London hacked its traffic lights to please the IOC Olympic evaluation committee

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Interesting article on Vanity Fair, via Slashdot:

Near the end of the application process, an I.O.C. evaluation committee was permitted to visit London. Bid-committee officials knew that London’s transportation system was a weak spot on the city’s application. “Our nightmare was it would take forever to get to the venues,” Mills recalled. A bid-committee team planned the routes that I.O.C. members would travel around the city, and G.P.S. transmitters were planted in all of the I.O.C. members’ vehicles so they could be tracked. From the London Traffic Control Center, near Victoria Station, where hundreds of monitors display live feeds from London’s comprehensive CCTV surveillance system, each vehicle was followed, from camera to camera, “and when they came up to traffic lights,” Mills said, “we turned them green.”

London 2012

The IOC family will be treated as kings come London 2012, or possibly better than that:

The full stipulations of the Olympic contract, which were made public in December 2010 by an East London activist and researcher named Paul Charman, following two years of Freedom of Information requests, contain tens of thousands of binding commitments. To comply with its terms, London must designate 250 miles of dedicated traffic lanes for the exclusive use of athletes and “the Olympic Family,” including I.O.C. members, honorary members, and “such other persons as may be designated by the IOC.” (These traffic lanes are sometimes called “Zil lanes,” alluding to the Soviet-era express lanes in Moscow reserved for the politburo’s favorite limousines.) Members of the Olympic Family must also have at their disposal at least 500 air-conditioned limousines with chauffeurs wearing uniforms and caps. London must set aside, and pay for, 40,000 hotel rooms, including 1,800 four- and five-star rooms for the I.O.C. and its associates, for the entire period of the Games.

Photo courtesy of Marc, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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