The Inquirer-Home

Olympics technology legacy promises a marathon not a sprint

Cisco and Tech City chiefs confident long-term effects of London Games will be seen over time
Mon Oct 29 2012, 16:51
The opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games

WHEN MO FARAH charged his way around the Olympic Stadium in both the 10,000m and 5,000m at the London Olympics it represented the zenith of years of training and hard work for one moment of glory cheered by millions.

This was much the same as the Games itself, which after seven years in the planning dazzled the world for two electric weeks, and then did so again for the Paralympic Games, before finally fading away. However, just as Farah continues to train for future events, just because the Games are over that doesn't mean their impact on the nation is at an end.

Indeed, the legacy benefits of the Olympics were one of the central tenants to the London bid and already those involved in the Games have seen the impact it has had on London, and the wider world.

"Without doubt the impact of the Games has exceeded our expectations on the sorts of conversations we are now having," Cisco UK chief technology officer, Ian Foddering, explained to The INQUIRER.

"I'm talking to chief information officers in Australia about the work we did and we're already liaising with those working on the Winter Olympics in Sochi about our experience."

For Cisco, the main legacy aspects it focused on promoting before, during and after the games was the promotion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at schools and to encourage new start-ups with its British Innovation Gateway (BIG) awards.

The first winners of the BIG awards were announced in September, with Snap Fashion, which allows users to search for clothing items via a visual search engine, winning prizes including PR, legal help and cash totalling $200,000.

The competition will run for four more years, with Foddering explaining that Cisco is already seeing strong interest levels for the future of the event on the back of the Games and is hoping to expand the scope of the competition as a result.

"We're looking to align those with the right talents in Cisco with the organisations that enter to give them advice and guidance and may look into actually doing placements at the start-ups, to gain insights into new trends and technologies," Foddering said.

Education was also cited as a major legacy aspect of the Games, both in creating the next generation of sporting stars to thrill us in the future but also in the next generation of digital stars that will help the UK grow its tech status on the world stage.

"Between the ages of 11 to 16 year is where you have the biggest falling off in people covering the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] topics but if the UK is to remain competitive on a global scale we need those sorts of skills," explains Foddering.

"I talk to a number of our customers that are challenged with getting skilled workers, so if we can just get a few people to think differently about science and maths and go into those topics as a career that will be a success."

To try and encourage this, Cisco has sent education materials to some 1.5 million students and 16,000 teachers involved in its ‘Out of the Blocks' programme aiming to promote the take-up of STEM subjects among those in the 11 to 16 age bracket.


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