Mobile apps keep UC Irvine on the cutting edge

iPhones are helping athletic staff at University of California, Irvine stay connected

Between scouting for new recruits, traveling to tournaments, and practicing for game day, the athletic department staff at University of California, Irvine (UCI) is always on the go. For years, the department has been heavily invested in social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, but keeping fans informed on the road had proved a challenge. So back in 2011, UCI equipped all 80 of its athletics staff with iPhones, loaded with a full suite of social media and communications apps.  

Now UCI’s coaches and athletics staff are never out of touch: they can answer email, plan practices, and update social media from their mobile devices. “With the iPhone, we are able to maximize the time when we can work,” says George Rodriquez, application developer at UC Irvine. “With our teams’ staff constantly traveling, their iPhones give them more hours in the day.”

The coaching staff even uses the phones to film practices on the go, and break down the footage frame by frame to analyze players’ form. “Mobile not only helps coaches keep in touch, it also allows us to be much more agile overall and stay on the cutting edge,” says Rodriquez, “Most importantly, it keeps us competitive with other universities.”

Just as mobile opens up new opportunities, it also brings with it new security challenges. UCI coaches now store sensitive data, including recruiting information and game plays, on their devices. So to mitigate the risk, UCI manages its devices with AirWatch, an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) tool. “EMM enables universities to roll-out, configure, manage and secure mobile devices without having to handle each device individually,” explains Preston Winn, the director of business development at AirWatch.

AirWatch allows Rodriguez and the university’s IT staff to vet all the phones’ apps, and manage the devices from a central access point housed on campus. If any device is lost or falls into the wrong hands, Rodriguez and his staff can remove sensitive data remotely. EMM also allows Rodriguez to monitor the phones to make sure coaches do not accidentally violate complex NCAA rules that regulate player-coach contact.

Rodriguez says UCI is an early adopter of mobile for athletics, and as other schools follow their lead, Rodriguez recommends patience. “One of the important things is to have a department that is supportive and willing to consider how to implement mobile from a variety of angles,” he says. “It takes time to successfully marry security and ease of use.”


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