The second of two technical rehearsals for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was declared a success Thursday by Beijing Olympic technology officials and Olympic systems integrator Atos Origin.
Unlike the first test in April, the June 11 to June 13 trial was a full-scale rehearsal, testing communications and systems involving all 31 Olympic venues in Beijing, along with venues in other cities that are holding Olympic events, including sailing in Qingdao, equestrian events in Hong Kong and soccer in Shanghai, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao.
The rehearsal, known as TR2 (Technical Rehearsal 2), simulating all the events held on August 13, 16 and 21, the busiest days of the games, in terms of the number of different contests and venues in various parts of China. About 500 scenarios, including power failures, food poisoning affecting staff, server failures and unauthorised network connections were thrown at 2500 staff members during the test.
About 80 percent of the scenarios were based on problems that have arisen at previous Olympics, said Jeremy Hore, Atos' chief technology integrator, in an interview during TR2. He said the rehearsal was focused on staff operations: "If there was a situation, would we be prepared? Operationally, are we ready or not?"
Hore said that problems ranged from simple requests, like adding a phone line at a venue, to more complex issues, like a power failure.
Teams at each venue are trained to deal with issues first and handle them independently, especially any smaller problem. However, if a larger problem occurs, then the Technical Operations Center (TOC) at the Digital Headquarters (DHQ) in the Olympic Park is alerted. It generates an electronic ticket indicating that there is a problem, the ticket is logged by a technician who then initiates a response, Hore said.
Problems are assigned at the TOC based on their requirements, such as networking, administration and Windows.
Hore said that communications -- specifically language issues -- were revealed during TR1. "Who do I communicate to? How do I provide assistance? How do I log the ticket? Who do I call?" were among the issues Hore wanted to tune up after the first rehearsal.
Also, problems do not involve just the venue and the TOC, but may affect other parties such as the media or a particular sport's governing body.
One complex problem relates to the disqualification of an athlete. A sport's governing body must first notify the other relevant parties, including the IT team, that they have authorized the disqualification. The results for the event must then be regenerated, and may affect medal awards and medal counts. All media outlets must then by notified, and all databases updated to reflect the new results.
However, just as not even a world championship can be a warm-up for the Olympics, even TR2 is only a small-scale event compared to the actual games. The Games will utilize 4000 IT personnel over 16 days, with 24-hour staffing of the TOC beginning in mid-July.
Hore said that any problems still not resolved during TR2 will be fine-tuned during the remaining weeks before the games begin.
"It doesn't mean I'm not stressed, but I still sleep. If I don't sleep now, then I'll be dead by the time the Games arrive," he said.