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Xerox carries Olympic torch

Feb 4, 2002 12:00 AM

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Here is an Olympic story that you won’t see on television. But it plays a key role in documenting everything you’ll see at the Salt Lake City Games.

Our saga begins in Innsbruck, Austria. The year is 1964. Amid the raucous din of spectators shouting encouragement to their favorite skiers, five Xerox plain-paper copiers are churning our results-related information. So began Xerox’s involvement with the Olympic Games.

Fast-forward to Salt Lake City 2002. Xerox, sole sponsor in the Document Processing category, will use more than 3,000 piece of equipment to provide real-time results and updated information to press, broadcasters, athletes and sponsors and Olympic staff. During the 17 days of competition, Xerox equipment will be used to print 50 million pages.

If you’re watching the Olympics on television, it’s hard to grasp the enormous amount of data that is being generated and distributed behind the scenes. One of Xerox’s biggest responsibilities at the Salt Lake City Games is the Results Books. While home viewers may assume that results include only a hockey game’s final score or a figure skater’s marks, much more information is collected and distributed.

Results books are archival documents that contain detailed information on the result of each event. A short-track speed-skating result book, for example, includes the competition schedule, competition officials, medallists by event and medal standing. An entry list by country is given, as well as the results. Few Results Books are as detailed as the one produced for the curling competition. It features an almost play-by-play account of the event, mapping out the stone’s movement.

All of the Results Books are printed and delivered to the main media center and International Olympic Committee within 72 hours of an event’s completion. Since the Sydney 2000 Games, the result books have entered the digital age, too. Two weeks following the closing ceremonies, 6,000 CD versions of the Results Books will be produced and distributed. These CDs are more than souvenirs--they offer Acrobat search capabilities, making them handy reference tools.

The Results Books are produced using three Docutech 180s. Up to 32,400 impressions per hour can be printed. The 180s don’t require interposers. Books are printed duplex on 8.5 x 11 standard white stock. Books are finished offline on a Bourg binder and trimmer. (Inline finishing was deemed impractical due to space and cost restrictions.) The Salt Lake City Olympic Committee provided the reports’ preprinted color covers. By Athens 2004, however, Xerox’ goal is to print the covers on its new iGen3. Here’s how it all happens:

  • The sport begins at its venue (for example The Ice Sheet)

  • The event takes place

  • Results are generated and printed at the venue

  • Results files are created and send to the Record Book Center

  • Electronic books are built on DigiPath and in some cases, partially printed

  • The sport concludes and a proof is printed

  • Proof is signed by Results Manager

  • Electronic book is sent to Docutech 180 for printing

  • Books are bound on a binder

  • Books are cut on a cutter

  • Books are put on a pallet and delivered to loading dock

  • Salt Lake City Olympic Committee delivers books to main media center.

  • The CD workflow has four steps:

  • Create searchable PDF files

  • Copy all electronic books to CD

  • Create master and validate CD against known test criteria

  • Manufacture CD.

  • In addition to the Results Books, Xerox printers, fax devices, copiers, engineering system plotters and multifunction devices will produce and distribute race results to scoreboards, Olympic staff and 10,000 members of the media covering the games in Salt Lake City. Results reports, customized for each of the 15 sports, will be printed on Xerox Document Centre 432 and 480 digital multifunction devices.

    Xerox network printers also will support Info2002, a kiosk-based information retrieval system. The DocuPrint N2125 will print competition schedules, athlete bios, start lists, medal statistics and more at kiosks located at Olympic venues.

    Xerox also will help print the documentation required for event operations, internal accreditation, day passes, security and medical and transportation staff.

    It takes years of preparation to make all of this happen. Xerox has been testing and operating its technology in Salt Lake City for more than a year. Vince Schaffer, manager, Worldwide Olympic Operations for Xerox, note the Olympics requires a service organization capable of supporting a large city. Schaffer and his team compare this effort to servicing one Super Bowl per day. (Xerox will have more than 110 engineers on-site in Salt Lake City to support its equipment.)

    On the IT side, Xerox has been working for two to three years with at least seven other IT partners to ensure client satisfaction. SchlumbergerSema, for example, is responsible for software integration, while Gateway provides PCs.

    Athletes are just one category of Olympic clients. Others include coaches, officials, press operations, broadcasters, VIPs, and venue operations. In addition to the results and Result Books previously mentioned, Xerox helps compile and deliver reports necessary to run a given event. There are over 10,000 different reports--examples include start lists, official results, statistics and weather forecasts. High priority reports are supposed to be delivered within five minutes of printing. (Volunteers literally grab the finished reports and dash off to deliver them to a particular client.) Of course, not every report or client has top priority. Start lists and official results are the top report priorities, while press operations and broadcasters are the highest priority clients.

    Logistics also require years of careful planning--thousands of pieces of equipment must be warehoused and staged for the Games. Since many of the delivery sites are temporary tents or trailers, Xerox has prepared a 26-page document detailing structural requirements--results printers/copiers weigh 550 lbs, 590 lbs. with paper. Floors can’t sag or bounce and must be eight inches from the ground to prevent flood damage/electrical hazards.

    It’s been 38 years since Xerox’s first involvement at the Innsbruck Games. Why is the company carrying the Olympic torch? As a practical matter, the company notes that market research indicates that more than two-thirds of the U.S. population consider themselves avid or casual Olympic fans. But the company says it’s more than a public relations opportunity or a chance to flex its technical muscles.

    "Xerox sponsors the Olympic Movement because it is the right thing to do," says Anne Mulcahy, Xerox president and CEO. "The values and dedication of the athletes mirror the values and dedication of our employees and serve as an ongoing inspiration to all of us."

    Generated using Xerox’s advanced printing technology, this 27 x 70-inch vertical banner is a mosaic of photos from nearly 17,000 Xerox employees around the world. It is currently hanging displayed outside the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.
    To create the banner, the Xerox Engineering Systems ColorgrafX X2 printer produced an image file on paper using a dye-sublimation ink. The image on the paper was then transferred to polyester fabric using heat and pressure to sublimate the image into the fabric. Twenty-eight fabric panels were sewn together to complete the banner. The ColorgrafX X2 inkjet printer prints at either 360 or 720 dpi and can produce output up to 54 inches wide.