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Gerry PennellHead of Technology at Manchester University, former CIO for the London Olympic Games
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As CIO for the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, (LOCOG) Gerry Pennell delivered the most technologically connected Games ever and what became the most popular sports website in the world – a gold medal standard achievement.
Gerry joined LOCOG in November 2008 with responsibility to lead the team of staff and partners delivering all the IT, telecommunications and other technologies required to stage the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games in London which, amongst many other innovations, saw a step-change in the level of engagement with the digital consumer via Smartphones and other devices. Gerry’s team deployed more than 110,000 pieces of equipment in the lead up to the Games. During the Olympics and Paralympics, his team of 190 people, based at the Technology Operations Centre monitored the IT systems including London2012.com, which became the most popular sports website in the world with 338.3 billion page views.
On the busiest day of the Games there were 13.1 million web users – One of the highest peaks in website use and mobile use in particular was the Andy Murray Tennis Final. During the Games the Olympic Network, which connected 94 locations, carried 961TB of information. The Technology team supported critical applications such as the Commentator Information System and results service, as well as monitoring 900 servers, 1000 network and security devices and 9500 PCs. The It team peaked at 6000 members during the games
For the first time in any Games results were provided in real time for every Olympic sport both via the web and mobile devices. LOCOG set up the Joint Olympic Operators Group (JOOG) to work with the major network suppliers to ensure sufficient capacity during the Games. LOGOC worked with BT, who put in the worlds largest high-density Wi-FI system to ensure services could be accessed from mobile devices during the Games. LOGOC controlled and monitored Cyber - Security during the Games and successfully mitigated the at least one major incident.
Facing the challenges of new software, the logistics of co-coordinating people, technology and suppliers and the tight time frames involved was successfully implemented due to months of preparation and testing before the event.
Gerry’s role as Director of Technology for the 17th Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002 undoubtedly gave him the experience necessary to deliver at such an exacting standard, although the scale of the Olympics is much larger. His last Olympic task will be a formal handover to the Rio organizing team in Rio 2016.
Gerry Pennell attended the University of Manchester to study Mathematics. This has led to a long and distinguished career in IT, which started in the development of mathematical models and real-time software for applications in anti-submarine warfare, gun and rocket artillery. He has worked with both Barclays Bank and Price Waterhouse Coopers as a Management Consultant with a track record in trouble shooting and delivering large time-critical programmes and projects.
He then took the role as Director of Technology for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002. This role required the establishment of the technology department, the selection of key suppliers and sponsors and direction of the IT and telecommunications for the Games.
After the Commonwealth Games and prior to joining LOCOG Gerry was CIO for the Cooperative Financial Services and the Cooperative Group – a £9.5bn turnover group of businesses covering banking, insurance and retail.
Gerry is currently a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the British Computer Society. He was appointed OBE in the 2013 New Years Honours list.
Gerry has recently been appointed the Director of IT at The University of Manchester. In this role, Gerry will be responsible for leading the University’s IT function to ensure it supports all aspects of the University’s activities and enables the delivery of its ambitious Manchester 2020 Vision.
‘A really big thank you for being our after dinner speaker on Monday evening. Your talk was a perfect combination of information and entertainment, and was clearly enjoyed by all those present, as was the ensuing session of questions and answers. Many of our guests said how much they had enjoyed the evening, as did members of our Programme Steering Board at our meeting the following morning. So, once again, a big thank you for a most excellent talk. It turned what would simply have been a nice dinner with good company into a truly memorable evening.’ Philip Hargrave FREng, CEO and Network Director, ICT KTN