Connecting the user experience for volunteers, athletes, and fans

Connecting the user experience for volunteers, athletes, and fans

How 2015’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games became the most connected ever.

When the organizing committee for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am and Parapan Am games began envisioning the largest multi-sport event ever hosted in Canada, the team was clear on its goal. These games were going to be the most connected ever.

What did that mean?

  • It meant connecting mobile volunteers, athletes, and fans with voice, video, messaging, and social media.
  • It also meant delivering that connectivity and collaboration in a dynamic environment, where sites would go up right before events and be taken down immediately post event.

“We felt as an organizing committee that we wanted this to be one of the most connected games ever,” says Kevin Harshaw, director, venue technology and IT communications, 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. “Achieving that goal required ensuring that all venues had Wi-Fi, connectivity, big data, and lots of Internet services.”

Plug in, light up, and work
To deliver the reliability and security for such an ambitious initiative, Harshaw partnered with Cisco® and Allstream.

  • Tapping Allstream Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) based on Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS), Harshaw was able to leverage a number of industry-leading, cloud-based collaboration applications as a versatile, fully integrated solution, managed in real time.
  • Key applications included voice and video, instant messaging, presence, mobility services, IP, and video endpoints, along with an integrated contact center.
  • Allstream complemented its cloud-based HCS solution by providing Internet connectivity and remote management for the many networks operating at new, existing, and temporary venues.

“Allstream provided a terrific level of support. The team developed detailed engineering plans on how it was going to implement solutions that we devised collaboratively. Leveraging Allstream best practices and providing dedicated staffing during the Games enabled the team to deliver solutions seamlessly,” says Harshaw.

For every site “build,” time was of the essence. The technology and connectivity had to work when the plug went in. Execution had to be flawless. There was virtually no time to fix issues.

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“There’s an expectation that those services are always there, always on, and that you have unlimited bandwidth to meet your needs, whether it’s to send photographs or stories or to do social,” says Harshaw.

  • With next-generation IP collaboration tools, the versatility of video, and the reliable, secure IP infrastructure, workers, athletes, and fans were able to communicate, collaborate, share content, and post on social media across the entire games environment.
  • The infrastructure also supported nonstop ticketing services, live broadcasts, event results, and security information.

91,900 connections delivered successfully
The user experience at these games was unparalleled. Staff was more productive and collaborative.

In total, 91,900 connections were delivered successfully, and 98 percent of those connections exceeded expected performance metrics significantly.

“HCS played a huge role in communications, not just for us, the organizing committee, but also for a number of our client groups,” says Harshaw. “We were able to provide services for groups including The National Olympic Committee, the host broadcaster, and the international press so they could run their own IT shops and deliver services to their stakeholders and audiences.”

Pan Am by the numbers

The 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto were the largest, multi-sport events ever hosted in Canada. The scope of the communications matched the scope of the event.

A large, dynamic environment:

Pan Am Games:

  • 31+ venues spanning more than 350 km in Toronto and 14 other municipalities in southern Ontario
  • More than 20,000 volunteers and more than 6000+ athletes

Parapan Am Games (held two weeks later):

  • 10+ venues spread across southern Ontario (leveraging some existing Pan Am sites, but on different days)      
  • More than 10,000 volunteers and more than 1600 athletes

Technology, delivered from the cloud for the first time:

  • 1571 HCS seats at Games time
  • More than 9900 endpoints deployed including fixed, mobile, and softphones
  • Applications included Cisco Jabber®, presence and conferencing, integrated telepresence, and extension mobility

Equipment to operate the Games:

  • 1500 PCs
  • 600 printers/copiers
  • 1200 phones
  • 1200 wireless access points
  • 6000 network drops
  • 250 network switches

The most connected Games ever

  • More than 91,900 connections completed successfully throughout the duration of the Games
  • 98 percent of connections exceeded expected performance thresholds

Toronto 2015 volunteers provided live service to more than 42,000 attendees using Cisco Telepresence®

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