Video: World Cup software leader talks to Computer Weekly

The man in charge of the event management software that will underpin the 2010 World Cup tournament talks to Computer Weekly.

Mahindra Satyam’s Dilbagh Gill, who headed up the project at talks to chief reporter Warwick Ashford about the challenges associated with building the backbone technology to support the event.


Read the full transcript from this video below:  

Video: World Cup software leader talks to Computer Weekly

Warwick Ashford: The 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament
kicks off in South Africa on the 11th of June, and for four
weeks millions of eyes will be on the world's best players
as they battle it out for victory under African skies. Behind
the scenes, making sure that everything runs smoothly, will
be Event Management Software, a specially created by
Indian software development house Mahindra Satyam. Here
to give us insight into what this all involved, is project
manager Dilbagh Gill.

Dilbagh, describe to us what Mahindra Satyam is building
and integrating to support the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Dilbagh Gill: We are essentially building the backbone of
technology for the 2010 World cup and other FIFA events,
this is the most critical part built, to which the event functions,
all parts of technology interfaces with event management system.
We built the backbone and about 20 modules around it to which
the tournament goes on, right from the ticketing part of it, to
accreditation, and as you know Germany had 160,000 people
accredited, and now we are going to be up to 250,000, so
significantly more who are going to be accredited, and we
have to ensure, through technology, that the right person is
at the right place, at the right time, that is part of our job.
Also in terms of the volunteer system which is another large
system, which we are also using on this particular backbone,
you have 130,000 volunteers. The difference in South Africa,
compared to other events around the world essentially is,
there is a stipend, or these volunteers are compensated, so that
again adds pressure on the system, it is just not scheduling people,
but it is also managing their compensation benefits, and other stuff
which needs to happen. In addition to this, there is a model called
the Space Material Planning, which takes care of around $1 billion
of assets which get moved around and deployed during the tournament
so we not only have to look at it being deployed, but the way it gets
returned back various sponsors who provide the material. The Event
Management System is essentially what we built right, ground up,
from the first line of code.

Warwick Ashford: This World Cup is going to be quite innovative
because in the sense that they are broadcasting in 3D. What sort
of impact did this have on you and your work, and how did you
cope with that?

Dilbagh Gill: One out of four games are going to be shot and
broadcast in 3D. I think the interesting part for us was this was
something which came in after we signed the contract, so we
had to up our game, in terms of some of our technology and
techniques, which be brought in, what we learned out of the US
west coast, where we were working with a couple studios et cetera.
That is one of the benefits FIFA has got, is a knowledge which
comes out of our other projects which be brought down to FIFA,
for the World Cup. The challenge occurs is there is going to be two
cameras at every position for the 3D television part of it, so we had
to do a lot of network overlay for them, in terms of making sure they
had all the right angles and in the test transom during the World Cup.
There is going to be a lot of bandwidth and graphical input coming in
from us during the 3D shots.

Warwick Ashford: This has been quite a long project. When was
the contract signed, and what were the deadlines that were agreed?

Dilbagh Gill: The contract was signed on 19th of March, so we
are slightly three years over it. With the deadline, that code
would be frozen on 31st, March, 2010, which happened, so we
were pretty much on deadlines. The most interesting thing with the
soccer World Cup, or FIFA World Cup project has been that we have
been releasing it in incremental forms, during various events, it has just
not been a big bang for the World Cup. We used it at the Confederations
Cup last year and many other FIFA events like the Club World Championship
and Abu Dhabi last year, beach soccer. It has been incrementally released
and we have been able to test it et cetera, so it is not so frightening right now,
until the deadlines.

Warwick Ashford: How did you cope with the pressures of a contract such
as this one, where the deadlines are non-negotiable, you cannot move them.

Dilbagh Gill: One good thing was that India was never contention of
playing the game, so we know to follow our country when this is happening.
We were eliminated before the prelim draw-itself, which is pretty unique, not
very often our country gets eliminated before the pre-draw. Thereafter, I think
it a process which we are known for, Mahindra Satyam; quality, delivery
processes, et cetera. Since we have been incrementally building this, there
have only been small bites which we had to keep releasing, I think that kept
us on track out here.

Warwick Ashford:What were the biggest challenges of working in Africa,
and how did you cope with those?

Dilbagh Gill: From Mahindra Satyam perspective, we had already been in
Africa working another project, so we had some idea of the lay of the ground
when we got into this. Out here, I think some of the challengers were we had
to work while the infrastructure was being built around us, in terms of getting
ourselves rolled out that ten venues while the stadium was still being built. We
developed a few unique features which we had to do, we had to use a lot of
mobility to get our work done. In fact, by default, we had created a mobile
network, which we did not realize we had done, which is going to be used
for a portable solution. Other than that, I think the other challenges which
we have in sporting events, which is not so unique to South Africa, but
generally around, is that we always work with different partners, it depends
on who the sponsors are. For example, in South Africa it is Telcom South
Africa and MTN, and this is the first sporting event they are doing, so
Within the three of us, its like the three blind men getting together to
do a sporting event, and I think we have done a pretty good job about
it so far.

Warwick Ashford: The proof will be in the pudding, and we wish the
best of luck with the project everyone will not see behind the scenes.

Dilbagh Gill: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thank you.

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