Atos leverages cloud tech to revolutionise 2018 Winter Olympics delivery

09 February 2018

As the 2018 Winter Olympics get underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this year's event promises to deliver several watershed moments – sporting, political and technological. While headlines have been grabbed by the attendance of a North Korean delegation, the Olympics global IT Partner Atos has also promised a first in the delivery of the games; that this will be the first such event delivered entirely via the Cloud.

After a tumultuous year on the Korean Peninsula, all eyes are now on the leaders of both North Korea and South Korea. Tensions between the two nations had been perceived as on a knife-edge, following several aggressive interventions from key South Korean ally, US President Donald Trump. The tycoon-turned-politician had bragged about the size of his "nuclear button," threatening North Korea – infamously – with both "fire and fury" and "total destruction" – but days later, North and South Korea announced that they would march side by side in the Olympic Parade of Nations under one banner: the Korean Unification Flag.

North Korea, known officially as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, offered to send a 230-member cheerleading squad and a 140-strong orchestra, and Kim Jong-un's sister, Yo-jong, who was promoted to North Korea’s top decision-making body last year, is also due to attend Winter Olympics opening ceremony, emphasising part of a deal that will see representatives of both sides cheer each other on. Putting aside their differences for the time being, the two countries are also due to field a joint women's ice hockey team to the games, a first in Olympic history for the divided nation.

One thing that remains unchanged at this year’s games is the inclusion of global consulting firm Atos in proceedings. The professional services group has been the Worldwide IT Partner of the Olympics and Paralympics since 2001. Atos was first present at a games during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics of 2002 and, over the last 10 years, has been integral to making every Winter and Summer edition of the Olympic Games a success, and will also supply tech support to the 2018 European Championships.

Atos leverages Cloud tech to revolutionise Pyeongchang 2018 delivery

Digital transformation

However, while it is a familiar presence at the games, Atos has announced a first of its own regarding Pyeongchang. For the first time, all games’ critical IT applications – including the distribution of results in real time like the Olympic Diffusion System (ODS) – will be remotely managed and hosted on the Cloud. Building on Rio 2016, which marked a first milestone in the digital transformation of the Olympic Games with the use of Cloud for the first time for key applications, Pyeongchang will be the first Olympic Games to be delivered 100% in the Cloud, an innovative computing technology which is becoming increasingly mainstream across multiple markets.

As well as virtualising key applications, as per Rio, all 12 venues will be virtualised on the Cloud. In order to meet this technical challenge, Atos teams carried out over 100,000 hours of testing prior to the competition to deliver real time results (0.3 of a second) to the world’s media for all 15 disciplines and 102 events. Before this landmark change, ad hoc infrastructures had to be built for each local venue, and the new system opens a host of possibilities for more expansive and efficient coverage of future games, and the remote configuration of PyeongChang 2018 will be replicated for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Asia, namely 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Speaking last year, when the cloud plans were first announced, Patrick Adiba, Chief Commercial Officer - Olympics & Major Events at Atos, said, “Performing all the testing remotely via the Atos Cloud strengthens our motivation to deliver our personal best to ensure a successful Games in 2018 and share in the PyeongChang 2018 slogan: Passion. Connected.”

Hee-beom Lee, President, PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee, added, “We are dedicated to make the 2018 Winter Games the most digital Games ever and are thrilled to be working with Atos, the Worldwide IT Partner of the IOC. We really value the fact that we are able to rely on Atos’ expertise gained from delivering eight previous Games.”



How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.