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The power behind the Olympics

Relaying results, events and information from the Winter Games to spectators and the media around the world is an Olympian task.

On top of that there is security clearance and access to the venues for over 80,000 coaches, officials and athletes to deal with.

And then there is the co-ordination of transport schedules, health care resources and accommodation.

This year, a newcomer is taking over from IBM, the firm that had powered the games for the last 40 years.

New York company SchlumbergerSema will be providing the infrastructure in Salt Lake City and for the next four games.

Creating a network for the games is a huge job in itself. SchlumbergerSema, working with 14 other technology providers, has created 10 million lines of software code at a cost of $300m.

The network will use 32,000 miles of optical fibre cable, comprising of 225 computer servers, 1,850 fax machines, 1,210 printers and 4,500 workstations and laptops.

It will need a team of 3,000 techies just to administer it all. SchlumbergerSema's chief integrator for the 2002 Olympics, Robert Cottam, is confident that things will run smoothly, although he admits it has been a huge challenge.

He has personally been overseeing operations in Salt Lake City for the last three years and says the environment has provided interesting challenges.

"Some of the temperatures have been minus 25 Fahrenheit (-32 Celsius) and some of the venues are on mountains which take months and months to wire up," he says.

In those kind of temperatures, it is vital that the computers are kept warm so heating the venues has been a key priority.

News source: BBC Sci-Tech News - The power behind the Olympics

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