IPv6 gets a workout at Olympics

Video surveillance, automated lighting and traffic control systems run on protocol

IP Version 6 (IPv6) is making its international debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, being deployed throughout Olympic Park in several operational systems.

An IPv6-based video surveillance system is operating at 58 Olympic facilities, including arenas and stadiums across Olympic Park. IPv6-capable sensors, controllers and video cameras provide Olympic officials with the ability to monitor all areas of the Olympic facilities.

The devices use one of IPv6's best features: stateless auto configuration. Auto-configuration allows new devices, particularly non-traditional devices, to be added to networks quickly and easily with little advance configuration. The IPv6-enabled video cameras used in Beijing automatically configure their IPv6 addresses and other parameters when they're connected to the network. The cameras are then accessible and controllable through central software programs that automate their configuration.

The cameras connect to the network through standard Ethernet cable or wireless links, which is simpler than traditional closed-circuit cameras that use coaxial connections. The Beijing Olympics Committee has promoted this system to the 2012 Olympic Committee.

'The large-scale remote visual system has been the technical highlight in the Beijing Olympic games,' said Liu Dong, chief executive officer of the Beijing Internet Institute, which supplied the visual surveillance system for the games. It is believed to be the world's first IPv6-based video surveillance and sensor system.

About 18,000 lights and thermostats distributed through the main stadium district in Olympic Park are controlled by 200 IPv6-enabled control nodes, Dong said. The IPv6-based system has intelligence to control the lights in a manner that reduces energy consumption.

Taxicabs that provide local transportation have been equipped with IPv6-based sensors. The sensors use wireless applications to transmit a taxi's location and traffic conditions to a central control center, which can assess traffic congestion and re-route the vehicles accordingly. Some 15,000 taxis are participating in the program.

Showcasing IPv6 at the 2008 Olympics was an early goal for China in its presentation of the games. Development began more than five years ago.
China, which has been an early adopter of IPv6, also unveiled the China Education and Research Network 2 (CERNET2) at the games.

The CERNET2 project began in 2003, with deployment to 39 points of presence in 20 cities across China and was completed in 2006. The network provides IPv6 access service not only to Olympic Park but also other cities where games are being played, including Qingdao, Shenyang and Shanghai. CERNET2 is an IPv6-only network, meaning that it is not running IPv4 concurrently with IPv6 and is only accessible through client systems and networks that are running IPv6.

China has been an advocate of IPv6 for some time. Despite having the world's largest population of 1.3 billion people, a culture that promotes the early adoption of technology, and a booming economy that is increasingly online, China has only about 160 million IPv4 addresses. That is not nearly enough to cover the country's current Internet access needs, much less mobile phones, hand-held personal digital assistants and other IP-enabled devices.

'China wants to leverage IPv6 Internet technology to turn it into an innovator in the information technology market,' said Dave Green, vice president of research and development at Command Information. China believes that IPv6 is the key 'to meeting the demand of its fast-growing online economy,' Green said.

Although China and the Far East in general have embraced the new protocol, adoption in the United States has been relatively slow. Unlike in the United States ' where the Office of Management and Budget's June 2008 IPv6 mandate was unfunded ' the Chinese government funded various ministries and agencies for IPv6-related projects. China's National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) began the China Next-generation Internet program in 2003 with initial funding equivalent to approximately $169 million in United States dollars.

'The goal was to develop the world's largest IPv6 network as soon as possible, with the technology to be showcased at the 2008 Beijing Olympics,' said Green.

The 2008 games have also brought forth the first IPv6 Olympic Web site, ipv6.beijing2008.cn. The site was designed by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games, China Education and Research Network and Sohu.com. But you will need IPv6 to access it, or at least the ability to tunnel through your IPv4 network to gateways that can provide access to the IPv6 network. If you are not running IPv6, the main Olympic Web site, www.beijing2008.cn, can be accessed over the IPv4 Internet.

About the Author

Dan Campbell is a freelance writer with Government Computer News and the president of Millennia Systems Inc.

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