Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tech power India can't keep the Games website up and running

The Commonwealth Games official website has gone for a toss. Far from being uploaded automatically almost in real time, the website has been painfully slow, often well behind private media sites. This has virtually shut down an important window on the Delhi Games for the wider world.

The mess is the result of an expensive piece of technology, the Timing, Scoring & Results (TSR) system, a key requirement in modern sporting events.

The system was procured by the Games OC for a stunning Rs 112 crore, which is five times more than what Melbourne paid for its TSR system at the last Commonwealth Games. Experts here say it could be bought for Rs 35 crore.

Now, after a week of complaints and with just five days to go, Infostrada, which provides comprehensive statistics and sports information services at the Games, will now launch a new website solely for the media's use.

This cock-up is seen as a huge embarrassment, especialy as India prides itself on being a technology power. But the TSR system tripped up every day in the week the Games have been on, forcing Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell to admit on Saturday to problems with the system.

Fennell said that there were problems with the official Games website, which has failed to provide automatic updates and been virtually useless.

"There have been glitches," Fennell said. "With the help of Infostrada and Swiss Timing we are trying for an alternative solution to the problem."

Sources told TOI that the TSR system has been bought from Swiss Timing, one of the two companies that submitted a bid. The bid of the other company, MSL, was rejected on the grounds that it did not meet evaluation criteria. The Games technology team is headed by Harsh Kumar, who is a finance professional.

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