Olympics System Integration Deserves Gold

September 30, 2004
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Siemens Building Technologies’ Desigo building management system was used in practically all stadiums and all venues, including Olympic Stadium (above and below).
ATHENS - The return of the Olympic Games to its birthplace was a major challenge for Greece in many respects. With a month to go before the official opening of the Olympic Games, Athens was still one big construction site. In the final hectic rush, Siemens Greece also had to work quickly to get the technical infrastructure completed on schedule.

There was tremendous pressure to get the sports facilities finished in time; many projects were started late. Moreover, the games posed enormous challenges for the infrastructure of the Greek metropolis. Roads and subways were extended and modernized. Even the ancient monuments of the Acropolis were restored in honor of the Olympics.

Siemens was involved in the radical modernization of the infrastructure, with its Building Technologies (SBT) providing control solutions for practically all the sports stadiums and venues. In addition, the company supplied state-of-the-art technology - power supply and distribution equipment, traffic guidance systems, mobile phone networks, railroad systems, and a call center with software developed specifically for the Olympic Games.

Work continued right up to the last minute before the official opening ceremony Aug. 13.

Big Security Issues

The core element at the Olympics was the master electronic information and communications system C4I (Command-Control-Communication-Computers and Intelligence), which coordinated security at the more than 100 Olympic sporting venues.

Siemens, the prime contractor in a consortium, was responsible for supplying the C4I subsystems and putting them into operation. This project included five central and 29 regional command centers, the traffic management system, video surveillance of roads and sporting venues, the access control system, communications networks, the security radio network with 22,000 security people, and the automatic vehicle location system for a fleet of 4,000 vehicles.

Costs for the entire security package, including NATO support under Greek command, was estimated at more than 1.2 billion euros. The C4I was the link between the various operations centers.

All important data from the connected security units (police, fire department, coast guard, ambulance, and traffic management) were collected and coordinated centrally. The various duty units could communicate over digital radio channels. Operations centers could locate them on the monitor and control them if they were called into action.

In all, more than 50,000 security personnel were deployed to protect athletes and visitors.

"The way all the subsystems have been networked for the Olympic Games in Greece is unique. Never before anywhere in the world have so many subsystems been interlinked," claimed Michael Christoferakos, Ph.D., head of Siemens Greece.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Greece had to dig deep into its pockets for the Olympic games. Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis expected the games to cost a total of at least 6 billion euros.

"Certainly the costs are high," said Christoferakos. "But there's also no disputing the fact that the Olympic Games and the associated infrastructure improvements were a tremendous development boost for Greece. When all the infrastructure measures take root, it will mean a better quality of life for Greeks."

Comprehensive Solutions

SBT technology played a key role in the technical infrastructure in all the Olympic stadiums and buildings. More than 90 percent of the building management systems and around 10 percent of the fire safety and access control equipment were supplied by SBT.

SBT technology was used to control the hot water and cooling water supply, ventilation, and lighting. It also monitored the HVAC supply building and other systems (power supply, fire safety, and security). The company also supplied the Algorex fire safety system in the Ano Liossia Hall for Wrestling and Judo and in the Karaiskaki Football Stadium.

The Desigo building management system was used in practically all stadiums and all venues, including Nikaia Hall for the weightlifters, the Markopoulo Shooting Center, and the Galatsi Gymnastics Hall. It was also used in the main Olympic Stadium and Olympic Village as well as the main Press Center.

Consider: SBT Greece only has 26 employees. It was no easy task to get all the systems up and running on time. Another complication was the fact that all projects were started at the same time.

However, a new approach to large accounts has developed that is making inroads in Greece. In the past, customers used to systemize their technical infrastructure themselves; now they demand turnkey total solutions. Customers like to hand over responsibility for the entire project to a partner under contract and merely stipulate what functions the system should have. It is then up to the contracting partner to plan and implement the entire solution.

Siemens Greece was quick to spot this trend and built up teams and know-how so that it could successfully handle big projects as an all-in system integrator. This new business model, which developed out of practical experience as a solution provider, has been functioning for a year now under the "One Siemens" banner.

"One Siemens is an outstanding instrument for generating additional growth in new areas and markets," said Christoferakos. "The projects for the Olympic Games are a perfect example."

Publication date: 10/04/2004

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