Rio Olympics 2016: Technology making the games green

Olympics is the biggest sporting spectacle of the world and it obviously leaves behind a huge carbon footprint.

By Muqbil Ahmar

Olympics is the biggest sporting spectacle of the world and it obviously leaves behind a huge carbon footprint. Construction, transportation, and other Games related activities take a huge toll on the environment, which is not only unsafe for players but also for the people living in close vicinity. In the effort to reduce carbon footprint, modern technologies such as Cloud computing are playing a crucial role. Even as the scale of operations increases every year, Cloud technology is ensuring that the environmental costs decrease rather than escalate, even as images get more high definition and the coverage of the Games more detailed.

Cloud computing helping reduce the carbon footprint of Rio 2016

In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the Olympics, technology, particularly Cloud computing, is playing a key role. Atos, the official information technology (IT) partner for the Rio 2016, has migrated many of its operations to the Cloud, drastically reducing the need for servers and consequently reducing its carbon footprint. For instance, while 719 servers were used during London 2012 Olympics, the number has fallen to only 250 for Rio 2016.

"It's a dramatic drop in our physical footprint," said Shailesh Chauhan, technical and IT security manager for the games' IT supplier in an interview. "Sixty percent of our operations have moved into the Cloud," added Chauhan.

The Cloud computing platform has been particularly helpful in providing the much-needed robustness and availability that are required for managing an event of such huge proportions.

“Cloud computing servers provide the capability to scale up, particularly in situations where viewers and spectators begin asking for information and services in ever-increasing quantity. Additionally, it is easier to scale down operations during lean times. Cloud migration always leads to reduced carbon footprint as compared to legacy systems. These are particularly helpful when the events are such large scale with simultaneous coverage by media of all kinds, including online, Television, radio, etc.,” said Somesh Misra, Vice President, Deskera, a cloud software provider.

Covering Rio Olympics 2016 is no less than a herculean task

Atos distributes the Games results to the world in a second, with the responsibility to share Games data, both through online and traditional means, at a quicker pace than ever before to any platform, anywhere. The Cloud technology is delivering detailed information about events and athletes to various types of computers and mobile devices used by commentators, athletes, coaches, and news organizations. The Games Management System is supporting planning and operations, including accreditation of over 300,000 sports entries and qualifications, along with handling the huge workforce and more than 50,000 volunteers.

“Atos' IT systems allow for the instantaneous reporting and beaming of 6,000 hours of Olympic coverage to the world through both more traditional television means and digitally to billions of laptops, tablets and smartphones. Without Atos, the Olympic Games could not go on for the hundreds of thousands of athletes, employees, volunteers, media and fans in Rio, or for the billions who watch the Games around the globe," said Michèle Hyron, Atos’ chief integrator for Rio 2016, in a statement. In May, the IT company carried out a rigorous three-day trial test of the technology used for Rio 2016. Its systems passed the major tests, including the threats of cyber security attacks and natural disasters.


Climate change and global warming are no more speculations. According to data released by NASA, 9 of the 10 hottest years in history have been recorded since 2000. All stakeholders in the survival of the human race must come together to mitigate the deleterious effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Every step, no matter how small, is one more step in the direction of securing the future of our coming generations. And technology, if used judiciously, can certainly play an important part in the collective resolve to reduce our carbon footprint. Cloud computing has made things possible at the mega-scale, even while reducing the infrastructure needed required to sustain activities. It’s time to embrace the technology for the betterment of mankind.

With over 10 years of experience in the field of journalism, the author is a technology evangelist and avid blogger. 

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