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Behind the rings

This past week has been a busy week on the technology front. The successful landing of the Mars rover Opportunity and the subsequent full color images it has already sent back have been all over the news. The other major news has, of course, been the Olympics.

So what does the Olympics have to do with technology? Lots! From the touchpads for the swimmers to the systems that feed data to the commentators to the security system there was a lot of technology infrastructure in place for the London games. According to one article, the main network center will hold 180 techs at a time around the clock and upwards of 5,000 tech staff, mostly spread across the 94 venues.

But what about the spectators? How were the Olympics going to handle the large number of visitors posting to Facebook, uploading pictures, checking results and Tweeting from their personal devices? Prior to the games, 30 masts and one of the world's best wi-fi networks were added on the Olympic Park. Vodafone said its network saw data usage from the stadium equivalent to the sending of 400,000 smartphone pictures.

There were some rough spots though. During the cycling road race onlookers were asked to stop using Twitter and texting because the GPS electronics on the athletes' bikes were using the same mobile network. The volume of traffic on the network was so heavy it was keeping the organizers from receiving the timings for the race.

Bit of trivia: This was the first year the Olympic pentathlon used laser pistols.


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