When the games are on, make sure your business stays fit to compete.
You've probably heard about the road closures in London for the Olympic games. You may also have heard about the problems predicted by smaller traders outside the Olympic park, for example maintaining stock, and possibly even keeping customers. You're probably relieved that the games will cause no ill effects here in Bristol.
We're not sure that's necessarily right, from an IT perspective, at least, so here's a quick pre-Olympic checklist that may help you stay at the top of your game:
We expect there will be very high demand on the Internet: Not only will Britons watch a lot of the games on-line, but there will be enormous demand for isochronousservices generally (things that demand a steady flow of data, such as broadcast activities). It saps bandwidth, in this case particularly over international backbone connections. Some international services, such as voice-over-IP and videoconferencing calls may become very slow, or fail entirely. International email delays are unlikely though.
Obviously you can't control this, but having the fastest local Internet connection you can arrange here in Bristol will ensure you can compete. Business internet connections are different in kind to the typical domestic connection, with a greater emphasis on reliability and less sharing of the available bandwidth. If you're 'getting by' on a domestic contract, now might be the time to consider upgrading to a business service.
Staff watching the games on their desktop computers could be problematic.This may sound a bit killjoy, but it needs to be taken seriously. As with the wider internet, streamed video services do hog bandwidth. In extreme cases they can bring an under-specified office network to its knees, never mind the lost productivity from the distraction.
No, it's not an IT issue per se, but it is sensible to have a company-wide policy about this, or arrange for sites such as the BBC to be blocked entirely for the duration of the games, by correctly configuring your firewall and proxy server.
If you think that's unnecessarily cruel to your staff, one way round it is to have actual televisions in the workplace, for example in a coffee area, and make a feature out of events such as the 100m final. Make sure you have a TV licence for the premises though!
3G telecoms services will be stretched. If your staff depend on 3G mobile services, for example for email collection on the road, mapping or other geo-data services, there may be areas of usually-good coverage that become black spots. This should be temporary, but will be problematic nonetheless. In periods of very high demand, correctly-working mobile networks can drop calls or refuse connections apparently at random, even in built-up areas.
Encourage staff to check email, mapping, etc. before they leave the office - it may take a few extra minutes but could save a lot of wasted time in the field.
In an emergency, contact with staff may be impossible. Heaven forfend there should be any sort of major incident, but, if there is one, there is an automatic phone-management system controlled by the authorities. Once invoked, it clears the mobile networks of all but prioritized emergency-service users (such as doctors and security personnel).
Should an incident occur, there's not a lot you can do directly, but you can have a plan in place: If you or your staff have business in central or east London, or involving the Olympics itself during the crucial period, simply ensuring people leave details of where they expect to be (including landline contact information), will help enormously if the worst happens.
Even if everything goes smoothly, travel around the metropolis will undoubtedly be affected, particularly air travel and the Channel ports. Heathrow may or may not cope, but they have published this useful calendar of days to avoid:
|When to go somewhere else - by sea!
(a list of 2012 dates not to visit our principal airport!)
|16th July||peak day for Olympic teams' arrivals|
|26th July||media and sponsors' arrivals peak (opening ceremony -1)|
|13th Aug.||departures peak (closing ceremony +1) Heathrow's busiest day ever!|
|22nd Aug.||peak day for Paralympic teams' arrivals|
|28th Aug.||paralympic media and sponsors' arrivals peak (opening ceremony -1)|
|10th Sept.||paralympic departures peak (closing ceremony +1)|
|Source: Heathrow Airport|
Meanwhile, back at home here in Bristol, if you need help with the IT aspects of all this, talk to us, either on 0117 917 5040 or email Andy.Poulton-at-bristolitcompany.com .
We can make sure your Internet connection is suitable, and help you configure your firewalls to manage access to streaming services, etc.