Cool Content: Anthony Palmer on capturing the Olympic Park

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Anthony Palmer

Anthony Palmer has spent the last few years working for the Olympic Delivery Authority, capturing and communicating the process of building the Olympic park. He’s going to condense to 20 minutes that took four years to do…

In March 2008, the whole of the Olympics Park – about the size of Hyde Park – was only just a construction site.

ODA had to build the set, while LOCOG put on the show. The ODA was regenerating the East End, LOCOG inspiring a generation. And his role was to show the world what was happening. He lives in Stratford – he was able to photograph the streets being destroyed before the big blue fence went up. However, the images weren’t just of decay – they had fantastic designs for the new, sustainable venues.

The third element of the communications were the local community – who found the biggest construction site in Europe happening on their doorstep.

All of their comms included the lustiest images and video. The ones with aerial photos and video were absolutely lapped up. In 2008, they started a process of using webcams. In 2012? There’s loads of broken links on the site. He’s no longer running it – it was handed over to LOCOG a year ago. But he can show us a photo of the webcam – a metal box on a scaffold on a roof in Stratford, with a camera, a hard drive and a 3G connection. The stadium cam was taking an image every 10 minutes during daylight – 90 images a day. There were no tall buildings north of the sites, so the contractors kindly built them a scaffold on top of the site office.

They started harvesting the photos into written blog posts – and from their into an image gallery. There’s a limited gallery of images left on the active site. They were a victim of the image gallery created within the CMS – rather than, say, hosting them on Flickr. But there are a lot of brand restrictions on what the organising committee can or can’t do. Non-sponsors couldn’t have a presence on the website, which limited their options.

The webcams were getting about 100,000 hits a month – during  period when the general site wasn’t getting much traffic. They were always the most popular part of the site.

They did videos of visits – like Tom Daley on the completed dive tower -, they did fly-throughs twice a year, and behind the scenes stories. They had to white label host the videos – as a non-sponsor like YouTube couldn’t have a presence on the main site. However, all the videos are available separately on YouTube itself.

He’s proud of what they did – they added something different to the content mix, not just adding to the editorial noise. They let people look into the park and see what was going on.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.