Wednesday, 26 March 2014

UCISA 2014 Kicks Off





I'm in Brighton on a lovely sunny day for the UCISA conference, with a view of a very sad pier from the hotel.

Started the day by briefing the exhibitors on how to get the most out of the conference, and then spent some time going round talking to various of our suppliers, and some exhibitors who hope to be!

Conference proper kicked off with a welcome from the Vice Chancellor of Brighton University, and then the opening keynote from Gerry Pennell, currently IT Director at the University of Manchester, but previously he was CIO for the London Olympics. I've heard him talk a couple of times, and always find it fascinating to hear what went on to prepare for such a big event.

Started with a great video of the what the Olympics was about, amazing quality and it brought a tear to my eyes!

Olympic delivery authority, delivered the infrastructure, venues etc and were publicly funded.
LOCOG actually ran the games, he worked for them. Privately funded, £3.2bn. Technology budget was about 25% of this.
Some special factors which made this job different to any other IT Director post:
Fixed deadline.
High profile and expectations
Only one shot
Life cycle of the organising committee, it had never delivered an Olympics before!
Process development and engineering lead times are longer than other parts of organisation.
Key clients/users arrive late

Scope of technology:
Enterprise systems and IT, accounting, HR etc.
Applications specific to games, tracking arrivals, VIPs etc
Large telecoms and data network
Specific venue technology, scoreboards, music technology
Internet operations
Results technology, most mission critical

Starts at field of play with sporting performance.
Specialised instrumentation measures the performance
In venue have results technology, which looks whether timings were world records etc, database of performances etc. Quickly can flash this on to scoreboard
Pump information to broadcasters
Send information to commentators


Everything gets sent to Central repository system. Coordinators with athletes biographies, weather, everything else.
Then to web sites via data feed, press agencies etc.
All glued together!

Most of software brand new for London.
Massive systems integration job. 56 different pieces of software.
20 different suppliers
110,000 different prices of technical equipment rolled out, often at last minute, for example, Wimbledon finished 3 weeks before Olympics
5500 km of cabling
60% of load came from mobile.
Andy Murray final was highest load, were providing real time delivery of results and public were checking on a point by point basis. Servers got hotter than planned!

Fantastic talk and insight into what went not, including lots of insider information about things that went wrong, cybersecurity and how challenges were met.





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