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The tech legacy of the Rio Olympics

From improved connectivity to skills creation, we look into some of the technology benefits that Games host city Rio de Janeiro - as well as all of Brazil - will retain after the sporting competitions end.
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Topic: Innovation
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1 of 5 Angelica Mari/ZDNet

Connectivity improvements

About 20% of the Rio 2016 budget went towards the technology infrastructure and a lot of that is around ensuring a sturdy communications infrastructure. Communications partner Embratel rolled out a 370km fiber optic ring for the Olympic backbone, with Cisco bringing in 77 tonnes of equipment, while all local mobile operators have strengthened their networks, even though América Móvil's Claro is the official carrier.

Rio's secretary of science, technology and innovation, Gustavo Tutuca, told reporters at an event earlier this week that the investments made to improve the city's connectivity infrastructure will ultimately benefit the general public as companies will use the improved set-up to provide better services.

Tutuca added that the public administration will also gain as schools, hospitals and other facilities have had their Internet access boosted as a result of the work carried out for the Games. However, the secretary didn't specify how many facilities actually benefitted from the new set-up.

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2 of 5 Angelica Mari/ZDNet

Equipment that (could) make a difference

Some 15,000 computing devices were supplied to the Rio Games by Cisco and the city of Rio has the opportunity to use the equipment if it puts forward a social project in the areas of healthcare and/or education. The kit was brought into Brazil under a temporary tax relief scheme and is rented out to the Rio committee until the end of 2016.

After that period, the company may choose to ship the equipment back to the US, sell it in Brazil after paying the tax or donate it to the city if an appropriate project is presented. The local tax authorities have set a deadline of June 30, 2018 for a decision to be made. Additionally, some 2,000 PCs purchased by the organising committee will also be donated to the Rio city government at the end of the Games.

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3 of 5 Angelica Mari/ZDNet

Future business center locations

The International Broadcasting Center (IBC), which is located at the heart of the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca and is the temporary home to broadcasting companies such as NBC, is an example of a Games location that could be part of the tech legacy to Rio.

The IBC is a top priority for the technology team, as news, pictures and video content produced there is being consumed by a worldwide audience of more than 4 billion people.

According to the city government, the intention is to turn the IBC, with its current bleeding-edge technology infrastructure which includes superfast Internet access and sustainable energy supply, into a business center.

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4 of 5 Angelica Mari/ZDNet

Smart city projects

Around the areas of Rio de Janeiro's port (Porto Maravilha) and Mauá Square, Cisco rolled out a WiFi network covering an area of 100,000 square meters. This network is enabling smart city features introduced by 15 startups selected by the tech company and introduced for the occasion of the Games.

The urban innovations brought by the new ventures include Internet of Things (IoT) projects such as the one created by NetSensors, which involves volumetric sensors installed in 28 manholes around the area. Another example is the surveillance systems by Audio Alerta, which detect unusual sounds such as gun shots and car crashes. Both innovations are in use at the Command and Control Center of Porto Maravilha and will remain in use after the end of the sporting events.

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5 of 5 unknown

Creation of IT skills

The 8,000-strong team that has worked on the technology required to stage the Games for the majority of the last four years is also considered as a significant legacy for the city of Rio but also all of Brazil.

"We are talking about thousands of people dedicated to technology, who are now skilled and able to work in mission-critical environments and would definitely be useful in a myriad of market segments," Rio 2016 CIO Elly Resende says.

In addition, some 300 young apprentices were trained up by Cisco to work in technology aspects of the Games, of which 100 are working on network support during the competitions.

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