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Pan Am Games: A case study in collaboration

More than 91,000 connections were made successfully during the Games; not a single dropped call was reported. In a new video, the director of venue technology and telecommunications for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games discusses the critical role that hosted collaboration solution technology played in connecting the Games to the world.


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Believe it or not, the Rio Summer Olympics is less than six months away. We say that, because it almost feels like last summer’s Pan Am/Parapan Am Games held here in Toronto just ended. Canada put in a memorable performance, topping 200 medals for the first time ever to come in second place behind the U.S.

When the winners were receiving their medals, however, how many of us stopped to consider what led up to that moment? Years of training. Collaborating with coaches and teammates. Reviewing past performances. Setting goals. Tracking progress. Practicing skills and drills. Recovering from setbacks. Testing new equipment.

Deploying and managing IT for a huge international sporting event is kinda like that, too. In a new video case study, we provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what it really took to pull off a world-class IT performance at the 2015 Games in Toronto last summer.

The venue

The Games featured more than 30 sites in 15 municipalities spread out over 350 square kilometres in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario. The competition was the largest sporting event ever held in North America, surpassing even the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Game time

The Pan Am Games (the largest ever) took place from July 10 to 26. The Parapan Ams (also the biggest ever) unfolded from Aug. 7 to 15. That’s 26 days of competition when IT had to bring its best game to the field.

The team

As the official information and communications technology provider for the event, Cisco had to build an end-to-end cloud-based network infrastructure. To draw up a game plan, Cisco called on its longtime partner, Allstream. That led to Allstream becoming the Games’ official provider of hosted collaboration solutions (HCS) and managed IP communications.

The challenge

This partnered solution had to work for a wide range of users including 7,500 athletes and 23,000 paid and volunteer staff. Fans, media, broadcasters and event officials also relied on the network for everything from scorekeeping to social media sharing.

IT staff and equipment had to be mobilized rapidly with surgical efficiency. There were no second chances because the deadlines were inflexible. So engineers had to test their skills on a daily basis to make decisions, improvise and overcome setbacks in real time.

And you thought athletes were under crazy pressure to perform.

The equipment

Allstream deployed 1,571 HCS seats featuring Cisco’s IM, mobility, presence, conferencing, integrated telepresence and extension mobility services. The partnership culminated in a solution featuring all of that plus voice, video, voicemail, integrated messaging and an integrated contact centre. Allstream also deployed more than 9,900 mobile and fixed endpoints ranging from laptops to landline phones.

The performance

More than 91,000 connections were made successfully during the Games; not a single dropped call was reported. Ninety-eight per cent of the delivered connections exceeded the expected performance threshold by a wide margin. Games staff said the overall solution saved them time, boosted their productivity, simplified their jobs and helped them collaborate better with coworkers.

Is this just a cheerleading story about the largest ever deployment of integrated, mobile, cloud-based collaboration solutions for a sporting event? No. Cisco and Allstream proved the value of teamwork, equipment management, and being fast and flexible on the fly. Specifically, Allstream showed that cloud-based collaboration could deliver high performance in the most challenging of situations.

It looks like the success of Toronto’s Pan Am/Parapan Am games could help build a bigger fan base for cloud in the enterprise.

Kevin Harshaw, director of venue technology and telecommunications for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games discusses the critical role that Allstream played in delivering advanced hosted collaboration solution technology that successfully connected the 2015 Games to the world. Watch the video here.

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