As floats were being built with high-tech features to dazzle spectators and revelers at this year's Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Internet technology experts have been developing the network of servers, computers and other electronic gear ahead of the Olympic Games that start in August.
Minor sporting events are being used to conduct test runs of the system. The goal is to instantly deliver results from 144 sports venues, help competitors and judges settle possible disputes, and enable millions of sports fans around the world to access a host of information about the events.
“So we are having a great amount of work testing that lab, testing the installations, all of the optical fiber networks that feed that logic leaving the lab from here to there and back,” said Gustavo Nascimento, the Rio Olympics' sports venues design manager.
A network of synchronized cameras will be connected by high-speed optical cables to memory banks in the Technical Operations Center, where 500 Internet technicians will work in shifts at more than 180 positions. Many of them will be overseeing the security of the official websites.
“We're continuously subject to various cyberattacks," said Adam Dolman, the technical operations manager, "so we have a team monitoring here making sure nothing happens to our systems and they're kept safe and secure.”
This year, for the first time, the whole system will be cloud-based, which means that possible breakdowns of individual computers will have no consequence on the system's reliability and speed.
Another safeguard: The center in Rio will be supported remotely by the new Technical Technology Operations Center in Spain.
Sports fans around the world will have access to information once available only to accredited press.
“Now, within a matter of seconds, people can be looking on the Internet and getting a huge wealth of information — not just who won, but the history of those athletes,” Dolman said.
IT officials say that in August they will also be ready to serve as many as 4.8 billion viewers worldwide.