12.20.2017Enterprise Tech

Behind the scenes: Verizon’s ongoing support of public safety in the Golden State

By: John OMalley
Robotic Assistance Vehicle

The 2017 wildfire season in California has been particularly devastating, with millions of acres of land and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed in both northern and southern California. It was with those fires as a backdrop that public safety and municipal officials from the San Jose area got a firsthand look at how Verizon engineers its network to maintain connectivity for first responders and citizens during emergencies, as well as the tools and technologies we can deploy to support public safety as they respond to major events. 

Verizon wireless switching centers

Verizon wireless switching centers are the nerve centers of the local network, routing millions of voice calls and data sessions every day

The briefing gave the officials an insider’s look at the rarely seen “nerve center” of the local network – our network switching center – as well as demonstrations of some of the mobile assets we can deploy to assist their emergency response efforts, even robotic equipment that can access locations a first responder can’t. Together, the demonstrations represented the level of commitment and investment Verizon makes every year to support public safety nationwide.

Paul Lynch, Senior manager, Network Assurance discussed the multiple layers of redundancy built into the highly secure facility, including massive generators and batteries than can provide days of backup power in the event of a prolonged commercial power outage. Built to withstand the effects of earthquakes and severe weather, the facility is so vital to maintaining communications for public safety, it was considered a “critical asset” by the Department of Homeland Security during the 2017 Super Bowl.

Safety officials get up close and personal with the workings of a wireless switch location

Local public safety officials get up close and personal with the workings of a wireless switch location

Curtis Mentz, manager, Business Operations, gave the attendees an overview of the Verizon Crisis Response Team (VCRT) – a team that’s ready to respond to emergencies nationwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The VCRT team regularly supports public safety, government agencies, emergency management agencies, and relief organizations with a variety of mobile and ruggedized equipment. That equipment includes all the mobile assets Verizon has been deploying to support the wildfire responses across the state, including portable cell sites, portable generators, and one of our newest pieces of equipment, a satellite pico cell on trailer (SPOT). A SPOT can be on the air in about 15 minutes and uses a satellite connection to provide 4G LTE calling capability and Wi-Fi coverage in areas where wireless network coverage has been impacted by a storm or other event. The VCRT team can also supply ruggedized phones, tablets, and other devices, including modems, jetpacks, enterprise-grade 4G LTE routers and charging stations.

Verizon’s technology partner, Robotic Assistance Devices, demonstrated a remote-controlled, autonomous robot outfitted with sensors and six cameras for a 360-degree video view of the places it goes. Able to run on battery power for up to 12 hours, the robot can be used for on-site security, video surveillance, environmental monitoring, perimeter control and other jobs where it’s either impractical or too dangerous for a person to go.

generators and batteries

Those aren't batteries, THESE are batteries. The network facility has massive onsite generators and batteries that can keep the building – and the network – up and running for extended periods of time in the event of a commercial power failure

Business Sales client partner Mike Mainord then led a discussion of Verizon’s decades-long and ongoing support of public safety locally and across the country. Referencing the nearly 200 emergency events Verizon responded to in California in 2017 – including our response to the recent Napa-area fires and the fires that were currently burning in southern California – he told the first responders and municipal officials in attendance that Verizon knows they have a choice of who they want to be their emergency communications provider. Verizon wants to continue to be their choice and they have our commitment that we’ll continue to support them to help them achieve their mission.

Business sales managing partner Adrianne Koehler-Downie closed the meeting by reiterating Verizon’s commitment to always be a leader in the public safety arena and to continue to provide competitive products, services and pricing to the first responders who keep our communities safe.

Learn more about how Verizon continues to support public safety and to advocate for interoperability, innovation and choice.

For related media inquiries, please contact story.inquiry@one.verizon.com

About the author(s): 

John O’Malley is an external communications manager at Verizon writing about 5G and network solutions. 

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