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Have you ever played Sokoban? It’s a forty-year-old computer game where players strategically push crates to designated locations before they can progress to the next level. It’s a simple concept, but compelling, and is also a scenario that many of us may be familiar with – completing a project where all the pieces fit together correctly before we can continue. It’s also a pretty good visual metaphor for the work that’s happening right now behind the scenes for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, as the organisers and Games Family work ceaselessly to make sure everything is in the right place before 6500 athletes and officials from 72 nations and territories arrive at the Opening Ceremony on the 28th of July.
Not only is Birmingham 2022 responsible for an event watched by over 1.5 billion viewers worldwide, but they will welcome more than a million spectators, volunteers and staff to the event, while also coping with the extra layer of complication that a pandemic brings. This means that, in the planning, everything from building and logistics to the events themselves have had to take Covid-19 safety into account. “It has added a layer of complexity to these Games,” explains Joe Ryan, Head of Health & Safety at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. “You’ve got to plan for multiple scenarios, just in case. This makes things far more complicated.”
‘More complicated’ is something of an understatement when you consider that the Games themselves will take place over 19 different locations – from off road mountain bike tracks to swimming pools, sports stadia to pristine Bowling lawns – with every tiny detail organised seamlessly by Birmingham 2022, which oversees the delivery of the entire event. There are also Athlete’s villages, three Polyclinics and a Media Hub, all complete with technology and services provided by Canon.
A duty of care – to 4,500 athletes
The organisers of Birmingham 2022 treat their responsibility to the people taking part with the utmost seriousness. They will be providing a team of some of the best sports medical professionals around, and to support them in their work they will have use of the best medical imaging equipment too. “We know that Canon Medical are leaders in their field, and we are really excited to work with Canon,” explains Pam Venning, Head of Medical.
However, some of the equipment needed is far from simple to supply and install, and this complexity dictates where two of Birmingham 2022’s three dedicated polyclinics will be located. Two of the three clinics will take delivery of a state-of-the-art MRI Scanner, which will need to be lifted into place by crane. Ian Watson, UK Director of Commercial Solutions, Canon Medical Systems Ltd explains, “The MRI Modular buildings are extremely heavy – around thirty tonnes – so project planning is vital. The physics behind achieving the best image quality from the MRI scanner is also key. The system uses minute electrical signals from the body, so you must make sure that the scanner is properly shielded from external electrical or signal interference. Therefore, locations away from moving traffic, lifts, substations etcetera are critical.”
The clinics will also be using Canon Medical X-ray facilities, which require temporary lead shields. These will be installed by a UK-based Canon Medical distributor who is experienced in installing such solutions for temporary hospitals in war zones. There will also be Canon Medical Ultrasound Systems on site and a team of medically trained Application Specialists available to provide initial support on the technologies and for medics to consult on their use throughout. And while the physical set up of the clinics sounds like a mammoth task in and of itself, there are also issues of information security to be addressed. “When you scan an athlete, that image, that data needs to be transferred from the scanner to a central facility for the doctors, so they can assess it and see what the problem is,” explains Ian. “So, there are GDPR matters and data transmission requirements. Also, you’re in a temporary location, so it’s crucial to consider how to make the data transfer. Network cables? Or 4G, 5G? Satellite? There are plenty of challenges we need to be ready to provide solutions for.” These kinds of complexities are business as usual for Ian and his team – and Canon Medical overall – who work with these kinds of tricky installations regularly. “Road closures, cranes, we have even put a CT scanner on a barge to reach a customer,” laughs Ian. “This is what we do for a living,”
Printers in offices, fields and next to racecourses
It’s easy to forget that the organisation of such a high-profile event starts and ends on paper. From the floor plans and design work that is produced on wide format machines, to the accreditation passes that everyone who enters the site needs to wear. Plus, there’s any printing that’s needed day-to-day in the run up to the event and during the event itself. That’s a lot of machines and a lot of ink. Birmingham 2022 needs devices that are reliable and efficient, so these too will all be Canon – 600 in total. 350 will be network connected and another 250 will be standalone at events. And, to return to the Sokoban metaphor, each machine needs to slot neatly into place at the right time. “It’s not an insignificant undertaking,” says Steve Cliffe, Canon UK’s Managed Print Services Architect for the project. “Effectively, we have three to five days to implement a thirty-location service and stand it all up from a technology integration point of view. That’s also working within the confines and controls of vehicular access, people access and permits because we operate alongside all the other suppliers that are going to be a part of the Games.” It involves a deeper level of strategic planning than is usual for an implementation of this size because every supplier needs to work together and there are understandably extremely high levels of security around the Games’ locations. Even something as seemingly simple as delivering the devices into the central warehouse requires vehicles to be inspected and pre-authorised.
Print is required at every location: from office based, to those in portacabins at the side of events. Some will require permanent networking. Others will only be connected for a day. They will be used across every aspect of Birmingham 2022, by hundreds, if not thousands of people, all with different needs – athletes, officials, stewards and staff – so ensuring that each machine is data secure is absolutely critical. “The other vital part is connectivity because a lot of these devices will be placed in sports venues,” adds Cathy Chapman, Head of IT Service Delivery at the Games. “That may be in a forest for the mountain biking or located in a greenfield site next to the cycling road race. So, lots of different places where the connectivity is as vital as the hardware itself.” So, the majority of the imageRUNNER ADVANCE multi-function machines and i-SENSYS X printers will be connected using Canon’s uniFLOW Online secure print and scan environment. They are supported by a dedicated rota of Canon engineers who are deployed with everything they may need during the Games, because security restrictions mean that it is impossible to bring in emergency extra consumables, paper or parts.
Supporting the current and future eyes of the world
The world’s press will be at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, reporting the action as it happens. Around 300 accredited photographers are expected on site over the eleven days of the Games and Canon Professional Services (CPS) will be on hand to support them at a dedicated Media Hub at Arena Birmingham. There, they can avail themselves of tech support, on-site repairs and servicing. And while the CPS team looks after the needs of a current generation of creative professionals, the Canon Young People Programme will be working with schools in Birmingham, introducing students to essential creative skills that not only help them express themselves, but introduce them to careers they may not have thought possible. “The Canon Young People Programme really strikes a chord with what the Games is trying to do,” adds Ian Reid, CEO of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. “It gives a great and different touchpoint for how young people can learn. So, we’re really excited about that.”
Canon is the Official Imaging Supporter for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will take place from 28 July until 8 August 2022.