Scottish ITer keeps the World Cup's lines open

The party is over and the curtain has come down on the World Cup for another four years. ITer Scott Davidson is coming home along...

The party is over and the curtain has come down on the World Cup for another four years. ITer Scott Davidson is coming home along with the thousands of other fans who travelled to Japan and South Korea. But Davidson won't be returning to a mountain of debt and no annual leave for the next three years - he managed wangle a seven-week business trip to Japan, writes Nathalie Towner.

Davidson was seconded from his role as a technical support engineer in Scotland to take a seven-week contract providing first-line telephone support for the 20 World Cup stadia and two international media centres.

The opportunity came up because his employer Avaya was supplying the converged voice and data network that underpinned the competition. "I was approached by my boss and asked if I was interested. He knew of my keen interest in soccer. I support Glasgow Rangers and have followed them across Europe," says Davidson.

This was his first international assignment as well as his first trip to Japan and he has been making the most of it. "I went to Osaka for the day and had quite a few days out in Tokyo and have been trying to see as much of Japan as I can," he says.

Davidson has of course found time to watch a few football matches. He managed to get tickets for Cameroon v Saudi Arabia, England v Nigeria and the England v Brazil match. Surprisingly for a Scot, he supported England while

the team was in the tournament. "Of course I would have liked to see Scotland at the tournament, but it makes sense to get behind any home team that makes it to the finals," he explains.

"The atmosphere here has really varied, some days you wouldn't know there was a World Cup going on but then suddenly absolutely everyone is wearing a Japan shirt. They close down shopping malls and put on big screens, the bars are crammed and TVs are all pointing out into the street."

Davidson has been working nine-and-a-half-hour shifts at the International Media Centre in Yokohama, where up to 2,000 journalists and broadcasters gather to work, file stories and attend press briefings. For the techies, the morning shift runs from 7am to 4.30pm and the late shift runs through to 2am.

"My responsibility has been to monitor the fault system that generates alarms in the system. I ensure that the telephony and data systems are fully operational and I am the first point of contact if anything goes wrong," says Davidson. "We are basically providing the data network for the media to use."

Each network team comprises six techies and a manager. They have been drawn from Avaya sites across six continents.

"About two thirds of the people here are from the US and the rest have come from from all over the world. There are people here from countries like Mexico, Argentina, Germany and Hungary," says Davidson.

The mix of nationalities in the workplace has ensured a healthy level of football rivalry. "The Spanish techies were really upset when their team didn't go through, and we have been giving the French techies lots of abuse, but it has all been just good fun," says Davidson.

He says going to Japan has also been a unique learning opportunity. "I have been able to learn about all the different parts of the network, we have all fields covered by the six people in the team and I have been able to learn from the best people in the company.

"We all have similar roles but cover specific products. One colleague just works on the links between the media centre and all the stadia. I have learned some valuable data networking skills, such as basic Cajun configuration and monitoring of Cajun devices."

Unsurprisingly, the pressure was really on when the matches were being played. "Suddenly there are lots of people standing behind you, but the real priority is that there are no problems," says Davidson.

It is going to be hard going back to the normal routine in Glasgow, but Davidson is hoping he will stand a good chance of being asked to cover the 2006 World Cup in Germany. "The whole thing has been tremendous and has totally surpassed my expectations. The whole experience of Japan is a real eye-opener, it is an incredible country," he says.

Read more on IT legislation and regulation