August 23, 2012
Cloud Preserves Virginia 211 Call Center Despite Extreme Weather, Massive Outage
Millions were left in the dark recently this summer after a massive derecho blew across the East Coast, specifically hitting the state of Virginia rather hard. While these Virginians were forced to wait up to almost two weeks to have their power restored, one site remained completely and flawlessly intact – the state’s 211 call center system, which dodged the monstrous bullet of suffering from the heat of summer’s peak, as well as avoiding the mess of transferring agents and workers to homes and off-site centers – something similar public information and non-emergency service providers across the state had no other choice but to do.
“It was like a wind tsunami,” explains Barb Putney, state coordinator for Virginia 211, of the hard-hitting storm.
So how did this call center maintain power and efficiency throughout this unexpected natural disaster and outage? By moving to a cloud-based solution only two years ago to provide cloud-based call center services.
By working within the cloud, call center agents were not only able to work through the storm, but were able to work from virtually anywhere with a sufficient Internet connection. This portability and easy accessibility is only one of the many great benefits of working within a cloud-based call center.
211 and 311 call centers serve as a vital component for individuals across the nation, where they can call for non-emergency agents with various inquiries ranging from unsafe working and road conditions to accessing information on government and town services and resources.
With five of Virginia’s related call centers being disconnected for over a week, many wondered who to turn to, as these kinds of centers serve as a primary solution for emergencies such as this.
“In emergency events like this, 211 and 311 services act as a conduit to help state officials understand the reach of disaster and also provide the public with information about how to secure necessities like water, or find cooling centers,” a CivSource article elaborates.
By working within the cloud, however, state officials were better able to respond to the overflow of issues as a result of the storm, ultimately being able to manage call-in services to the public without suffering downtime or being offline.
“We handled more calls than we normally do, even though we were working in this way and it was basically seamless to the public,” Putney says. Even more, the 211 center is in the works of contracting other emergency services to support the same type of information continuity across jurisdictions, writes CivSource.
“We have had strong support from the state on this initiative, and it’s provided us with more than we could have hoped for,” Putney said.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey