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THE CUTTING EDGE

Communications Countdown

July 15, 1996|JENNIFER OLDHAM

Many of the technology sponsors for the Atlanta Games provided equipment and manpower in addition to sponsorship fees. Here's how one of the trickiest technology demonstrations ever was pieced together by the various sponsors:

The technology backbone for the games was constructed by . . .

IBM, which has been working since 1992 to provide hardware, software and Internet access systems for the Games. Big Blue is also in charge of integrating the systems provided by all 10 Olympics technology sponsors. IBM's system features two mainframes, more than 800 minicomputers, 7,000 PCs interconnected through 500 data lines to 250 or more separate local area networks. It has 3 terabytes of primary data storage--equal to a stack of double-spaced pages of text 98.8 miles high.

. . . and is linked to telecommunications services provided by . . .

BellSouth, whose fiber-optic cables will transport every voice, data and video signal originated or terminated at the Games. The company expects more than 100 billion bits of information to travel in and out of the International Broadcast Center every second. The local telephone provider expanded its cellular system by more than 800% to handle expected call volume, which it expects to increase by about 25% a day in the Atlanta metro area.

. . . and hooked into security, transportation and event management systems . . .

designed by Motorola, which built the largest two-way radio system ever for a sporting event. This system features 10,000 portable radios and will be supplemented by 6,000 pagers, 1,500 cellular phones and 1,500 computer modems. The Schaumburg, Ill.-based firm is also supplying 1,200 alphanumeric pagers--known as OlymPagers--to the U.S. Olympic team and members of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

. . . and a television network known as Scarlet . . .

or Synchronous Communications Accessing Live Event Television--a closed-circuit network built by Scientific-Atlanta, Panasonic and BellSouth and designed to disseminate all of the video taken at the Games to various Olympic venues and media centers. The system, which companies hope will be the performance benchmark for distributing digital video, audio and other data in the future, gives the media up to 48 channels of live coverage from more than 15,000 TV monitors at 40 Olympic locations.

. . . and to a printing network . . .

designed by Xerox Corp. that features about 3,000 pieces and can print copies of the results of every event within approximately 10 minutes of the final electronic posting. Xerox has estimated that, including training manuals, news releases and other documents, the total printing volume from the Games will exceed 1 billion pages.

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