IT key to Olympic Games London 2012

IT will play a key role in the London Olympic Games in 2012.

IT will play a key role in the London Olympic Games in 2012.

There are plans to exploit new media technologies such as Web 2.0, internet protocol television (IPTV) and internet-enabled mobile phones, to increase access and participation in the Games.

But the core network forming the infrastructure of the event will be "simple and industrial-strength". IT chiefs working on the project hope this will enable them to get through the three-week event without any hiccups.

"Simple is good," Stuart Hill, BT's vice-president of the London 2012 delivery programme said. "I don't think providing lots of gizmos coming up to the Games is a good thing to be doing. It's all about the athletes and communicating the results of events. We must not have anything other than industrial-strength services as the Games come closer."

Speaking at a Westminster eForum event, on the use of technology at London 2012, participants said years of practice means IT staff should be well-versed in creating IT networks to link the event.

Geoff Hall, chief technology officer at Nortel, said people who know the ropes from previous years will teach people who don't.

"The Olympics is a very practised organisation. It's about the fundamentals - they solicit suppliers who have a reputation for reliability. They also look for technologies that are proven, well before the Olympics comes around."

The networks must be flawless for the three weeks of the event, Geoff Hall said, and the fundamental underlying technology needs to be robust.

New technology, such as high-bandwidth broadband, will "undoubtedly" be available. The appetite for investment in new IT will determine whether it is used, "but you can't calculate the appetite for investment," Hall said. "That's particularly pertinent for today's environment."

Use of IT in the London Games is "on the right track" to be successful, but Hall said the project is still in its early days.

The CTO called for IT professionals to get involved with the technology at the Games. By looking at the applications IT staff use daily, and working out how they could be integrated with the Games' communications systems, the IT community could improve the technology at the event, he said.

Ben Gallop, head of interactive at BBC Sport, said the corporation plans to exploit technology to communicate event results.

Ben Gallop said: "I think it's worth remembering why London got this bid in the first place. It's all about making the Olympics accessible, and we plan to use a range of technology to achieve this."

The BBC will stream content live onto websites, provide videos on demand, use IPTV, high definition television and video and fixed and mobile broadband.

"We can use 2012 to do for digital media what the coronation did for television," Gallop said.

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