The London Olympics in 2012 will be one of the biggest social occasions the UK has witnessed since the coronation of 1953. This once in a lifetime event will provide an opportunity for visitors, spectators and followers, with their picture-capable mobile phones, to share their Olympic experiences with friends, family, broadcasters and publishers.
Through careful planning and consultation with all industry stakeholders, we have the chance to capitalise on an opportunity that was not fully exploited in Beijing in 2008. With a coordinated approach, a much richer and consistent mobile experience can be achieved to compliment the London Olympics in 2012.
By engaging those wanting to contribute content, as well as those who wish to consume it, broadcasters and internet players are offered an extra dimension of diverse material from an immensely wide human resource.
With the prospect of several hundred thousand international visitors to London in Summer 2012, it is vital that they see the London games as a Digital Media games which fully embraces mobile. By 2012 it is expected that five billion mobile devices will be in use worldwide, offering a means to share personal memories live from the Olympics. This represents an enormous opportunity for the mobile innovation.
The opportunities for using mobile technology are many and varied.
It is clear that what is put into place for the 2012 events, the fundamental mechanisms, must provide a lasting legacy. To optimise the 2012 legacy for a Digital Britain, efforts and investment made now should continue to bear fruit for many years to come. .
Towards a personal Olympics
By the end 2010, all new mobile phones will be mobile internet and mobile email ready, and enjoy sophisticated camera functionality as standard. Mobile social networking and sharing moments with friends and family will be commonplace.
Visitors to the 2012 London Olympics will expect to record and share their own personal memories of the games. This “of the moment” dynamic view will provide a great opportunity to experience the Olympics in a unique way. Examples could include creating a “MyGames2012” portal, where visitors can upload and share their Olympic experience in a controlled manner.
Other mobile focussed sites could include competitions for the best content, pictures or video, while Olympic athletes themselves could have a Facebook style personal contact area for their fans. This could ultimately generate a unique national archive of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Mobile Media coverage
The Beijing Olympics had unprecedented internet media coverage, including significant coverage for mobile internet devices. Large media organisations such as NBC and the BBC provided live 24/7 mobile web, mobile alerts and mobile video coverage. The MDA saw a 500,000 increase in the number of mobile internet users during the two weeks of the Beijing games. However, the BBC reported that only 2% of their broadcast content was consumed on mobile devices. We need to learn from the failings of Beijing and ensure that, in the lead up to the games, we promote, educate and generate demand for mobile centric content and applications.
By 2012 tariff changes and device functionality will ensure Mobile Internet and streaming media will be commonly used by upwards of 40 million in the UK. This new wave of mobile consumers will demand more innovative mobile content: from a medal award ceremony for Team GB, to action replays of the best action.
This all means that the wireless operators must ensure that capacity planning anticipates the popularity of the Olympics. Wireless provisioning in and around the stadia will need to encompass GSM based bearers, as well as WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth - which can all be used to distribute local event-based content and information.
One significant consideration with media coverage is the cost associated with viewing this content, especially for overseas visitors. Data roaming costs need to be transparent to the user, or at a fixed cost throughout their Olympic experience.
Transport and Ticketing
Mobile phones are currently being used for purchasing small items and trials of mobile payment systems are proving successful. However, by 2012 not all mobile phones will support the enabling technology known as Near Field Communication’s (NFC).
By 2012 we will be using our NFC enabled mobile phones on the underground and public transport systems of London as an Oyster card replacement. There are significant opportunities to combine mobile internet, GPS location and mapping to provide visitors with a raft of facilities. These include travel plans (using public transport), smart routes avoiding congested areas, booking facilities for hotels and restaurants, sightseeing activities and information, tickets for the games and real-time security alerts.
Localised mobile content and public transport services are already active. The London Borough of Newham recently launched their own mobile portal, which allows users to find a live music event or a restaurant, then plan a route with the public transport system. This type of application will be developed further with the blending of location based services and mobile payments, delivering a rich but intuitive solution for the Olympic visitor.
Opportunities for integrating cellular and WiFi mobile services into programming around the 2012 Olympics is vast. If planned well, it affords a major opportunity to integrate these services into future offerings, and lay the foundation for a national archive.
The Mobile Data Association MDA, with its industry-wide network of mobile expertise, is already working with many key stakeholders to provide guidance and support in the planning and phasing of these opportunities
These are just a few possibilities for the Olympics, but the opportunities around a comprehensively mobile London 2012 Games is potentially limitless.