London 2012: IT Volunteers needed

Up to 2,000 IT staff are likely to be needed as volunteers to get the London games up and running, and work will start next year

Planning for the technology infrastructure that will underpin the London Olympic Games in 2012, including the need for thousands of volunteer IT staff, will begin ahead of the 2008 Beijing games.

As part of its newly renewed outsourcing deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Atos Origin will now be responsible for all the IT systems and support in London after the city came from behind to defeat the favourite Paris in a dramatic vote on Wednesday.

Alan Crompton, operations manager at Atos Origin for the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, said that planning for the London Games will begin about a year before the Beijing Olympics.

"We will start to communicate with the organising committee about security, games management systems, accreditation and helpdesk services," he said.

Once the Beijing Games are finished in 2008, Atos Origin will then send its full front-line team to London to begin the rollout.

Crompton said the fact that the Greenfield East London Olympics site will have to be built almost from scratch will make it easier to build the IT. But he acknowledged that there will also be challenges.

"Venues and infrastructure are always going to be a challenge. Typically we are the first ones in and last ones out and any lateness in delivery means we have to react quickly to that," he said.

Crompton said he was "delighted" that London had come from behind to beat Paris in the final vote and that on a personal level it will be special to work on the Olympic Games in his own country.

"I've worked in Salt Lake, Athens and Sydney but it gives you a different perspective in your home country," he said.

Staffing will also be an issue, with the Olympic spirit of volunteering extending to IT support for the games. For the Athens games last year Atos Origin had around 1,400 of its own staff along with 2,000 IT volunteers who had to go through police background checks in order to work in low-level support positions.

As part of a separate contract, IT suppliers also have just two days to register their interest in providing some of the technology to support the planning of London's Olympic Games.

Last month the Department for Culture, Media and Sport sent out a contract notice seeking expressions of interest from companies interested in the provision of IT and telecoms services for the organisations involved with planning the games.

Requirements will include desk-based computing for around 250 users initially, with the potential for a user base of more than 2,000 over the life of the project.