The Local Organizing Committee of the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2015 (LOC) underwent a costly core infrastructure upgrade to accommodate much more digital capacity in and around the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium over the two days of competition of the world relays.
Having experienced a number of challenges last year, Senior Director of Technology for the LOC Michaelangelo Cartwright said that it was vital that they improve in certain areas, particularly by widening their scope. As it relates to communications, telecommunications, electricity, cellular services and wireless services, the reach has been significantly broadened. Their capacity for digital information has increased from one gigabyte to 10 gigabytes for this particular event.
It’s all a part of the “Bahamazing” experience that will be had by all, said Cartwright.
“The IAAF provides the guidelines and framework. We just carry out the installation and facilitate them as much as possible,” said Cartwright. “It’s very tedious because of the scope of what we do. When the average person thinks about track and field, they don’t think about the technology aspect. They think about the runners on the track, but there is a significant amount of technology involved in that process. From the time the gun is sounded to the time when the athlete crosses the finish line, there is some degree of technology involved.
“From the standpoint of a year ago, we really understood the preparation guidelines that were expected of us, the time delivery and how best to go about planning for this event. If you look at our performance from a year ago, there were really no complaints. The big reason for that was time and planning. We had a significant amount of time to get enough infrastructure rolled into the stadium to accommodate the additional patrons for this event. It’s just about doing things on a grander scale this year.”
Over 1,000 athletes, coaches and officials are expected to be here in The Bahamas for the second running of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Relays. Quite frankly, about 20,000 people are expected to be in the vicinity of the stadium each day. There is just a week remaining, May 2 and 3 at the stadium.
“We know that we had some challenges with cell services with CARIFTA and at last year’s world relays, so that was one of the focal points this year,” said Cartwright. “As opposed to feeding from the towers within the community, we are going to be feeding from towers that are within the stadium. That’s something new, and we’re hoping that it provides relief for the patrons who are going to be attending this event.
“One of the things that we are looking at implementing this year is Triple Play, where we are making the stadium ready for voice, video and data. Also, last year, there was a lot of cable infrastructure because wireless could sometimes be very unreliable. We’re looking at continuing that this year. The cable infrastructure in the media tribunes, for example, was really put in place so that we could have a more robust and reliable system. We’re feeding about 800 megabytes of internet access into the stadium.”
Concerning the wireless set-up for this event, Cartwright said that they are going global with that as well, as they are brining in the same vendor who installed the wireless system at last year’s International Federation of Association Football’s (FIFA) World Cup.
“We wanted to be as robust and capable as possible, so they are doing the wireless for this event. When you talk about a FIFA event where you have hundreds of thousands of patrons, there are few events that are as large as that,” said Cartwright. “When we saw what they were able to do at the FIFA World Cup, it was our intention to contract them and see if they can do the same thing here. You can’t plan for everything, but our aim is to eliminate as much issues and challenges as possible, and the ones that do arise, we want to be in a position to resolve those issues as quickly as possible.”
Cartwright has 60-plus persons working along with him, whether they are audio engineers, technical suppliers, IT (Information Technology) personnel, on computer set-ups, network set-ups, telecommunications, or wireless just to name a few. IAAF partners Canon and Seiko will be bringing in their own equipment, but Cartwright said that they have to facilitate them as much as possible.
“We have to ensure that all of their requirements are met,” he said. “Whatever on-ground resources are required, we basically provide those for them whether it is physical health, or infrastructure or whatever. Basically, we have to conform to international standards in everything that we do.
“So far, it’s been very exciting. I am one who likes challenges. We had little difficulty overcoming the challenges last year. This year, we’ve had much more time to plan and prepare, so I don’t think that we’ll experience much difficulties this year. The experience has certainly been a delightful one. I’m excited and looking forward to this event and again in 2017.”
Over 100 journalists from around the world are expected to be in town to cover the world relays. Cartwright said that they will have access to local area network (LAN) and WiFi internet services at both the main media center and the press tribunes inside the stadium, and also at the main media hotel. In fact, their reach will extend to all of the hotels where the athletes, media and IAAF executive members are staying.
“A big part of what we do for this event is media related,” said Cartwright. “The goal is to accommodate a greater number of media personnel this year. Last year, we saw the ‘Bahamazing’ experience with this event, and now, we really want to enhance that. We’re setting up more equipment and providing more services. We’re doing some very exciting things such as creating digital signage, event schedules, bus schedules, and there will be an actual video feed from the competition venue. That is some thing that is new to this event this year,” he added.
The main media center will have all of the amenities which are necessary for journalists to do their jobs effectively, and the press tribunes are outfitted with about 150 work stations inclusive of television monitors and Commentary Information System (CIS) touch screen devices.
Cartwright, who has been involved in technology for over 20 years, said that he has certainly grown to love track and field from just being around it. He served as a technical consultant at last year’s world relays.
“Even though I don’t get to watch it much during the event, it’s exciting to be a part of this whole process and to be working with such a high-level meet,” he said. “This year, I think we’ve done enough to really show what our capabilities are. I just hope that everyone will be happy with what we have delivered. It’s going to be vastly different from a year ago, and the way that it is being delivered is very different. I have to give credit to my team. It’s a phenomenal group.
“When people talk about this ‘Bahamazing’ experience, it’s almost always about the people or the culture, but from a technology perspective what we wanted to do was add on to what was done last year. For us, that would be creating the ‘Bahamazing’ experience. We want to bring a new flare to this event.”
With just about a week remaining before the grand event, Cartwright said that all signs are positive in terms of their preparedness. Their deadline was actually last weekend, for the staging of the Bahamas High School All-Star Relays.
“We strived to be early. Everything was in place for last weekend, and it was just a matter of testing it,” said Cartwright. “We are definitely on target and are really excited to be able to deliver another ‘Bahamazing’ experience for our visitors.”
The junior segment of the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2015 will get underway at 5 p.m. on both days of competition, and the main show will commence at 7 p.m. each evening. Tickets for the event are still available, but are disappearing rapidly. They can be obtained online at www.bahamasworldrelays.org or at the box office at the national stadium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
There are now just eight days remaining until the staging of the grandest sports spectacle to ever hit the shores of The Bahamas.