Behind-the-scenes: Chat with a Champ
As the Telstra Exec responsible for telecommunications for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 FINA World swimming championships, I have a deep respect for those who can pull something as awesome as the Olympic Games together.
Telstra Operation’s Service Delivery team have played their part in supporting the London 2012 games, even though in comparison to the actual event their contribution is a modest one, it has the potential to change the lives of others, who hopefully will be inspired by the initiative.
You see, Telstra is sponsoring an Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) nationwide video conferencing initiative to hook up a number of schools across Australia to some of our competing athletes in London during the Olympic Games and this is where the Service Delivery team has got involved.
Technicians were engaged back in June to assist with providing the technical set up and support of the Chat to a Champ initiative for 16 lucky schools who won the opportunity to participate in a video conference.
The events range in size from kids talking to an athlete from their classroom to a major outdoor event which invites the wider community to be part of a ‘pop up party’ before the live call which includes mini-Olympic games for the kids, face painting and autograph signings from former Olympic athletes including Duncan Armstrong and Brooke Hanson.
A lot of preparation is done before the events to ensure we give the kids a great experience on the day – something for them to remember for years to come.
For the majority of schools communication technicians installed temporary 2mb BDSL lines to maximise our ability for a successful video call on the day of the event and where that wasn’t possible, Service Delivery program co-ordinators recruited the expertise of Telstra’s Network Application Services experts to leverage off the schools existing infrastructure and build a Private Virtual Private Network to enable direct access to the Internet.
On the day of each event communication technicians have been on hand to help support the Event Managers set up the video conferencing equipment and establish the video link with London.
Since our first live call on 25 July, ten schools have participated so far with Aspley State School in Brisbane and Penrith South Primary School in Sydney both hosting major events.
This week we are continuing to support schools with smaller events taking place from Baler Primary School in South Hedland, Western Australia to Laurimar Primary School in Doreen, Victoria and the last two major events take place at South Morang, Victoria and in Adelaide, on 7 August and 10 August respectively.
While the technical support behind the Chat with a Champ initiative is only a small piece of the Telstra/ Olympic pie, our technicians and program co-ordinators have been able to ensure kids can talk to some truly inspiring athletes including Jessica Fox (silver medal winner for Kayak K1) and Yolane Kukla (gold medal for 4x100m freestyle relay) – and that really is something special.
When was the last time you had a chat with an Olympian?