Rio Olympic Games: Practice for performance on the global stage

There are events. There are global events. Then there are the Olympic Games. Atos has worked as the official worldwide IT provider for the Olympics and Paralympic since 1989 and we’re fiercely proud of our record for faultless performances.

We were in charge of the IT and technology at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, an event with a seemingly key similarity with this year’s 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Both cities hosted matches at their nation’s FIFA World Cup football tournaments only a short time before becoming proud hosts of the Olympics for the first time.

But, just as technological changes have clearly taken place between 1992 and 2016, there have been subtle but equally important changes in the two years since Rio staged the 2014 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina. For us, perfect performance means thorough practice.

Since about the same time as Germany were crowned champions of the world football showpiece, Atos has been managing 200,000 hours of IT testing for this year’s Olympics.

Zero-defect tolerance

The world’s largest sporting event starts on the minute and everything must be guaranteed to run faultlessly from start to finish. Every result from every event must be guaranteed to be available for digital consumption within 0.5 seconds of the judges’ decision. Over 250 million security events are expected for the games. As official worldwide IT partner, we are charged with testing every process and application with a zero-defect tolerance level.

Atos carried out its testing between August 2014 and May 2016, including testing the technology at the 44 sport test events. We also tested IT systems, such as accreditation and the volunteer portal. These show the difference that only a few years can make – they will be managed in the cloud for the first time at a Summer Olympic Games.

Aim sharper

In the quest for perfection, rigorous, relentless practice meant Niccolò Campriani became the first Italian in the history of shooting to win an individual world title, securing both the Olympic gold medal and the current Olympic record in the 50 metre rifle, three positions, at London in 2012.

Such rewards take great dedication and focus. For the Rio games, which begin in just over a months’ time, we have also aimed sharper. We will continue our diligence during every event and at every venue of the games.

We have completed more than 80 applications and investigated and enhanced all processes needed to manage everything from accreditation through the actual results of over 300 events. Challenges don’t come much bigger.

A precise aim from all angles

Intensely high expectations mean we will get it right first time. Audiences, competitors, support teams, and even past record holder’s miles from the action, depend on our abilities to store, process and analyse data. They demand instant confirmations for track and field results and information on everything from transport links to volunteer accreditations.

Fast is no longer quick enough. Anything less than instant will leave room for doubt, embarrassment or error.

This is why we test from numerous different angles. We test in isolation by looking specifically at the individual test application. We test in combination by considering the application’s active interoperability within enterprise and beyond. We test in context by examining change in terms of usage and acceptance.

We know that in the Olympic Games, just as in business, detailed planning, constant training and rigorous testing are essential to achieve the best results. It not only ensures that things work smoothly under stress, it gives peace of mind and the confidence to deliver when it counts.

The ultimate rehearsal

When it comes to operational readiness testing there’s nothing that can beat a full-on, real-time, real-world rehearsal. This saw nearly 1000 operational scenario challenges thrown at the technology team. These were wide and various in nature and included a flood, network disconnection, power failures, changes to the competition schedule and security attacks, across the 22 Olympic venues.

Simulating real events at real venues under conditions very close to those which will and could happen during the actual event allows us to fully prepare all the key players involved to ensure a successful Olympic Games. Testing both the technology systems and our teams’ readiness is crucial to our success as the largest sports IT contract holder.

Atos testing for the Olympics is also a powerful example of our ability to scale resources according to need. For an intensive five week period, we scale up our permanent five-strong Olympic test team to a unit of some 500 testing specialists. Between the London closing ceremony and the start of Rio 2016, an extended team of over 1,000 application and process specialists have carried out our extensive battery of tests.

Strong track record

When the opening ceremony gets underway in the world famous Maracana Stadium we’ll be in full swing, with the assurance of months of testing and people with experience of IT and digital infrastructure at 12 summer and winter Olympic Games on every continent. We welcome the challenge of extreme scenarios and recognise that no deadline can be missed. We’re used to these pressured environments.

As well as thwarting more than 255 million security events during the 2014 Sochi Games through “extreme” security and vulnerability testing for both cloud and non-cloud infrastructures, we have also been entrusted with testing responsibility across many organisations in which there can only be zero-defect tolerance.

Just like Olympic competitors, we know operational excellence cannot be achieved without a deep-rooted commitment to practice. We’re proud to deliver the IT behind the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and we’re using that experience to help companies worldwide to perform their best every time.

Michele Hyron, Atos Chief Integrator for the Olympic Games

Image source: Shutterstock/Filipe Frazao