It is a mere two months to the start of the London Olympic games, an event that has cost at least £9bn to stage, with a large part of that budget taken up in infrastructure costs, including technology.
But one of the most interesting technological aspects of this event is that it will be the first ever Olympics where social media is a part of the event and will help to form the opinion of a global generation.
It is true that tools like Facebook and Twitter were around for Beijing 2008, but they had not reached the ubiquity of today and tools like the iPhone were still in their infancy. Right now you can use Twitter to follow the chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee. You can follow the athletes as they train for the games and even ask how it is going. You can ask the pundits for their predictions and get involved in planning how you are going to watch the games – whether it is the big screen in Hyde Park or down the pub.
Can you just imagine how many smart phone photographs are going to be uploaded on the 3G networks around the London Olympic stadium in the seconds and minutes following the 100m sprint final? I guess there will be at least a million photos of that single event uploaded – how many more photos and video from London can we expect during the games itself?
London is going to be special for this reason. It is going to be the first truly interactive games where the people will broadcast the event – not just a presenter in a TV studio talking to passive viewers. This will be the biggest backchannel of conversation, speculation, and debate ever witnessed – and it’s all going to be driven by London, showcasing our capital city to the world.
Although we often think of the technology around the Olympics in terms of contracts to big companies to build communications infrastructure, at this event it is going to be all about the people watching the games, rather than those on the track.