Sprint partner HurricaneTrack.com deploys to the Gulf Coast to provide real-time storm updates
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), October 04, 2013 - As Tropical Storm Karen continues its path towards the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi and is projected to become a possible Category 1 hurricane before making landfall, Sprint (NYSE:S) is preparing its network, mobilizing Network Disaster Recovery staff and equipment, and strategically staging Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT) personnel and resources to serve customers and mitigate storm impact.
Sprint’s preparations include:
- Actively monitoring Tropical Storm Karen’s continued path while instituting flood prevention measures at Sprint network facilities and retail stores.
- Fully fueling all permanent generators and mobilizing portable generators into threatened areas to ensure they’re available to meet response needs based on the current track and intensity of Karen’s wind speeds and rainfall.
- Verifying operational readiness of generators and emergency equipment at all mobile switching centers and network Points of Presence (POP) – the facilities where traffic enters and leaves the company’s global IP network, which facilitate dedicated data services for Sprint’s corporate and government customers, as well as other critical communications.
- Ensuring Sprint network strike teams are on standby and ready to deploy following Karen’s landfall and assessed impact.
- Providing any local public safety agency in need of emergency communications assistance with 14 days of service free of charge for 25 Sprint ERT wireless devices in states where an official “state of emergency” has been declared.
- Preparing and mobilizing the Sprint Emergency Response Team’s SatCOLT (Satellite Cell on Light Truck) assets, mobile phone and broadband devices, reservist staff and other equipment at its Orlando, Fla. hub to provide wireless communications service to local first responders, emergency command centers and other public safety officials in the field.
Whenever a hurricane or tropical storm threat is issued, Sprint’s Network Disaster Recovery and Emergency Response teams implement a standard preparedness and response plan approximately 24 to 72 hours before the storm is predicted to make landfall, including:
- Strategically preparing network resources, personnel, and Sprint’s wireless and wireline infrastructure for pending storms.
- Reviewing and activating Sprint’s Network Disaster Recovery plans to help ensure the continuity of Sprint’s network and overall service following a storm’s landfall.
- Determining the Sprint Emergency Response Team’s support of public safety, emergency medical personnel, and various state and local agencies.
Sprint is committed to serving the emergency response community
The first of its kind in the industry, the Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT) was created in 2002 as a cross-functional group of seasoned, full-time personnel with expertise in providing immediate restoration of wireless voice, data and IP service, and communications coordination among disaster relief and emergency response agencies, public safety officials and medical personnel.
Sprint ERT has conducted more than 5,600 deployments, and provided emergency wireless support for close to 1,300 events. To facilitate this multi-agency coordination during times of an emergency, the team maintains an inventory of 25,000 Sprint handsets, mobile broadband devices, and fully charged Sprint® Direct Connect® phones at secured facilities in Dallas, Orlando, Fla. and Sterling, Va.
In addition to having experience in military and public safety communications, continuity management, and disaster response, Sprint ERT is supported year-round and nationwide by an ERT Reservist program. These 1,100-plus ERT Reservists are trained annually on all aspects of Incident Command System (ICS), National Incident Management System (NIMS), Emergency Operation Center (EOC) staffing and management, and disaster response.
To rapidly address client needs round the clock, Sprint ERT also maintains a 24-hour hotline, 365 days a year, and during times of state and federally declared national disasters, provides 25 mobile devices and wireless service free of charge for 14 days from the date of declaration to state and local agencies. Agencies in need of critical communication support from Sprint’s Emergency Response Team should contact the ERT hotline at 1-888-639-0020. Other requests should be sent via email to ERTRequests@sprint.com.
Real-time storm updates through HurricaneTrack.com and Sprint’s network
Since 2001, Sprint has worked with Wilmington, N.C.-based weather data and hurricane awareness expert Mark Sudduth of HurricaneTrack.com on his team’s efforts to provide live, immediate and seamless reporting during every hurricane season. Sprint has supplied Sudduth and his team with Sprint 3G and 4G LTE mobile phones and broadband devices to give them fast and reliable mobile Internet connectivity for their field data collection efforts and online video reporting. Sudduth has reported on close to 50 named tropical storms and hurricanes along the Atlantic Coast since 1999.
As Tropical Storm Karen’s forecast was announced, Sudduth deployed to the Gulf Coast region to monitor the storm’s track, provide real-time updates via video, and disseminate data feeds on Karen’s impact.
“Through every major tropical storm and hurricane, the wireless resources and support my team has received from Sprint have been truly vital to our study and real-time reporting,” Sudduth said. “No matter the storm condition – it can be a Category 1 or a Category 5 hurricane – Sprint’s 3G and 4G services and devices have been reliable and always available when we need them.”
HurricaneTrack.com’s official mobile app – Hurricane Impact – features a daily video blog, live weather data and webcam images, exclusive tracking maps, a live "Surge Cam" developed specifically for the app and video reports from the field during tropical storm and hurricane landfall events. Hurricane Impact is currently available for iOS and Android devices.
Preparedness and post-storm tips for Sprint customers
The process a wireless call takes to complete is vitally dependent on commercial power and Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) – two resources that are typically impaired following a major hurricane or tropical storm. Wireless consumers are encouraged to use the following tips to prepare for a hurricane, severe flood or other natural disasters:
- Wireless networks sometimes experience heavy traffic during emergency events, so remember to send text messages, rather than call.
- Keep your wireless phone and backup batteries charged, but be aware that an interruption of wireline and commercial power could affect wireless calls. If possible, get extra batteries and charge them.
- In times of commercial power outages, a car adapter for your wireless phone should enable you to recharge the battery.
- Keep phones and necessary accessories in a sealed plastic bag to avoid water damage.
- Load family and emergency numbers into your wireless phone.
- Use your Sprint camera phone to take digital pictures or video of your property and valuables before the storm hits. Upload the images to your personal pictures inbox on www.sprint.com so you have "before" pictures in the event of any storm damage.
Sprint offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint served more than 53 million customers at the end of the second quarter of 2013 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint as the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all 47 industries, during the last five years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in both its 2011 and 2012 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
Crystal Davis, 571-288-6806