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FOR a number of government agencies, getting the right information to the right people will be imperative to the smooth running of the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events (the Events). Whether it is broadcasting results from the Events, or letting athletes competing in Hong Kong know to expect a change in the weather, the efficient dissemination of information will be vital.

The Hong Kong Observatory (the Observatory) is one agency which is totally on the ball —— both in gathering and disseminating information. HKO has been involved in the Events from the early planning stages, collecting weather data that was necessary for deciding on an optimal competition schedule taking into account the heat and humidity of Hong Kong’s summer. A special heat-stress monitoring system was designed and built from scratch under a very tight time frame. Preparations began in late 2005 to allow sufficient time to collect vital weather information for decision-making.

Exercises were carried out to test the effectiveness of the weather-forecasting support systems, and tailor-made weather forecasting services had been provided during the Good Luck Beijing events and will be provided in the coming Olympic events.

HKO will also support Beijing in forecasting severe weather through the deployment of its cutting-edge short-range forecasting system. It will also support the Hong Kong windsurfing team through provision of tailor-made weather services for the competition venue at Qingdao.

OFTA’s Olympian effort

The availability of efficient public telephone services, Internet services, external telecommunications services and broadcasting services will be essential during the Events–and it is up to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) to ensure that everything is running smoothly. OFTA’s role is extremely important, not only for Olympics-related communications, but also emergency services.

OFTA will monitor any radio interference that may affect the proper functioning of public mobile phone networks, broadcasting services, the radio systems of government emergency agencies and the Equestrian Events (Hong Kong) of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad Company Limited (Equestrian Company); it will also assist the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in allocating suitable frequency for radio use. Another important role for OFTA is the issuance of temporary licences for the setting up of radio communications systems; and inspecting and labelling radio equipment to be used for the Events.

OFTA started to prepare its Departmental Contingency Plan for the Events in September 2006, with the establishment of a team of 24 officers through internal staff redeployment. This represents 13% of the office’s regulatory/enforcement staff,and stretches its manpower capacity to the limit during the Events period.

From Fuwa to foreign correspondents, it is a multi-faceted role for ISD

Big events such as the Olympics will always bring into play the wide range of services provided by the Information Services Department (ISD).

From handling media enquiries, planning the fit-out of an international media centre, and devising the logistics of press coverage for major events to designing giant banners and even sourcing souvenirs —— all of these jobs and more are routinely handled by ISD staff.

This year their skills and professionalism have been further honed with the sustained —— and at times very demanding —— efforts to promote Hong Kong’s Olympic equestrian preparations and the Torch Relay.

ISD is working closely with other departments that are heavily involved in this year’s Olympic preparations, including the Home Affairs Department, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Transport Department and the Hong Kong Police Force, as well as the Equestrian Company and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.