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With the east coast reeling from the effects of hurricane Sandy, utilities are doing their best to restore power to millions who are still without power and other services. Cisco’s NERV truck has been deployed to help utilities and other emergency responders re-establish communications for incident management and service restoration.

The technology used in the NERV Truck that enables utilities to connect their disparate voice and video communication systems is called Internet Protocol for Interoperable Communication Systems – we like to call it IPICS.  With IPICS, utilities are able to connect devices that operate on different frequencies and make them work together so that field crews from one utility can communicate with those from other utilities, as well as other first responders such as police, fire, and emergency medical services.  This helps the utilities and first responders to mobilize, coordinate, and manage all resources towards restoration.  It helps keep all the disparate groups on the same page.

Communication is one of the keys to maximizing the impact in any restoration effort.  Before electric utilities can restore service, they need to assess the damage to their systems to better predict the scope of the restoration work.   Having the ability to enable your workforce and other first responders to collect vital pieces of data helps speeds up the assessment process.  The utility can then share their assessment and plans with external stakeholders, such as other utilities and first responders as well as the media, government officials, and others who are waiting for the information to share with the general public. 

As you’ve probably noticed, when natural disasters strike, getting out accurate information in a timely manner can be very helpful. When the general public does not hear from their utilities and first responders they tend to panic and feel powerless.

Once they know the extent of the damage and the timeframe for restoration, they can make informed decisions and take next steps.

  1. Fun writeup by Bob Plankers on The Lone Sysadmin: Cisco NERV
  2. ABC in San Francisco did a video: Cisco trucks help restore internet after disasters
  3. Visit TacOps Facebook page for real-time updates

 

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