As the light of Olympic flame was extinguished, closing the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, last February, the success of the power protection that kept the lights on — as well as the information technology (IT), communications, and broadcasts operations running 24x7 — is still a bright memory.

“Secure, resilient, and reliable energy for the Olympic Games is one of the basic critical services required to ensure the success of all functional areas during Games,” according to John Paul Giancarlo, head of Olympic Games Technology for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “There is no room to consider even a moment of power loss. UPS systems from GE provided stable, filtered power to support critical technical operations, as well as connected primary utility and secondary on-site generator power.”

GE provided more than 500 UPS units for the Sochi Games, ranging from large kilovolt amp (kVA) three phase containerized units supporting entire broadcast, IT, and telecommunications facilities, down to smaller single phase individual units protecting specific IT and electronic equipment. High-performance single phase GE VH Series and GT Series UPS units with power ranges between 2 kVA and 10 kVA also protected mission-critical administrative and security applications, such as the accreditation center where thousands of credentials and secure authorization documents were processed.

GE also provided power distribution equipment, including distribution panels and circuit breakers, to support broadcast distribution networks in the International Broadcast Center. Two aeroderivative gas turbines were also deployed late last year in Russia’s Krasnodar region to provide additional peak load power for the 2014 Olympic Games.

7X24 power protection monitoring

After installation, the challenge was to network 300 of the 500 UPS units to a central 7x24 UPS remote monitoring and diagnostics center located near the Olympic Village to ensure all the power protection systems were operating at peak efficiency and performance.

GE has provided UPS power protection for each of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games since Turin, including Beijing, Vancouver, London, and now Sochi. In London and Vancouver GE provided a remote monitoring system as well. However, this was the first Winter Games where GE supplied a redundant monitoring infrastructure incorporating two separate data centers.

The case for redundant monitoring

The local monitoring platform consisted of one application server, one structured query language (SQL) database server, and a short message service (SMS) gateway connected to the application server used to deliver UPS notifications to service engineers. All data was centralized at the primary data center (PDC). The same hardware and software configuration was replicated in the secondary data center (SDC). The SDC served as a disaster recovery site for the PDC.

The redundant architecture proved itself at the very start of the Games. “Just a few hours after the opening ceremony we completely lost the communication link with all the UPS units connected to Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center Venue for about three minutes, due to a networking issue between venues,” said Capua. “This situation did not invoke the secondary data center because the primary data center was running properly.”

The redundant monitoring capability was also used during the 12 days it took to configure the servers to “talk” to all of the 300 UPSs, and then to integrate them into the virtual local area network (VLAN) services. The redundant monitoring capability allowed GE to work in parallel on both infrastructures and merge the data using the backup/restore functionality.

Power incident reports

While thousands of athletes competed in hundreds of events, GE’s power protection and monitoring worked quietly behind the scenes to keep power running to sports venues and support facilities.

One of the more significant power incidents occurred when one of the three phase GE SG Series UPS units at the Fischt Olympic Stadium provided power backup to the entire facility during a complete power outage. Over the course of the Games, GE recorded power backup incidents during outages at 18 of the other sports and operation centers.

More typical were power quality issues. “We monitored 1,800 incidents over the course of the Games — which involved input voltage drops on the single phase and three phase UPS units (299 events) or UPS alarms that signaled output load threshold incidents (150 events),” said Giovanni Capua, a lead service manager at GE Critical Power. “For all of these incidents, we monitored the event and the performance of the UPS systems using a real-time dashboard.”

Harnessing UPS monitoring data

Now that the Games are over, power outage and quality data collected by GE’s 7-24 monitoring center, staff by an international team of 30 professionals, is being analyzed for power and protection system being designed for the next Olympics. “Power load data gathered from these systems has been provided to the International Olympic Committee as a part of GE’s cooperation in the Games Transfer of Knowledge Program,” said Giancarlo of the Olympic IOC. “This information will be used along with other data to help future organizers better understand how power is used by the venues and in various applications during the Games.”

As the 2014 Winter Olympics become part of the record books, the lessons learned from deploying this mega power protection and monitoring infrastructure will also be part of the “record” for power services and engineering professional around the world.