There is a lot of truth in the adage of what I was taught in the RAF and what has stayed with me in the form of the ‘5 Ps’ – previous planning prevents poor performance, and the work over the past 7 years that has gone into delivering and securing the Digital Olympics is a great example.
The core digital infrastructure, much of which was locked down months ago, has been relentlessly tested to ensure it can cope with the huge demand placed on it during the 17 days of the Summer Olympics and 12 days of the Paralympics. Organisers of the London 2012 games are confident that the investment in testing the vast array of IT infrastructure and equipment deployed across London and the Olympic venues, and recovery processes in the case of a major cyber attack, will pay dividends.
With all this data flashing around the networks it is hard to visualise the amount of data capacity needed to deliver London 2012. The Technology Operations Centre, the nerve centre of the Olympics Games looks after 10,000 computers, 900 servers and 1,000 network and security devices.
It is clear that the digital infrastructure required to stage the London 2012 is mind blowing. In terms of the telecommunications infrastructure a key feature of BT’s strategy has been the use of only tried and trusted products and services throughout. Coverage of ‘every London 2012 sport from every venue throughout the day’ by a myriad of global broadcast companies will be consumed by billions of people across the globe in both traditional TV format and online. Even as I type this blog our household is linked into the Olympics in 3 locations, two online streaming and a third watching a BBC channel on the TV. The key to a good experienced online is low-latency and I must admit that coverage has been good.
While Gerry Pennell, the CIO for LCOG, has suggested that Cloud was not mature enough for London 2012 he did say that “economically, and in the longer term, it would make a lot of sense for the Olympics to be done on a cloud infrastructure basis”. Interestingly enough, testing the web site for the Olympics (www.london2012.com) so it could scale to handle traffic from an estimated 1 billion people was based on a cloud approach with activity from servers across the planet hitting the site from as many as half a million virtual machines at any one time.
The Queen’s Jubilee weekend in June acted as a good ‘live test’ for the digital infrastructure installed across the city. Analysis and data visualization of the social media traffic flow for the Jubilee weekend also provided some fascinating insight into the movement of crowds across the city over the weekend. In the words of Ed Manley from the Guardian ‘Using these datasets we can begin to build a better understanding of crowd movement in space and time and, potentially, even start to identify emerging, organic events, outside of our current viewpoint, that may require our attention. It will be interesting to see how analysis of the data surrounding social media traffic flows reinforces lessons learned from June and informs preparations for Rio 2016.
The Jubilee weekend also gave people who work in or around the centre of London a glimpse of how difficult daily commuting might be. Many businesses and Government departments have plans in place for a ‘work from home’ strategy during the 16 days of the Summer Olympics and 12 days of the Paralympics that make up London 2012. The best work from home plans rely on internet access, laptops/tablets and secure remote access technologies such as RSA SecurID.
What a great opportunity to use the legacy of the Olympics to radically change working patterns moving the UK into a premier position as an information worker society able to balance productivity with sustainability and work life balance.