Journalist Tim Mitchell finds out what goes on behind the scenes with I.T. at Palace.
I’m at Crystal Palace F.C. to meet Simon Pardo from Computer Care. His expert team are specialists in the sports industry and are responsible for all the I.T. at the Premiership club. In fact Simon’s own role at Palace is so key that he has a permanent seat on the Senior Management Board.
I have asked him whether I could get a general flavour of what he and the rest of the Computer Care team do for the Club. The team have worked with the Eagles for a number of years now.
I meet Simon in one of the bar areas. He introduces me to the Palace staff he is having lunch with. I immediately tell that Simon fits in well. He is treated as just another fellow team member – there’s lots of friendly banter.
I then begin my tour of the superb facilities with Simon. I'm shown into one of the main offices and Simon begins tapping away on a laptop. I can see a visual map on his screen.
“This is the virtual network which is where we can control the Wi-Fi. The fans can only access one part of the network, the Press only another and so on, even though the Wi-Fi comes from the same physical boxes. It gives extra layers of protection,” says Simon.
Computer Care have specialist skills that I would imagine few other I.T. companies – if any - would be able to match. Simon’s team are not only looking after the equipment but also leading project developments as well. It is a huge responsibility.
Simon finishes what he is doing and we go outside to the pitch. There’s a match on – not the Eagles – but two teams who have hired the facilities for the day.
“I was up here at 7.30 on Sunday morning for the Hull match,” says Simon. I'm also beginning to see the dedication to the Club that Simon and the team give. Computer Care are on site most days and for every match.
We move on and I point to the neatly coiled cables which are tucked away against a wall.
“We’re responsible for all of that,” Simon says. I wonder how many miles of cabling there are. I can see at least 30 cables.
We move into the commercial office suite. There are some new laptops which need configuring and a replacement phone that has to be swapped with the old one. Computer Care also looks after the phone systems on site which I had not realised.
“And the CTV and the broadcast equipment,” says Simon as we move onto one of the lounges downstairs.
“We project managed the installation of the AV equipment in this room,” says Simon as he shows me a complicated box. He then checks the computerised till system to make sure it is working as it should – the team look after this as well. This is on a normal office day, a match day must be non-stop for Simon and the team.
Saving Time And Money
I’m taken to one of the executive boxes and shown a television set. Behind it is a small control box. “There are around 150 TVs on site and thanks to our system we can turn them off and control all of them at once.
"It takes seconds. In the past it was a good 40 minute job and someone had to physically turn off each set. We’ve saved the club both time and money.” It seems that if there is a better way of doing something, Computer Care will suggest it.
Finally, Simon shows me a new ticket system (main picture above). He project managed the installation. It’s a smooth looking piece of equipment. He point out the runners at the bottom which will close the gates should anyone “tail-gate”.
With that quick tour, Simon is off to the Emirates stadium for a meeting. It’s no wonder that sporting facilities, such as Palace, feel that Computer Care is simply a vital player to have on their teams. Staff and fans rely on them; Computer Care delivers more than ever is expected.
If you are involved in the sporting sector in particular and would like to find out more about Computer Care's work in this area and how they could help you, please get in touch with Tony today:
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