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Sochi, the Data Games

21 · FEB ·2014

This year’s Winter Olympics are harnessing Omega technology used in Formula One to transmit data directly from bobsleighs racing to the finish line, including information on speed, G-force and vertical track positioning. This utilisation of technology has made the 2014 Sochi Games the most technologically advanced Games in history. According to Peter Hurzeler of Omega these units were initially developed three years ago and the battle ever since has been to ensure that the technology is as lightweight as possible to ensure it would be cleared for use at the Olympics. Technology has not been limited to use only at the bobsleigh contest, however, with both speed skating and cross-country skiing contests also benefitting and the majority of results becoming automated.

The switch from wired to wireless devices has been significant since the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver and such bandwidth demands have been taken into account by allowing for three devices per person this year in Sochi. Networks are also having to cope and adapt to huge increases in data volumes since 2010 due to the streaming taking place on various devices. High speed networks are absolutely critical throughout events like these, not just for audience interaction but also to ensure that news reporters globally are receiving up to date information on results and competitor profiles.

It looks to be that our reliance upon technology and networking will only continue to rise for future Olympic Games and the challenge which seems to be emerging is how to secure the data traversing networks, especially considering that each individual country hosting the Games will have different applicable private laws to be aware of.  One of the prevention measures for security at Sochi is monitoring, if anything is detected as suspicious or unauthorised the connection is stopped instantly. As Patrick Adiba - Head of Olympic Games and major events, Atos, states "Russian Federal law permits the monitoring, retention and analysis of all data that traverses Russian communication networks, including internet browsing, email messages, telephone calls, and fax transmissions."

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics may be the most data-intensive and networked Games ever, but they are unlikely to be the most private.

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Posted by Sanita Karra