How Verizon is helping communities recover from disasters

Wed, 2015-06-10 06:00 -- SCC Staff

We often joke that we can’t live without our mobile phones, but after a disaster, many people find a surprising amount of truth in that statement. They can provide a valuable link to keep in touch with loved ones, get the latest disaster response information and access community services.

With that in mind, Council Lead Partner Verizon has made sizable investments to help restore communications networks in the wake of a disaster -- sometimes powering up emergency wireless networks before first responders can open aid stations. Its efforts were recently profiled by Android Central.

Big Red connects communities
Perhaps the biggest resource in Verizon’s emergency response fleet is Big Red, a generator-powered, 44-foot trailer that contains 50 workstations, complete with laptops and phones. A dish on top can connect the workstations to Verizon’s network, even if cell towers in the area were destroyed.

Big Red has proven useful in the past. First responders can use it as a base. It can also be used to give people affected by the disaster a place where they can fill out and file applications for aid or simply let family and friends know they’re OK.

Smaller response vehicles can also provide wireless service, either serving as temporary cell towers to make up for service lost in the disaster or to provide a signal in remote areas where service normally isn’t needed, such as at a forest fire.

Focus on community service
Of course, phones are useless without power, and providing power is another part of Verizon’s response efforts. Its emergency vehicles can serve as mobile charging stations, allowing people -- whether or not they’re Verizon customers -- to recharge their phones so they can stay connected.

After Hurricane Sandy, Verizon stores have also served as emergency centers. The company opened its retail stores allowing people to recharge mobile devices or even borrow phones to make calls.

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