The Technology Behind a Presidential Visit

One need only look at this snapshot of a sea of cell phones during a recent visit from President Barack Obama to see that a presidential team relies heavily on technology. High profile visits to the university such as those by presidents look to the OCIO for equipment, networking and information technology expertise while on campus.

Bill Phillips, OCIO assistant director of Business Relations and Services, has helped coordinate a number of presidential visits over the last several years.

"Preparing for an event like this takes a concentrated effort from a variety of very skilled OCIO employees," Phillips said. "We are able to meet the robust needs of everyone involved in a very short period of time."

Hosting a president includes consulting with the presidential staff to provide secure telephone lines, data connections, and broadcast circuits. Members of the OCIO consult with the White House Communication staff and the Secret Service directly to ensure the utmost security.  In addition, the OCIO hosts as many as 200 representatives from local and national media who cover the event and provide IT support in the Emergency Operations Center in Blankenship Hall.  Typically, we only receive one to two days of advance notice of this type of visit. In that time, a breadth of OCIO employees forms a strategic team to aid in the preparation process. Individuals from Infrastructure (which includes the Telecommunication and Networking team) and Customer Experience (including IT Service Desk employees) work together to ensure all needs are met.

Fortunately, the Office of the CIO is accustomed to preparing for such an event and accommodating the variety of needs that it brings.

"We are now able to focus our energy more effectively," Phillips said. "Because the needs don't really change, we understand the scope in advance and anticipate the needs that this type of visit brings."

Craig Ryan, OCIO service desk analyst, was on location a recent visit from President Obama.  “It was impressive to see how smoothly the event went," Ryan said. "The team that plans for these events are experienced and well prepared."

The effort that goes into an event of this magnitude does not go unrecognized. OCIO employees who supported the success of President Obama’s March 2012 visit received a Team GEM Award, a quarterly OCIO award given to teams who Go the Extra Mile. In addition, the team's effort was recognized by the White House Communication staff, which presented each individual with a certificate of excellence.

If you have questions about technology services for these types of events, contact Bill Phillips, OCIO Customer Experience ( or 614-247-4455).

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