With all the recent weather calamities, talk and speculation about disaster recovery has re-entered the public consciousness. In addition to well known groups such as FEMA, the Red Cross, and United Way, there are also many non-profit organizations who are working hard to ensure that residents in Houston and other disaster-stricken areas receive the support they need. Recently, OnSIP partnered with the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) to provide crucial phone communications in affected areas.
What is the ITDRC?
The ITDRC was founded in 2008 to provide communications and technological equipment to communities in crisis. They offer "surge technology assets", or wide scale technology services and infrastructure that can be installed in distressed areas on short notice. Some of these services include:
- Voice / Data Infrastructure
- Notebooks / Tablets
- Workstations / Servers
- Copiers / Scanners / Printers
- CCTV / Video / AV
- Wireless Connectivity
- VSAT & LTE Connectivity
- LMR Radios / Repeaters
- Satellite Programming
- Analog, Cell, SATCOM, and VoIP Telephony
- Voice / Video Teleconference
ITDRC is staffed by volunteers, most of whom have an IT or technical career background. Volunteers come from different states across the US. The hardware and services that the ITDRC relies on are mostly donated from technology companies. Our Director of Customer Success, Larry Browne, is a current member of the ITDRC.
Among its recent donations, the organization acquired an NIMS Type 1 mobile command center from the EchoStar Corporation, a 52 foot semi-trailer that provides mobile work space and emergency communications for disaster response operations and community relief efforts.
What is the ITDRC up to right now?
The ITDRC has just engaged in its largest deployment ever in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and will likely head to the Southeastern US to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The organization is partnering with local, state, and federal units deployed in the Houston area and the surrounding environs, including Port Arthur, Beaumont, and other cities on the eastern side of Texas that were devastated by Harvey's historic flooding.
As of last week, 24 volunteers from 8 different states have been deployed to 13 different sites across the Texas region. The group is partnering with technology companies such as Dell and OnSIP to bring much needed technological infrastructure to shelters and other deprived areas, to aid the recovery effort, and to help the victims regain access to critical services.
What can I do to help the ITDRC?
If you're someone with limited technological experience, you can make a donation to the ITDRC. The organization relies on a combination of grants, service donations, and monetary donations to stay afloat.
If you do have a background in technology, you can also donate your own time and manpower to the cause by becoming a first responder or an affiliated volunteer who can help with the nuts-and-bolts of these relief campaigns.
Technology companies can donate services and equipment to help orchestrate the relief infrastructures that ITDRC deploys. As a company, OnSIP has donated phone service capabilities to ITDRC in the wake of Harvey. Many other companies have donated services and equipment, including Access Networks, ObiHai, and Winegard, among others.
ITDRC: The Necessity of Technology
While the relief efforts in media reports often focus on basic necessities, having the IT infrastructure to connect affected areas to the rest of the world is equally important. Organizations like the ITDRC are critical in providing professionals and equipment to those in need.
Calling a family member, checking personal and business email, and communicating wellness to the outside world are now seen as essential in times of crisis. As more storms continue to cause massive damage, like Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean and southern Florida, the basic dignity of being a digital citizen can reassure victims and nervous onlookers in profound ways. The ITDRC is bringing hope to those who have been hit the hardest, and we're proud to work with them as they light the way for thousands of survivors.