Wireless Carriers Corral COWs, GOATs to Prepare for Natural Disasters
NEWS ANALYSIS: Natural disasters can come any time, but each year there will be tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards, wild fires and more, all of which can wreak havoc with communication systems.Howard County, Md.—I'm standing in a compound surrounded by enough mechanized equipment that it looked like a military operation preparing for battle. To be more exact, it was a compound occupied by what might seem like a herd of farm animals. In front of me, parked next to a huge red tractor-trailer was a COW, next to that, a COLT. Parked behind them was a GOAT. Elsewhere, there were hastily erected tents with temporary workspaces, and then an airtight tent supplied with HAZMAT suits and a decontamination station. Placed near the decontamination station I saw radiation detectors, chemical agent detectors and other devices. Next to that was oxygen breathing apparatus similar to, but much newer than, what I'd trained on in the Navy. This was just a tiny portion of the arsenal that Verizon Wireless was preparing so the company could do battle against the forces of nature. Perhaps there would have been more in this carefully concealed compound, but the company was already battling massive flooding in the Midwest and south.
Tom Serio, an executive on Verizon's business continuity team, had been telling me what happens when the company prepares to respond to natural disasters. The plan is to locate a disaster response team just outside the area that will be directly impacted by whatever's coming and then rush in immediately. Serio recalled Verizon's response to Superstorm Sandy in late October 2012. "We got there before the first responders," he said.