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Headlines Published on 16 August 2004

Title A bird’s eye view of Athens during the Games

Amid the usual fanfare of torch lighting and opening celebrations, the Athens Olympics got underway this week. While attention focuses on the athletes, behind the scenes EU technology will be tracking transport flows and keeping an eye out for potential crises and anomalies.

Someone to watch over you during major events © Image: EU Project
Someone to watch over you during major events
© Image: EU Project
Almost as much news time has been dedicated to Athens’ Olympic preparations and potential terror and crisis threats as on the Games themselves – an occasion for the best athletes to compete for glory on a world stage. One EU-backed project has been busy developing a system so that the thousands of athletes and millions of spectators in the Greek capital can concentrate on what should be the most important aspect of the Games – the sporting excellence.

The project called ‘Eye in the sky’ was funded under the European Commission’s Information Society Technologies (IST) activities, part of the Union’s Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) for research. It set out to create an intelligent system for managing transport infrastructure, especially in relation to hallmark events.

Using data collected from observations of the Sydney Games and the Hannover World Expo, both in 2000, the project set about creating an integrated and customised set of mobility services for traffic monitoring, fleet management and security in urban environments besieged by millions of people during mega-events like the test case Athens Games.

Strictly European
In August 2001, when the project kicked off, one of the first things the consoritum had to do was establish what it calls a “user needs analysis”. Careful scrutiny of the successful Sydney Games and the Hannover Expo took place, as well analysis of the existing systems which could be improved upon. For this, the project organised regular “user group meetings” to assess the best way to design and validate a system which could work with existing platforms.

The next step for the team, which counted among its members the University of Crete and industry players, such as the German multinational Blaupunkt and a Fraunhofer institute (IGD), as well as experts in telematics and aerial monitoring, was to devise a system architecture for both airborne and terrestrial applications. Once completed, they built, installed and tested a tailor-made optical sensor and telecom equipment on an airship and ground systems for processing the data being collected above.

The information is generated using a European innovation called Floating Car Data, and is integrated with data collected from static sensors and aggregated into a geo-referenced data-structure which is processed to provide fleet management and customised mobility information. The project’s emphasis on user needs and its efforts to publicise its activities means the new tools it has created and is testing during the Athens Games should easily find their way onto the competitive market.

‘Eye in the sky’ brought together nine partners from Greece, Germany and Italy, including the Commission’s own Joint Research Centre, to carry out this 30-month project. It cost over €4 million with the EU sharing half of the burden. The Union also backed other technologies being showcased at the Athens Olympics, such as the IST OLYMPIC project, a platform to transmit live and recorded footage over the Internet in different formats.

Source:  Project info and fact sheet

Research Contacts page

More information:

  • Project fact sheet
  • Providing a fuller view of the Olympics (IST Results, 6 August 2004)
  • OLYMPIC (Olympics Multimedia Personalised for the Internet Community EU project)
  • LOVEUS (Location aware Visually Enhanced Ubiquitous Services, EU project)
  • Forschen für Olympia(in German)
  • The Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics (IGD)

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