How the City of Pharr Transformed From the Least Connected City to a Technology Leader


Nestled within the Rio Grande Valley, the City of Pharr once grappled with severe connectivity challenges and was once coined the worst connected city in America. Guided by a forward-thinking approach, the city embarked on a transformative journey to fix that. Over a short period of time, the City of Pharr went from being the least connected to a modern city with a robust IT infrastructure that can support their smart city initiatives and even support the community as an MSP.


This ambitious undertaking epitomized collaboration at its core. Engineers, consultants, and partners converged, understanding that success depended on collective effort. Pharr's transformation resulted in a robust network architecture, integrating cutting-edge technologies to fortify its digital infrastructure.

A Modern Network is the Backbone of a Smart City

In the City of Pharr, the government's leadership envisioned a broader scope for their technological advancements. Initially aiming to address the connectivity needs of residential areas, they soon realized the extent of neglect across other sectors, including businesses and industries. Recognizing the pressing need to support not just residents but also business communities and industries crucial to the city's economic fabric, the city's initiative grew into a comprehensive endeavor to serve everyone.


In the City of Pharr, a robust network stands as the catalyst for a multitude of community-enhancing endeavors. This fiber network forms the foundation for an array of smart city projects, revolutionizing connectivity and safety measures. From upgrading public Wi-Fi and video surveillance to scaling up to gigabit capacity, the network's versatility empowers initiatives like integrating traffic control systems and implementing AI-enhanced surveillance. This infrastructure not only supports existing innovations but paves the way for future advancements, from gunshot detection systems to numerous other technological leaps, shaping the City of Pharr's journey toward a safer and more technologically enriched community.


Maintaining Cybersecurity and Mitigating Risks

The City of Pharr understands the importance of cybersecurity as it is responsible for the handling of sensitive data. This emphasis on security is not just a goal, but a foundational strategy woven into every facet of the city’s network architecture. The network itself has proven a pivotal contributor to fortifying its cybersecurity posture, since Extreme Fabric Connect is inherently secure.


Tips for Working with Non-Technical Stakeholders

Effective communication is key in municipal projects involving non-technical stakeholders. The City of Pharr's approach highlights this by involving the community in decision-making through surveys to understand citizen’s needs and set affordable prices. This inclusive strategy ensured that over 60% of citizens aligned with their pricing plans. The city's active engagement with its community, led by the Office of Strategic Excellence, shows its commitment to understanding citizen priorities and ensuring projects resonate with their needs. The city's approach showcases how involving and listening to the community drives successful projects.


Addressing Workforce Challenges

Workforce challenges in local government can be daunting, especially in smaller communities like the City of Pharr experiencing increasing demands with limited staff. Managing an extensive network with numerous switches becomes a balancing act when the team size remains restricted. The City of Pharr's team faces the challenge of scaling up slowly due to budgetary constraints and the need for a meticulous hiring process.

With only one network administrator and the recent addition of a network analyst, the workload remains considerable, overseeing around 115 switches, a number set to increase with plans for upgrades. The City of Pharr's approach involves strategic upgrades, transitioning from older software to newer management platforms like ExtremeCloud IQ, and simplifying operations through a unified system accessible from a single interface.


The City of Pharr's transformation stands as a testament to its unwavering commitment to collaboration, adaptability, and community-centric technology. Its journey showcases the power of collaboration, uniting diverse stakeholders towards a common goal of bridging digital divides.

Through adaptability, the City of Pharr navigated workforce challenges, harnessing technology to maximize efficiency despite limited resources. However, its most striking feat remains its community-centric approach. From surveys shaping pricing models to deploying essential services in city parks, Pharr ensured that every technological stride was aligned with the community's needs.

Ultimately, this city’s success lies not just in technological advancements but also in the meaningful impact made on the lives of the city's residents, fostering a safer, more connected, and inclusive community through innovative technology.

About the Author
Cammy Perry.jpg
Cammy Perry
Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Cammy is a Content Marketing Specialist at Extreme Networks, leveraging her expertise to craft thought leadership and engaging content.

Full Bio