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Beijing prepares for 'High-tech Olympics'

Beijing prepares for 'High-tech Olympics'

Tthe IT systems implemented for an Olympics can transform a city.

There is also the Commentator Information System (CIS), a Java-based system which provides broadcasters with instantaneous, touch-screen access to results and athlete biographies, so they can relay information about events in progress to audiences worldwide. The IDS also includes the official Web site, operated by Sohu.com, and data feeds for media and sporting federations. The CIS has an additional component this year, the Remote CIS, to offer the same information available at venues in offsite locations, including in other countries, for broadcasters and news outlets internationally.

In designing both systems, Hore said it was important to maintain "a core that is strong, reliable and robust." Their main choice was Unix, although Hore said the choice was neither exclusive nor a rejection of any other operating system. "We're not using any Linux in Beijing. We may use it in the future, but we are not using it today," he said. "It's what's the best at the time we make the decision," which was four or five years ago. For that reason, Windows Vista is not used in the Olympic systems, although XP appears on many desktops.

Lenovo has provided 10,000 computers including KTS 660 desktops; Thinkpad T60 and E680 laptops; 5,000 results terminals, split evenly between the CIS and the Games intranet; 4,000 printers, and 1,000 servers, including models R520, G4Y, R630 and R650.

If the swimming venue is the Water Cube, then the Digital Headquarters (DHQ), the Olympic IT hub, can only be called the Borg Cube. A charcoal gray building at the northwest corner of the Olympic Park, its few windows, most of which appear on the building's east side, face both the Water Cube and the Bird's Nest, the Beijing Games' iconic stadium, providing unparalleled views.

In addition to housing the desktop hardware used by each of the 28 sports during the testing phase, DHQ is also home to a 300 square-meter datacenter, one of two used to handle the Olympics data. A second, identical datacenter is maintained at an undisclosed location, for redundancy and security. After testing is completed this month, much of the equipment will move to the respective venues for each sport. Each venue is designed to function independently, Hore said.

During the Games Hore will remain in the DHQ's inner sanctum, the Technology Operations Center (TOC). Staffed 24 hours per day beginning in July, 150 staff, including network and Unix specialists, will provide support in rotating shifts to operations at the venues. The Games' Incident Management System resides at the TOC, detecting any problems at the venues, prioritizing them and assigning support personnel.

One technology that will get a run-out, albeit a limited one, during the Olympics is IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). It does a better job of supporting applications like videoconferencing and high-definition television than its predecessor, IPv4, and offers opportunities for lower-cost construction of security networks and monitoring devices.


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