympics.

“While there will be more wireless technology, the main evolution is wider access to data on mobile devices so people can get it from almost any location,” Adiba said.

With this system, reporters covering the event remotely from their home country can access real-time data as if they were in the Olympics press centre, he said. The details, however, are yet to be finalized. Atos Origin begins its planning session next year, Adiba said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently awarded Atos Origin the contract as the technology systems integrator for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Olympic Games, for which the location is to be announced this year. The firm was responsible for the IT infrastructure at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and will be the systems integrator for the 2006 and 2008 Olympic Games, in Torino, Italy and Beijing, China, respectively.

Under the agreement, it will integrate all technology elements required for the event, including accreditation of about 200,000 participants and securing the IT infrastructure. Adiba said the accreditation process has the same security function as visa issuance, where applicants go through stringent background checks.

As a previous IT partner, Atos Origin has developed a system of monitoring the network flow during the Olympics. As it detects any jump from the network’s “normal behaviour,” an alarm is triggered. Each device connected to the network is physically identified by a fixed IP address, Adiba said. He noted that terrain is one of the anticipated challenges for the technology. With about 30 competition venues, some of which are held in the mountains, winter games often present more difficulties than the Olympic Games.

“The complexity does not come from the number of venues but more from the environment of winter events, where you operate in the mountains with factors like physical communication and telecommunications,” Adiba said, adding that contingency planning is key.

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