Cities looking to host the Olympic Games increasingly view the world’s premier athletic competition as not only an opportunity to receive unparalleled publicity, but also as a chance to kick-start their economy and focus on much-needed urban projects. The concept, termed Olympic legacy, is enshrined in the Olympic Charter: the requirement that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “promote positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries.”
Though much hype surrounds the event before the Olympic Games begin, some speculate about the toll they can place on a host city should it not be significantly prepared to support public spending or infrastructure projects. As a result, increased precautionary measures—such as technical briefings prior to host city selection—are invaluable in mitigating this risk. The IOC prepares case studies (housed in its Olympic Games Knowledge Platform) and applicant cities are required to extensively outline their long-term strategy and vision for what they hope to see as an Olympic legacy.
Rio 2016, the first Games to be hosted in South America, is banking on the importance of a positive Olympic Games legacy. GE, an IOC TOP sponsor since signing on in 2005, is helping to lead the charge.
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, “we’ve got eight different businesses contributing technologies and solutions,” says Christopher Katsuleres, GE’s director of Olympic and sport marketing. The company’s latest digital-industrial technology is helping Rio contend with the incredible influx of hundreds of thousands of athletes and supporters.
In fact, GE’s technology will be in every single venue, supporting more than 170 infrastructure projects. Two big focuses for GE will be on lighting and healthcare—both of which will benefit the city after the Olympic Games conclude.
During the Games, GE will power 200,000 energy-efficient lights with LED technology—the equivalent of 1,068 soccer fields—in the Maracanã Stadium, and Olympic and Paralympic Villages, cutting the city’s spending on electricity in half. In addition to the Olympic venues, the company will also revamp the lighting of Flamenga Park, Rio de Janeiro’s largest leisure area. The LED technology will provide a gateway to future development of lighting infrastructure to aid pollution monitoring, control traffic flow and offer other smart-city solutions down the line.
While powering the Games and the city’s public spaces with advanced lighting technology is crucial, ensuring the athletes have access to the best medical technology is of paramount importance. For the first time doctors will have access to real-time health data on every athlete, thanks to GE’s electronic medical records system, Centricity Practice Solution. The tracking infrastructure will ultimately shift all medical data to the cloud. “Previously, athletes coming into the Polyclinic would be filling out forms on paper. We were at the pinnacle of global sport and using paper-based medical records…Now, when an athlete is admitted to the Polyclinic, they scan their accreditation, pull up all the relevant information and create a medical record that will be accessible from any workstation in the Polyclinic,” says Katsuleres.
In talking with Rio’s Mayor, Eduardo Paes, GE also discovered that the diagnostic-imaging equipment being used in Souza Aguiar Hospital, the second largest emergency system in Latin America, was 20-plus years old. After the Games conclude, GE will donate a full range of equipment, increasing efficiency in patient surgeries upwards of 30%.
Cities around the world are at an inflection point. Growing a sustainable future means leveraging the right technology to boost the economy and actually improve people’s lives. Hosting the Olympic Games provides an exceptional opportunity to try and harness outsized interest and investment into a real, lasting, and positive legacy. Every spectator, whether in-person or at home, will in some way experience the infrastructure and technologies imparted by partners. But it will be the citizens of Rio who stand to benefit for years to come.
This article was produced on behalf of GE by Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.