Technology and the Rio 2016 Olympics

Technology and Rio 2016
Flickr/gregcullen (CC-NC-ND)

The Rio 2016 Olympics begin in August this year – the first Olympic Games to be held in South America. It doesn’t seem like almost 4 years since I wrote about the Technology behind the London 2012 Olympic Games, covering many separate ITGS issues such as the use of data logging software to improve athletic performance and the use of computer simulations for training athletes.

The Olympic Games are a great opportunity for ITGS students to examine many aspects of the ITGS triangle in a single case study. Topics like 3.1 Hardware, 3.2 Software, and 3.3 Networking fundamentals are all present in large quantities and many different forms, while there are clear social and ethical impacts for a wide range of stakeholders – ranging from athletes and their coaches to broadcasters and global audiences. Security of IT systems, for example, was a major concern for London 2012. With audiences measured in the billions there are also lots of examples for 3.5 Personal and Public Communications and 3.6 Digital Media. And, of course, an undertaking as large as the Olympics makes a great example for the HL topic 3.10 IT Systems in Organisations.

Technology in Rio 2016

Computer Weekly has a good review of how technology was used in the 2012 Olympics, including BYOD schemes, wireless spectrum requirements, and the human aspects of technology, while ZD Net predicted that 20% of Rio 2016’s $2.1 billion budget would be spent on technology. ESPN had their own ideas of How Technology will Evolve before the 2016 Olympics and it would be good to compare students’ ideas with these.

ITGS Student exercise: Before reading about Rio 2016, how do you think the use of technology has changed in the four years since London 2012? What key developments have taken place?

Volunteer website

Rio 2016 volunteer portal
Rio 2016 volunteer portal

In September 2014, almost two years ahead of the Games, technology integrator Atos had completed their volunteer portal, which allows willing people to sign up to work at the games (a similar system was used at London 2012).

This was a major technology milestone and a significant system which had to deal with thousands of requests, so it is a great example for studying computer projects, systems life cycles, and IT Systems in Organisations.

Testing Information Technology

With an event as big as the Olympics, reliability and security of IT systems are paramount. With this in mind, in April 2015 Atos opened their IT Integration Testing Lab in Rio. In preparation for the games they will complete over 200,000 hours of systems testing (that’s over 23 years!).

ITGS student exercise: What types of errors might occur in large scale systems such as those used for the Olympics? Try to be as specific as possible (for example, specific examples of specification errors, hardware failure, communications issues, deliberate attacks). How might these problems be mitigated?

SaaS, Cloud Computing, & new technologies at Rio 2016

The Olympic Technology Operations Centre (TOC) opened in November 2015. Rio 2016 will be the first Olympics to make heavy use of the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS), which should reduce costs in future Olympic events. Other new or emerging technologies include drones, wearable technology, social media, and virtual reality.

ITGS student exercise: Which new or rapidly developing technologies do you think will have an impact at the 2016 Olympics? Will these impacts be possible or negative? VentureBeat has some suggestions…do you agree with them?

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