It’s only been four years since the 2010 Vancouver games but a lot has changed since then in the technology at the Olympics. The ratio of wired to wireless devices at the 2010 games was four-to-one, according to Dean Frohwerk, head of networking architecture for Avaya, an official IT Olympic partner. Now, however, “At Sochi this has reversed,” he says. “We made provision for up to 120,000 bandwidth-hungry devices on site per day, equivalent to three gadgets per person.”
Every day, reams of new data and information from the games are generated and there is one company responsible for making sure this data gets where it needs to go. This company is Atos. The job is so big that Atos began planning for it 5 years ago. Recording results from each competition is almost completely automated (and there can be more than 15 competitions running at a time.) Atos uses fibre optic cables, wireless networks and satellites to direct the data to the right places and more than 400 computer servers just to store the data and serve applications. The high speed networks allow TV commentators and journalists to receive information about the games in fractions of a second.
The technology behind collecting the results data before it is distributed is also cutting edge. Omega, the official timekeeper for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, began working on a technology three years ago that is capable of transmitting speed, acceleration, G-force and vertical track positioning data during bobsleigh runs, but also compact enough to be practical. A version of this technology has been used in Formula One racing but it has never been compact enough to be used in the games until now. Every Olympic athlete is meticulously monitored: cross-country skiers are tracked by GPS technology, while speed skaters’ times are measured to the nearest thousandth of a second using light beams on the surface of the ice at the finish line.
Enjoy the last few days of the 2014 Sochi Olympics games–and we hope that knowing a little about the data infrastructure iceberg beneath the games will just increase your wonder!