The technology behind the Vancouver Olympic Games

The switches, smartphones, telepresence and Web technologies that will keep the Olympic games running smoothly and keep viewers in touch

  • Bell Canada is claiming the Vancouver 2010 Olympic network as the first IP-based converged network at any Olympic or Paralympic Games. It will be built to provide seamless telephone, wireless, radio and Internet communications services for fans, media, athletes and officials from around the world. A team of about 3,000 technology and telecommunications staff will work with volunteers and sponsors to build, operate and maintain the infrastructure, which will support 15,000 VoIP connections.

  • The Samsung Omnia II- running on Windows Mobile 6.5- has publicly been announced as the official phone for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Omnia II users will also be able to download Samsung's Wireless Olympic Works (or WOW for short) communications platform. This is free software designed to give users real-time information on what is happening, where it's happening, and when you need to be there to see it during the Olympic Winter Games.

  • Thirteen IT systems will be working together to support overall Games operations and ensure the protection of information from internal and external threats. The 13 systems include 800 servers, 6,000 computers, 4,000 printers, commentator information system terminals and Intranet terminals. They will be monitored by all of the Vancouver 2010 technology sponsors and partners from a Technology Operation Center (TOC).

  • The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) deployed a combination of 125 Sun SPARC Enterprise and 475 Sun Fire AMD and Intel-based x64 servers and Sun StorageTek storage products for the games' 13 core systems. One of them is an Information Diffusion System (IDS), developed by integrator Atos Origin, that will be used to compile and distribute real-time data such as scoring and timing results to athletes, officials, commentators, and media. For example, information collected from sensors on a downhill ski run will be relayed through the Sun servers for worldwide distribution over the Internet. Systems based on Sun Fire X4100 servers and the Windows operating system will be used to manage attendee accreditation, calendars, and VANOC's daily business operations.

  • At the heart of the Olympic infrastructure is an over 285 km fiber-optic network that will provide all voice, data and broadcast services. This includes 400,000 private radio calls, and 10,416 hours of dedicated TV broadcast coverage to more than three billion viewers.

  • is using Microsoft's Silverlight program to provide video and enhanced slideshows. Silverlight is a cross-platform Web browser plug-in from Microsoft that enables multimedia experiences. Viewers can access HD quality video of events and ceremonies, and control viewing through DVR commands.

  • Avaya will be providing the routers and switches and IP telephony gear connecting the computers, servers, printers together, and then to the Bell fiber-optic network. Initially, the switch/router vendor was to have been Nortel but Nortel recently sold its enterprise business to Avaya.

  • Cisco’s providing video support to NBC for the Vancouver games as well. Cisco's providing what it calls a "medianet" – a media-aware IP video network – for HD coverage of the games, anchored by the Media Experience Engine. The Cisco network will enable real-time editing of Olympic content by NBC personnel in international and domestic locations, and will allow gigabyte-sized files to be transmitted between locations and then delivered to TVs, PCs and mobile devices. Cisco Flip Video cameras will be used by NBC's analysts and bloggers to shoot on-the-fly video of the scene around the games. Viewers on PCs and laptops can play back videos on demand and request highlights, rewinds, encores and scoring results. Those on mobile devices will be able to watch video and view results.

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