There was lots to see at Cisco Connect Toronto this year, but there was one item that truly stole the show(floor). And there’s good reason for that.
The Cisco Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV) is a mobile communication center designed to establish interoperable communications in emergency situations. It does this through using a variety of Cisco products and services, including Cisco Unified Communications Manager and IPICS, a software package that allows devices on different frequencies to communicate so that first responders are able to talk with each other while responding to an emergency situation. You can read more about IPICS and the NERV on the Cisco blog.
The NERV is supported by Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps), a highly skilled and dedicated team that can mobilize and respond to natural disasters and other catastrophes when normal communications infrastructure have been degraded or destroyed. Incredibly, TacOps maintains several employee-volunteer engineering teams at Cisco’s San Jose and RTP campuses that respond to these disasters. Nicknamed DIRT – or Disaster Response Teams – these employees volunteer their time to train on, and deploy with, the NERV emergency response vehicles.
When the need arises and the DIRT program is activated, Cisco’s volunteer employees are contacted. If they are able to go, they are deployed to the disaster zone to facilitate emergency communications.
Surprisingly, the NERV can be fully operational in 15 minutes. It can alsobe shut down within 15 minutes in order to redeploy to another location and powers its systems using an on-board generator or shore power connection to an external source.
What’s so impressive to me is that Cisco’s TacOps team and NERV trucks are deployed to disasters anytime and anywhere. In recent years, TacOps and NERV have responded to disasters including Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, Boston Marathon bombing and fertilizer plant explosion in Texas.
The NERV was incredible to tour. You realize, standing inside, that the vehicle isn’t about selling technology. It isn’t about selling at all, actually. It’s about helping people and communities when they need it the most. And that makes me proud to be a part of Cisco.