Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shame on Indian Technology Power: Snag in Games website

The Commonwealth Games official website has gone for a toss. Far from being uploaded automatically almost in real time, the website has been painfully slow, often well behind private media sites. This has virtually shut down an important window on the Delhi Games for the wider world.

The mess is the result of an expensive piece of technology, the Timing, Scoring & Results (TSR) system, a key requirement in modern sporting events. The system was procured by the Games OC for a stunning Rs 112 crore, which is five times more than what Melbourne paid for its TSR system at the last Commonwealth Games. Experts here say it could be bought for Rs 35 crore.

Now, after a week of complaints and with just five days to go, Infostrada, which provides comprehensive statistics and sports information services at the Games, will now launch a new website solely for the media’s use. This cock-up is seen as a huge embarrassment, especially as India prides itself on being a technology power. But the TSR system tripped up every day in the week the Games have been on, forcing Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell to admit on Saturday to problems with the system.

USA, Japan in Commonwealth!

If you go by the Games official website, Korea, Japan, the Phillippines and even the US are participating nations! The Games are nearly a week old, but the errors are yet to be removed. Great Britain has been listed as a participating country, even though Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England are fielding separate teams.

FIND OF THE MEET SO FAR

Alicia Coutts of Australia
The 23-year-old won five gold: 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley and 2 relay events

IN THE RECORDS

Leisel Jones of Australia
equaled a CWG record tally of 10 gold held by Ian Thorpe and Susie O’Neill. Jones, 25, added 3 gold here: 100m, 200m breaststroke & 4x100 medley relay. She had won 3 gold at the 2002 and 4 at the 2006 Games

OTHER WINNERS

SILVER (1) Sania Mirza loses in tennis final
BRONZE (4) Suma Shirur and Kavita Yadav
(women’s 10m air rifle pairs)
Men’s TT team beat Nigeria 3-0, Harminder Singh (20 km walk), Monika Devi (75 kg)



Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell finally admitted on Saturday that there were problems with the official Games website, which has failed to provide automatic updates and been virtually useless. The huge embarrassment, a result of the Timing, Scoring and Results (TSR) software bought by the Games OC for Rs 112crore, has resulted in Infostrada, which provides sports information services, being drafted in to launch a new website. “There have been glitches,” Fennell said. “With the help of Infostrada and Swiss Timing we are trying for an alternative solution to the problem.”

TSR system has been bought from Swiss Timing, one of the two companies that submitted a bid. The bid of the other company, MSL, was rejected on the grounds that it did not meet evaluation criteria. The Games technology team is headed by Harsh Kumar, who is finance professional. Insiders say that he has no one with him with any experience in handling real-time data. The failure of the Games Information System has left them all out of their depth. When contacted, Harsh Kumar insisted that there are no glitches in his system. His facile explanation was that ‘‘out of the 500 cameras, one camera wasn’t working properly at Ramjas College but that isn’t a venue.’’

The purpose of a TSR system is to enable timely dissemination of information, the lack of which has sent journalists covering these Games scrambling for information and data. Real-time data, such as medals won and timings, is crucial for the media and for regular updates on the website.

According to the experts, miscalculations in determining bandwidth output could be the reason behind the flop showing of the multicrore TSR systems.

At a daily monitoring meeting on October 5, attended by all government agencies involved in the Games and officials of the Games Federation, including Fennell and Suresh Kalmadi, it was cited by some members that there was a problem across all venues and at the Main Media Centre with the updating of results, as the medals tally was not updated. However, the bigwigs are said to have assured the meeting that all problems would be sorted out soon.

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