Technology games begin

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am

Heavyweight names to provide state-of-the-art equipment

Thousands of experts will be working their magic to support state of-the-art technology operations at this summer's Olympics.

Top-tier sponsorship partners are providing crucial equipment, such as computer hardware, wireless telecommunications, competition timekeeping technology, audio and video gear, and a vast information technology system.

Lenovo, Samsung, Omega, Panasonic and Atos Origin have been preparing their Olympic teams at test events over the past eight months, and are capitalising on their affiliation with major marketing campaigns involving thousands of public relations and logistics staff.

The Games computing backbone is being provided by Lenovo which is supplying nearly 14,000 pieces of equipment for 56 venues in seven cities. Many applications will be running on Lenovo equipment, including management systems for the Games, staffing and scheduling, accreditation, transport, sports entries and qualifications, timing and scoring, and ticketing.

Technology sponsors will also have teams for the Games showcase events at the Olympic Park and their hospitality programmes will host thousands of guests.

Lenovo will provide internet lounges for athletes, coaches and media at the Olympic village. Lenovo and Samsung are also partners of the worldwide torch relay leading up to the opening ceremony on August 8 in Beijing.

'We will have a team of over 500 engineers at the central technology centre and in data rooms at every sports venue,' Lenovo Olympic marketing vice-president Alice Li said. 'An internal programme is also under way to recruit specialist staff to support the engineers, and to work in hospitality and PR. We are bringing our best people from all over China and around the world. We will need hundreds of people for these activities,' Ms Li said.

Samsung is providing the wireless telecoms equipment and expects to have about 1,000 staff working on promotions and support operations during the Games.

Projects include a nationwide road-show where products and services will be promoted in the Olympic Park during the Games.

The company's dedicated Olympic office of 20 staff, set up in Beijing 2? years ago, focuses on project management and liaises with local agencies and the organising committee. Another team in Seoul works on PR and the marketing campaign. The torch relay team has 300 staff working on logistics and promotions.

Kim Juh-wan, Samsung Olympic office manager, said: 'Mobile phone operations is a major project as all Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games staff and Olympic Committee members will use our WOW (Wireless Olympics Works) service on phones provided by Samsung in co-operation with China Mobile. When the Chinese team wins a gold medal, for example, this information will be sent to all phones on the network, and important news and updates on schedules and weather. The phones also have a walkie-talkie push-to-talk function allowing [Olympic Committee] staff to better communicate.' The Chinese market had strong strategic importance for Samsung, Mr Kim said.

'Our strategy has been to integrate more Chinese culture into our programmes and be innovative to develop the brand,' he said. 'Our message is long-term commitment to the China market through branding and integration into Chinese society. It's gone very smoothly. I would say speaking good Chinese has been a crucial element.'

Omega is responsible for official results at all competitions. The firm's comprehensive service includes the display of results to competitors and the public at venues, data handling, and delivery of official results for distribution by the print, broadcast and network media to audiences around the world. A team of more than 400 technical specialists will work at the Games, while the marketing team consists of about 450 people, 90 per cent Chinese, and mostly from Beijing.

Omega Olympic manager Christophe Berthaud said: 'The basis of success is a team of people with patience and the will to commit. We have skills in different elements such as venue management, developers, time equipment constructors, and good marketing and PR. We mobilise the complete range to make a perfect project. We will also have 1,000 volunteers with specific status, and we will outsource for hospitality.'

Panasonic will enable sports fans to watch the Olympic Games using the latest high-definition broadcast systems and audio-visual equipment. Its team consists of engineering specialists in event and sports-tournament installation from various countries, and senior managers from Japan. More than 15,000 television screens will be used, in addition to hundreds of digital cameras and sound systems.

Information technology systems for the Games are designed and built by Atos Origin. The technical infrastructure will link all competition and non-competition venues across the mainland, consisting of more than 1,000 servers, 10,000 PCs and 1,000 network and security devices. The company brings extensive experience, including leadership in consulting, systems integration and operations management.

This is the third in a five-part series on the Beijing 2008 Olympics. It is published once a month.