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Case study: Assuring London 2012 with testing by Acutest

20 July 2022 Time to read:  minutes

It’s now ten years since Acutest brought a gold standard approach to digital innovation at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Ten years ago, the world watched with bated breath as for several weeks the UK played host to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. During this momentous summer for Great Britain, when Team GB was clocking up medals across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, technology and the consumption of digital were making an equally significant impact on the history of the Games.

For the first time in its history, the International Olympic Committee provided a live broadcast of the action. With a record 59.5 million video views, digital coverage exceeded traditional broadcast, and Olympic broadcasters provided a record combined total of more than 100,000 hours of Games coverage.

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The Challenge

In the run-up to London 2012, technology was ever present in every aspect of the Games. From the provision of mobile telephony to support communication at venues to the management of athlete entries, and qualifications and the stream of real-time results to broadcasters to support and enhance their commentary. But underpinning the first ‘Digital Games’ from the Technology Operations Centre (TOC) in Canary Wharf, across hundreds of servers, networks, and security devices, was an IT support system, years in the planning, with rigorous testing and assurance roadmap. In 2011, the message from the Olympic technology partner, Atos, was clear:

“For us, the pressure is continuing to intensify with IT deadlines that have to be met. Unlike other IT projects, the Olympics are delivered and executed under the eyes of the world and there can be no delays.”

Michele Hyron, Atos Chief Integrator for the Olympic Games, July 2011

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In order to meet these goals of running inspirational and distinctive games, a stringent IT testing approach was required by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), through their technology partner, Atos.

The Solution: Acutest’s approach

With the eyes of the world looking to London, the magnitude of the task of assurance and quality testing was critical, underpinning how the world would perceive the 2012 host nation.

Knowing that there would be no medals for failing to deliver a ground-breaking tournament of sport, culture, and commentary, Atos sought out the services of Acutest. Early on in Games-time planning, Ian Bradley, (Acutest Senior Consultant, was drafted into Atos to act as their pivotal Technology Test Manager for London 2012. Acutest was invited to manage the testing due to its reputation in the testing industry, located in the TOC at Canary Wharf.

“It was an exhilarating time – we knew that LOCOG’s ambitious plans for the first digital Games could only become a reality with a coordinated and tactical approach to IT testing and assurance. The focus had to be on the sport and the medal winning performances, not a website going offline, or an app being hacked.”

Ian Bradley, Acutest

Once part of the team, Ian’s experience and knowledge brought transparency, assurance, direction and focus to the planning and hosting of the Games. Working closely with Atos and LOCOG’s other technology partners (Panasonic, Cisco, Samsung to name a few), Acutest set about delivering on these promises through:

  • Defining and socialising a robust test strategy, including facilitating test forum meetings with stakeholders
  • Finding gaps and highlighting weaknesses in the testing provision through assurance testing at venues, testing the deliverables and ensuring the integration of applications, working as a team of three across 12 hour shifts.

“The task was vast – with 77 digital products, and 83 million emails sent across the organising bodies and media. We had to test systems which would onboard 70,000 Games Makers, 11,000 athletes and countless officials. The reputation of the country depended on a solid digital foundation, as well as our own professional standards of delivery excellence at Acutest.”

Ian Bradley, Acutest

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The Results

Prior to the opening ceremony of London 2012, Atos carried out a robust testing programme with the support of Acutest to ensure the Games were a success. At the time, British Olympic Association and LOCOG Chair Lord Coe said to Business Matters:

“The technology for London 2012 – like the athletes – is in full training for the Games and there are no second chances. Our teams, alongside our partners will undertake over 200,000 hours of testing to make sure that when it comes to technology, for the athletes it simply isn’t a consideration.”

Lord Seb Coe, British Olympic Association and LOCOG Chair

From their Technology Lab (a miniature version of the 36 Olympic competition venues) the IT systems for every sports event and venue, were put through a series of tests. These tests assured the technology infrastructure, and gave confidence to the organisers through the following activity:

  • Testing the robustness of the central website, including blocking numerous malicious attacks from across the globe, as well as fixing 300 defects prior to games-time.
  • One of the many testing exercises consisted of a simulation of 1 million people accessing the website at once.
  • Breaking new ground during the Games with new apps
  • Textbook lesson in risk mitigation
  • A successful Games Maker accreditation and onboarding programme.

Your personal best with Acutest

Today, we are trusted by organisations across the UK and Europe. Our customers represent most of the key sectors and come from every size of business, from start-ups through to blue-chip multinational bodies. Acutest’s capabilities include a full range of testing and assurance services including: technical, non-functional and automated assurance; testing management and outsourced services; as well as specialist testing like cloud-based assurance or Project Rescue. Project Rescue is a popular service designed to get critical projects back on track when they may be falling at the last hurdle – ensuring tight delivery timescales and budgets are met.

This year we celebrate twenty years of Acutest. Over the next few months, we will be sharing memories and stories from across the Acutest family, so please follow the conversation on LinkedIn via @Acutest and #Acutest20.

Written by Julia Bluckert.

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