YOG's 'eyes and ears' up and running

Singapore Youth Olympic Games' Technology Operations Center, described as the inaugural event's "eyes and ears"--at least for IT-related matters--now operational even as it undergoes validation process.

SINGAPORE--The Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee (SYOGOC) has unveiled the operational readiness of its Technology Operations Center (TOC) as it hits high gear for the sporting event's Aug. 14 opening.

Yan Noblot, program manager at Atos Origin and chief integrator for the inaugural 13-day sporting event here, announced in a media briefing Friday that the TOC is considered "operationally ready", even as the IT ecosystem is currently undergoing a validation exercise which started Jun. 11 and will end on Jun. 20.

Noblot added that the YOG's IT systems has been deployed to support and monitor five sports at four venues during the exercise. The sports are rowing, canoe-kayak, gymnastics, tennis and archery at venues such as Bishan and Kallang cricket field.

"More than these figures [and the performance of the IT systems] though, is the fact that the information represents the very first YOG in the world," he said.

Noting the scale of the TOC's operations, Lim Bee Kwan, technology division director of SYOGOC said "200 people" are needed to set up and run the TOC during the validation exercise alone. About 2,300 IT personnel will eventually be needed when the Games finally begins and these will include staff from its 11 service partners--which include Atos, Samsung and Omega--public sector employees and student volunteers from local polytechnics and ITEs (Institute of Technical Education), added Lim, who was also at the briefing.

Of the IT infrastructure put in place to support the entire YOG event, Noblot said over 2,000 PCs and 170 servers will be deployed at the 25 Games venues. Furthermore, every PC will have to be set up according to one of 25 configurations carefully tailored to suit the needs of each venue and the sporting event that will be held there, the Atos executive added.

In addition, Lim said some 6,000 Samsung Omnia Lite smartphones will be preloaded with the "Digital Concierge for Singapore 2010" software, and distributed to athletes and officials for use during the games. The same phones will also be given to support staff, with the total number of phones needed hitting over 10,000, she added.

When quizzed about preventing possible information leaks, whether intentional or otherwise, from the pool of volunteers, Lim said there is "nothing so secret that we have to hide", even as she acknowledged there might be over-zealous students who may share certain real-time information with their friends via SMS or Twitter.

She added that the volunteers will be "too busy" attending to their allocated tasks, and the event organizers are not too concerned over such leaks. Besides, the Games' IT system will be "very quick" to capture and disseminate results from the events so there is no harm in their sharing of information, noted Lim.

Ng Kee Haur, head of programs for the SYOGOC's communications and public relations division, told ZDNet Asia after the briefing that there are access management controls in place, which meant that these volunteers can only enter specific venues and within these, only allocated locations.

Lim said there will also be a set of "Do's and Don'ts" guidelines for the athletes, aged between 14 and 18, to prevent any possible misue of their assigned Samsung phones to post inappropriate content or remarks on social media sites such as Facebook and the Games' own social-networking site SilkRoad.

She added that, ultimately, the SYOGOC is relying on the athletes and officials' "good sense" to ensure there will be no breaches in policies. There are also no plans to take punitive actions as "they are our guests", she said.