NEW YORK - As Verizon network personnel track, plan for, battle and oversee recovery from storms this hurricane season, they'll use a dynamic tool that capitalizes on more than a century and a quarter of experience fighting storms: an updated checklist that codifies years of lessons learned, is timed to match a storm's progress, and targeted to specific work groups.
"Our network, construction, repair and operations teams have coped with just about every conceivable weather situation and post-storm crisis that nature can create," said Stephen Butera, director of business continuity planning for Verizon Services Operations. "And we have always had checklists of our own. But now most of the leading telecommunications companies have migrated to a common checklist so we all start from the same position with the same understanding of the work we need to do to keep all Americans linked."
This year, the area preparedness plans of each of Verizon's five telecom teams will be based on the checklist.
The list, created by the Network Reliability Steering Committee that was appointed by the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), will guide service teams before, during and after storms.
The checklist is comprehensive. Dozens of items deal with communications, from worker phone number lists to backup emergency satellite handsets, and from charging batteries to checking on workers after storms pass. Many more items on the list deal with practical matters like moving trucks to high ground or sandbagging outer doors in low-lying areas, and making sure fuel will be available -- and from whom -- to operate diesel generators that power the network when commercial power grids go down.
Leveraging the expertise of his business continuity partners in Verizon Business, Butera took the checklist one step further. He applied the existing Verizon Business six-step scale of readiness, called Storm Condition Levels 0-5, and assigned each checklist item to a level on the scale to assure the activity was done in time for the arrival of the storm. The scales range from StormCon 0 (preplanning), counting down 84 hours through Storm Con 4 (evacuation) 24 hours to zero hours before the storm, and StormCon 5 (post-disaster level). In practice, each level is activated as the company's weather monitors observe changing conditions.
"It's a lot like the U.S. Military's defense alert model where once a situation reaches a certain category or time stage, you know exactly what needs to be happening to maximize your success," Butera said.
Butera also added four other columns to the checklist grid, outlining which Verizon organizations had to execute each step on the list. The company's area and local crisis teams, the real estate team, VSO network and VSO field operations, and Verizon Telecom area operations all have varying tasks assigned by the checklist.
"We have tens of millions of individuals and hundreds of thousands of businesses, from the smallest shops to the largest global enterprises, who can't afford to have us fail when challenged by a storm," Butera said. "Lots of experience and a fanatic level of attention to detail make the difference for many of these customers.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 86 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.