Olympic Games – how Prospect members played their part in GB success
14 Aug 2012
The stars of track and field have had their day – now it’s the turn of the behind-the-scenes Olympians without whom the 2012 games could not have happened.
And leading the pack of unsung heroes were thousands of Prospect members who helped to deliver the 30th Olympiad to athletes, spectators and the world outside.
All had to put up with extended or extra shifts, annual leave cancelled or delayed, long travel journeys and lots of hard work – but they were more than happy to do their bit.
Perhaps the most high-profile members involved were the teams of Met Office weather presenters based just outside the Olympic park and at Weymouth, Eton Dorney and Lerwick, in the Shetlands.
Prospect rep Alex Deakin was one of 10 presenters working out of the Lund Point council block for the games, overlooking Stratford Park. He said:
“We had many more broadcasts than usual, roughly one every half hour. Forecasts were absolutely vital for many sports like sailing, rowing, beach volleyball, even athletics, but were just as important for anyone coming to see the games and visitors to the park.”
For BT members, who had to put in the telecoms infrastructure for all the events, this was a massive project: 80,000 connections were installed across 95 venues, feeding off 4,500km of cabling.
The games time website alone had to cope with one billion hits from 200m individual users.
BT also supplied 14,000 cable TV outlets, 16,500 IPT handsets and 14,000 mobile phone SIM cards, all helping to handle seven times the demand experienced at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In addition, Airwave members designed and built a private mobile radio service called Apollo, to provide guaranteed, secure coverage for staff and volunteers.
EDF Energy, a major Prospect employer, is an official partner of both the Olympic and Paralympic games, supplying power to the whole park and fuelling the Olympic flame in the torch relay and the cauldron.
All the electricity EDF supplied to the park and venues was backed by low-carbon generation sources. It installed 120 electric vehicle chargepoints to support the Olympic games fleet, and innovative energy monitoring technology at six major sites.
For air traffic controllers in NATS, the challenge was to manage 7,000 extra flights and to operate the temporary airspace restrictions in force around London from 14 July. These were designed to create a ‘known environment’ where any aircraft, commercial or private, was in communication with either NATS or military controllers.
A crisis communications cell supported the operation 24/7 and liaised with Eurocontrol, the Department for Transport, airlines, airports and the Met Office.
Other Prospect Olympians included:
- football referees and assistant referees who refereed several of the 32 matches in the competition
- GE Healthcare, which supplied all the diagnostic equipment for the athletes’ pre- and post-race medical checks
- members in the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, which provided emergency back-up for all the London events
- members at Ofcom who made sure radio interference did not bring down the wireless timing systems
- Transport for London, whose members served as travel ambassadors to keep the traffic moving, and Highways Agency traffic officers who patrolled the Olympic road network outside London - in particular roads to/from Weymouth
- Health and Safety Executive inspectors who supervised the construction of the site and its remarkable safety record, with not a single fatality during the course of its construction
- The Royal Mint, which made the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded at 302 victory ceremonies
- Ordnance Survey staff, who captured the structural changes at all the Olympic sites, making sure that mapping was always up to date. There was also embedded support to the Cabinet Office Olympic secretariat during the games
- Royal Parks managers, assistant managers and others, who worked long shifts to plan and run the events in Hyde Park and Richmond Park.
The last word should go to the Museum of London archaeological unit, who excavated the site at the very inception of the whole Olympic project when Stratford Park was just a huge toxic dump.
Many Prospect members helped out with volunteering duties during the games. If any member has a story about their involvement in the games, please email a brief account to firstname.lastname@example.org by 14 September.
Topics: Success Story