Hurricane tests readiness

Saturday, October 1, 2005

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.--For Bold Technologies, Hurricane Katrina proved the sensibilities of incorporating a disaster mode into its software. But the storm has also influenced the company's leaders to pursue a disaster recovery center.
"It has moved to the top of our priority list," said Rod Coles, president of Bold. "If they (customers) support us, we shall do that" within the next six months and before the start of the next hurricane season.
For this time around, however, it was the disaster recovery mode in Bold's Manitou central station automation software that customers depended on. When using this feature, an operator can control from what part of the country emergency signals arrive.
"You can get so many signals through the central station (during a storm of Katrina's power) that you can't deal with them," said Coles. This feature "helped them deal with the rest of the U.S. without being bogged down."
For Moe Athmann, president of Command Central, this feature enabled him and his operators to keep control of the scary situation. Based in Baton Rouge, La., the third party central station continued to monitor signals during the storm.
"I knew one of the things Manitou had was a back-up disaster mode," said Athmann. "We had calls coming in--1,200 in queue--and we immediately got 800 off queue with a few clicks of the mouse." Most of these signals were a result of low batteries and or loss of phone service.
"When the storm actually hit, police stopped responding to the burglar alarms," stated Athmann. "All of our medicals and fire were processed."
Hurricane Katrina tested Command Central's resolve for 36 hours, according to Athmann. But the station was prepared to provide food and water, as well as sleeping arrangements, to its operators.
Coles said he has always encouraged his customers to be prepared for any catastrophe. To bring this point home, early this summer the company hired Matt Narowski as a technical consultant to work with clients on their emergency plans.