[size=1.2em]The London Olympics organisation committee kicked off 200,000 hours of testing today in its 2,000m2
testing lab in Canary Wharf.
[size=1.2em]Led by London Olympics CIO Gerry Pennell, a team of up to 70 people will test all the software in the laboratory. The lab is split into over 50 individual cells that each focus on the software underpinning a different testing job. For instance, there are 35 cells testing the software for different Olympic sports.
[size=1.2em]When the lab has finished testing, the team will transfer all the software and the hardware to the Olympic venues for onsite testing.
[size=1.2em]The technology runs everything, from the timing of track events to the logistics of getting athletes around.
[size=1.2em]Gerry Pennell has experience of major sporting events and was previously director of technology for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
[size=1.2em]It is not possible to prepare for every eventuality in an event of the size of the Olympics. Former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe, who chairs the London Olympics planning committee, said the test team had to attempt to prepare for the worst. "We know things will happen that we cannot plan for, so we have to get our teams ready."
[size=1.2em]The security of data is a top priority
. According to supplier Atos Origin, when it ran the IT at the last Olympic Games in Beijing, there were between 12 and 14 million data security events that needed to be checked-out every day.
[size=1.2em]The testing phase comes after two years' work has been completed. The Olympic IT team completed the software designs in 2009 and produced the software in 2010. This year will see the testing phase with the operation phase next year.
[size=1.2em]Some of the software, such as the volunteer portal, are already up and running.
[size=1.2em]By the time of the Olympic Games in summer 2012, over 5,000 people would have been involved in the creation and implementation of the technology that underpins the sporting event.
[size=1.2em]The Olympics IT is being delivered by multiple suppliers. As a result, Pennell's task is managing and integrating the contribution of multiple suppliers, with support from the Olympics main IT partner Atos Origin. He said he is used to managing multiple outsourced service providers, because that is the model that his previous employer, CFS, uses. [size=1.2em]Atos Origin first became involved in Olympic IT in 1992
and by the 2004 Olympic Games it was the main partner. It is already planning for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.
[size=1.2em]Because Atos has been working on the Olympics for nearly 20 years it has been able to innovate. For example next year's games will see the Olympic data feed data in a standard format for the first time. Athletes, the media and officials will have a mobile application with bespoke content and a system that feeds information to commentators in real-time will be introduced.
[size=1.2em]Planning and implementing IT in any major project is challenging to say the least. Problems and delays can cost millions of pounds. The Olympic IT team cannot afford any delays and the reputation of an entire nation rests on its success in 2012. But Pennell, who was at the IT helm of Cooperative Financial Services (CFS)
during the recent banking crisis, says: "Being a CIO at a bank during the credit crunch was good preparation for a project like this."
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