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Stories of Service

Posted on: September 17, 2019

Information Technology: All the Bytes We Cannot See

packed arena at Allen Event Center. crowds are watching Overwatch players on stage

Invisible networks, designed by I.T. staff, make Allen secure, agile and resilient.

When twelve of the world’s top Overwatch players took the stage in front of thundering fans at Allen Event Center, a municipal technology budget was likely the last thing on their minds. Yet as the match unfolded on the arena’s jumbotrons (and to global audiences on Twitch and ESPN 2), the City of Allen I.T. department became an unsung hero of the eSports industry.

“Overwatch League hosts told us our team delivered the best network and infrastructure experience they had seen in any location worldwide,” said I.T. Director Eric Matthews.

This feat required multiple levels of flawless service. I.T staff worked with the Overwatch League to install new, high-capacity fiber lines throughout the facility. Registers were reconfigured to ensure seamless connectivity and reduce wait time for concession purchases. Finally, Allen Event Center’s wireless network was upgraded to allow thousands of hyper-connected fans to Tweet, stream and post throughout the competition.

“The event was unique, but the effort was not,” said Matthews. “We strive to bring that expertise and out-of-the-box thinking to every technology challenge our City faces.”

In the last year, the department prepared firefighters for high-risk calls and helped Finance staff track tax information with original, data-based maps. They sped up the City’s hiring process with new document software. They improved data security and reduced downtime by migrating more City data to cloud-based servers.

And, like those visiting eSports superstars, I.T. staff engaged in their own international battle—one where the bad guys are armed not with guns, but Google accounts.

“We intercept more than 4,500 cyberattacks each day,” says Matthews. “Every time hackers up their game, we’re here to ensure City employees do the same.”

That means building better spam-catchers to divert troublesome emails and teaching employees to spot spyware, ransomware, email spoofing and other phishing attacks.

“Every citizen who pays a water bill, signs up for a recreation class or submits a building permit trusts us with their data,” says Matthews. “Through investments in infrastructure, tools and training, we’re constantly working to ensure that trust is not broken.”

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