Sports IT Project Completed for 2012 Olympics
    2012-07-17 16:42:55     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Atos Company, the lead technology firm for the Summer and Winter Olympics since 2002, has now completed the world's largest sports IT project, which will power everything from television coverage to scoring in archery and fencing events at the 2012 London Games. Technology experts who will run the 11,000 computers and servers at the logistical heart of the Games say they are confident about defending their systems against any attempted cyber attacks.

Wang Wei has more.

 

Archers at a test event check out the facilities ahead of the start of the London Olympics.

But they're not the only people testing their equipment. Behind the scenes, a team of technicians is putting the finishing touches on a sophisticated data management and communication network. When an arrow hits the board, the score is fed directly through the computer network. It must be precise and reliable.

Technology provider Atos Company says the London Olympics will process 30 percent more electronic information than at any previous Games. And with a predicted global TV viewing audience of more than four billion, the company can't afford to take any chances.

Patrick Adiba is Atos' CEO of Olympics and major events.

"So the complexity of the Olympics is that you have multiple sports running at the same time. Some days you can have up to 17 competitions running at the same time, meaning having 17 different world championships at the same time, including issues related to sport that are weather sensitive like sailing or outdoor sports. So we have to manage this, organize it, plan it, and adapt in real time and with change of schedule, inform the broadcaster. So really the challenge is to manage this multisport environment and complexity."

Although Atos has experience organizing the IT infrastructure at other major sporting events, the Olympics represents a particular challenge.

"If you take any sporting event or Pan-American Games or Asian Games or any other sport event, the Olympics is ten times more complex than the others, just because it's worldwide, it's global and it's multi-sport. So because of that, the Olympics is about ten times bigger in terms of budget, people, in terms of technology."

With wires, cables and electronics it is sometimes difficult to comprehend the scale of the operations. Adiba likens it to setting up the IT infrastructure for an entire city and the demands placed upon it.

"Really like setting up all the system for a city, from the accreditation which is like the identity card of the citizen, all the way to the workforce management and all the information distribution systems, transportation. So actually, it's fully comparable to setting up a city with all its services, and offering services to all its citizens. And on top of that, it has to be error-free 24/7 for 17 days."

Two fencers are demonstrating just a small part of what Atos does. When they strike one another with their fencing swords, the hits are registered, and the score box lights up. For these athletes, precision counts. And although human referees are present to adjudicate, they must rely on a computer system that operates correctly.

But with so many computers and so much technology in one place, Atos is concerned about the possibility of a cyber attack during the Games.

So far, the company has carried out more than 200,000 hours of testing, including simulated attacks.

Michele Hyron is Atos' Chief Integrator for the Olympic Games.

"Security is embedded in our preparations for the Games from day one until the (end of the) Games and also during the Games. So we prepare very early by analyzing the risks and then designing our architecture to see how we will mitigate the risks, then implementing all of this and then testing. And during the testing we are using ethical hackers to make sure our systems can resist too."

Olympic organizers hope to parry any cyber attacks during the London Games. Atos expects about 12 million cyber security events each day while the Olympics are in progress, but with their secure systems in place, less than 20 per day will require an investigation.

For CRI, I'm Wang Wei.

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