Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reporter's notebook: unprepared security and woeful wifi

At the Olympics, organized chaos is the name of the game.

On Feb. 9, reporters allowed to tour the Vancouver Olympic Village were told to report to the bus loop at the cruise ship level in the Canada Place Main Press Centre by 1 p.m. We were to be pre-screened so that the motorcoaches we were going to board could drive right into the Southeast False Creek village and let us off so we could wander freely. Efficient idea. But theory doesn't always shake hands with practice at the Olympics.

The Contemporary International security screeners weren't ready for 300 reporters to show up at the same time. Ushers finally made the quick decision to separate the lines into rights-holding broadcasters and print reporters and photographers. That seemed to speed the airport-style security check, but then there was the wait on the other side of the fence for motorcoach assignment. We eventually made it to the village just before 2 p.m.

It would have been immensely easier - and more sustainable! - to hop aboard the SkyTrain from Waterfront to Main Street and walk a block to the venue security entry. That would have taken all of 15 minutes.

On Feb. 10, the NetZone wireless Internet - which costs a whopping $560 for 33 days - was not working for long periods of time at the Main Press Centre. When it did, the speed was glacial. This is the Bell and Avaya system in action and both companies ought to make improvements quickly or risk international embarrassment and calls for refunds or service credits.

Bell has been hyping the first "all-Internet Protocol" Olympics for several years while Avaya swept in and picked up certain assets of bankrupt VANOC sponsor Nortel.

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