IT chief gets set for cost and timing challenges of London Olympics

Installing technology for the Olympic Games, London’s largest construction project, is a challenge of timing and cost, Pascal Wattiaux, director of technology at the London organising committee for the games, told a recent BCS Elite event.

Installing technology for the Olympic Games, London’s largest construction project, is a challenge of timing and cost, Pascal Wattiaux, director of technology at the London organising committee for the games, told a recent BCS Elite event.

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, on 27 July 2012 and 29 August 2012 respectively, are immoveable deadlines. Not having the infrastructure in place is not an option.

Timing for the IS team is particularly crucial. It must meet the deadline while aiming for the most up-to-date technology possible. Furthermore, technology cannot be deployed too early because of the huge costs involved, said Wattiaux.

The IS team will grow by 10% to 50% each year in the run up to the London Olympics, reaching about 100 staff at its peak.

Initially the IS team will utilise the systems and infrastructures that are already in place at existing venues, with changes being implemented as required.

By examining systems at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and working with the IT team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the London IT team hopes to learn from mistakes and best practice to ensure a reliable infrastructure is created, said Wattiaux.

To achieve operational readiness, there will be rehearsals deploying 15,000 desktops at the Olympic venues. In total, there will be 39 venues and 50 training camps and hotels in use during the course of the games.

Another major consideration will be the recall of IT assets following the games. Unfortunately, this is likely to yield only a percentage return, if previous Olympics are anything to go by. Recall has to be overseen very effectively otherwise equipment tends to “disappear”, said Wattiaux.

With regard to media broadcasts, the IS team is waiting for new technologies to develop in order to determine a technological baseline that will still be relevant in 2012. Technology will be “frozen” in 2010 to ensure that all component parts of the overall system will link together to deliver operational synergy.

Olympic IT timetable

2006 Foundation stage
2007 Strategic planning
2008 Research at Beijing games
2010 Operational planning
2011 Test events
2012 Operational readiness
2013 Wind down.

www.london2012.org

Information on BCS membership: www.bcs.org/membership

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