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Photos: The tech behind the Olympic Games

Behind the scenes to see IT preparations for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics...
By Andy McCue, Contributor on
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Behind the scenes to see IT preparations for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics...

The city of Turin close to the Alps in the north of Italy is gearing up to host the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, starting on 10 February. The immovable deadline and the high technical resilience and security needed means this is not a typical IT project. It takes double the amount of testing - 100,000 man hours - and costs 20 per cent more than a similar scale business project would. The final technical rehearsal is due to take place later this month.

Photo: Andy McCue

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Biometric fingerprint-controlled door locks will guard entry to the Olympics IT control room run by the International Olympic Committee's technology partner Atos Origin. From here they will monitor the technology infrastructure and all the systems controlling accreditation, security and competition data and results for commentators and the media. A team of 250 Atos Origin staff will run the operation supported by some 800 IT volunteers.

Photo: Andy McCue
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The nature of the Winter Olympics means the sports in Turin will be widely dispersed across 14 competition venues, some of which are more than 100km away from the city centre up in the mountains. Downtime during competition time is not an option and the Palavela ice-skating arena in this photo - which appeared in the original Italian Job movie - has back-up links to two remote data centres in case of an outage.

Photo: Andy McCue
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Claude Philipps, programme director at Atos Orgin for the Turin games, demonstrates the touch screen Commentator Information System, which provides real-time event data, results and background information to broadcasters covering the games.

Photo: Andy McCue
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For the Turin games there are 450 Intel-based servers and Unix boxes, 4,700 PCs, 700 printers, 1,000 commentator terminals and 800 intranet terminals - although a switch to open source is planned for the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics. Security is, understandably, a top priority and a range of antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection and other software tools ensure almost total lockdown of the IT equipment.

Photo: Andy McCue

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