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The 2016 Summer Olympics are fast approaching. Due to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5-21, the games will host athletes from around the world ready to compete for a chance at a gold medal.

And, just as the athletes have been preparing for the Games, so have the countless vendors, employees and volunteers who are handling the technology requirements.

The event promises to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area, in addition to the more than 3.6 billion viewers expected to watch the Games. The data and technology needs for accommodating them is tremendous.

To meet these demands, the International Olympic Committee recently opened the Technology Operations Centre (TOC) for the 2016 Games. The TOC supervises all 144 Olympic competition and non-competition venues. During the Games, the facility “will monitor and control the IT systems that support the running of the Games and deliver the results from all the Olympic and Paralympic sports competitions to the world’s media in real time,” the committee said.

New Tech

For the first time, Olympic Broadcasting Services will be broadcasting high-definition images of the opening and closing ceremony in virtual reality, along with one event per day, according to the official Rio 2016 website.

Of the planned 6,755 hours of coverage, NBC is looking to broadcast 85 hours of virtual-reality content through Samsung’s Gear VR, according to Sports Illustrated.

Payment company Visa, in partnership with Brazilian bank Bradesco, has launched a bracelet that visitors at the Olympics can use like a contactless payment card for goods and services. All 4,000 point-of-sale terminals at Olympic venues will be equipped to work with Near Field Communications, which the bracelets utilize to enable transactions.

Network and Server Support

Atos, Cisco and local telecommunications company Embratel are handling the technology needs for Rio 2016, according to technology news publication ZDNet, in addition to other key partners including Samsung, Panasonic, EMC, Microsoft, Omega and Symantec.

Technology provider Cisco will assist in handling network and server support at the Games. “All network equipment infrastructure, including fixed and mobile broadband equipment, IP routers, network security equipment, data center and network management systems will be supplied by Cisco,” according to the Rio 2016 website.

Cisco will be providing Internet Protocol (IP) video contribution and distribution solutions, along with networking and security solutions. The company will handle on-site production by streamlining the management and publishing of video content to consumer devices.

In addition, Cisco will provide a wide range of products and services to support 24/7 broadcasting from 26 venues, and multiple gigabytes of video content delivered online, the company said in a press release.

Atos, the official IT partner for the Games, is migrating many of its operations to the cloud, reducing the need for servers. At London 2012, Atos used 719 servers. For this year’s Games, the company will use only 250 servers, according to the Rio 2016 website.

Airport Connectivity

At the Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport, a new wireless network and mobile app were developed to ensure strong communication during and after the games, according to technology publication CIO.com. “The network was very old,” Alexandre Villeroy, chief information officer, said.

The new network offers a stronger data center and Wi-Fi infrastructure which will assist the airlines and retail partners, Willeroy says. The app helps users track flights, see gate changes and find flight information, among other features, CIO.com reports.

Transforming the Experience

Since the London 2012 Olympic Games, technology has continued to evolve at a rapid rate, from the proliferation of virtual reality to improved data analytics.

“At Rio 2016, Olympic sports will harness some of these innovations to enhance the performance of competitors and make the spectator experience more exciting than ever before,” according to the Rio 2016 website.