Severe weather is a constant challenge for Verizon Wireless. During much of the year, thunderstorms, damaging winds, hail and tornadoes are a threat. In the winter, snowstorms and ice storms can wreak havoc. And while the weather can impact the network’s ability to deliver an optimal customer experience, it also takes a toll on network equipment.
Avoiding potential damage to valuable network assets is top of mind for the Network Team. Until recently, most of the company’s network assets for Emergency Preparedness Disaster Recovery (EPDR) in the Kansas/Missouri Region were stored outdoors where they were vulnerable to weather extremes.
But now the region’s EPDR assets are safely stored 60 feet underground in a 20,000 square foot cave. Located in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the cave provides safe and convenient storage for emergency assets including portable Cells on Wheels (COWs), Cells on Light Trucks (CoLTS), HVACs on Roadside Equipment (HORSEs), Generators on a Trailer (GOATs), Repeaters on a Trailer (RATs) and Cell Repeaters on Wheels (CROWs).
“We needed a place to store our EPDR assets that could protect them from the weather and allow us to keep them ready for fast deployment,” said Tony LaRose, manager of operations, Kansas/Missouri Network, Verizon Wireless.
According to LaRose, the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri in May 2011 was the initial inspiration for finding a secure location. Joplin is not very far from the Kansas City area — approximately 150 miles south – and experiences the same weather extremes.
“We wanted to make sure that if a major tornado hit here instead of Joplin, our network emergency vehicles and other equipment were protected and at the ready to quickly respond,” LaRose said.
From the cave location in Missouri, Verizon Wireless can dispatch emergency equipment to virtually all locations in Kansas, Missouri and Southern Illinois within three hours. The cave also supports emergency needs in other parts of the country as needed. For example, emergency wireless equipment was sent from the cave to Moore, Oklahoma after last year’s tornado and to the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“Innovation is at the core of our culture at Verizon Wireless,” said Brendan Fallis, president of the Kansas/Missouri Region. “This spirit of innovation extends throughout our network organization, which is always focused on providing our customers with reliability.”