5 Reasons Why You Should Call 1-877-HI-NORAD On Christmas Eve

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, everyone was on their smartphones trying to figure out when Santa would arrive…

NORAD1_7.pngI’m not kidding. Starting December 24th, thousands of children around the world waiting patiently for Santa will call 1-877-HI-NORAD to get live updates on where he is at that very moment. Seriously.

Here are the 5 reasons you (or your kids) should call the NORAD hotline to find out where Santa is on Christmas Eve:

5.) Awesome people are waiting to answer your call

More than 1,250 Santa Hotline volunteers–including members of the American and Canadian militaries and their families, civilian employees of the Department of Defense and community members–will use the latest Avaya customer experience and contact center technology to tell people where Santa is.

4.) Companies lend NORAD their latest technologies to help track Santa

NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) uses the most sophisticated technology available to track Santa! Kris Kringle experts monitor data gathered from radar, satellites and Santacams to measure everything from the weight of the gifts he’s carrying, to the number of pounds he gains as he eats cookies and drinks milk on Christmas Eve. The Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) has extensively tested Avaya’s customer experience products and certified them as being able to handle this most critical of Christmas Eve tasks.

3.) NORAD Tracks Santa started by accident because of a typo!

In 1955, an ad for a department store’s Santa hotline mistakenly listed the number to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. The colonel answering the phones Christmas Eve didn’t want to disappoint the children who called, so he and his team provided live updates on Santa’s travels. A tradition was born. How awesome is that?

2.) They have Secret Santa Files

Go to NORADSanta.org to get questions about Santa (some of which, frankly, have even perplexed me) answered. For example, ever wonder how Santa can travel the world in 24 hours? What goes into his cutting-edge sleigh? How does he get down chimneys? NORAD knows.

1.) Kids find out when to go to bed

Santa is known to arrive between 9 p.m. and midnight, and only after children go to sleep. The only thing left to worry about is whether you are on the naughty or nice list…

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Avaya!

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11 Ways Avaya Technology can Improve Veterans’ Healthcare

Studies continue to show that veterans’ healthcare needs are increasingly complex. The total number of veterans relying on Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health care has substantially increased—even as the veteran population has been declining since 1980.

Many problems impacting veterans are similar to the general population’s challenges. Communication solutions are a key to solving many problems, according to “To Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds: Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization.” Staffs believe mobility and technology can help deliver better care. Recent surveys show:

  • 56% of physicians believe mobility could help expedite decision making
  • 39% say mobility would reduce time for administrative tasks
  • 36% believe it would increase collaboration among physicians
  • 26% reported it would increase time spent with patients
  • 40% of those surveyed said they could eliminate 11%-30% of office visits through mobile health technologies such as remote monitoring, email or text messaging

Given the right communications tools and mobile devices, government healthcare providers, are convinced that care would be improved. It’s no wonder. Approximately 80% of physicians use smartphones in hospital. But security is just as important as quality care and the patient experience. Consider these startling facts:

  • 100 million people were directly impacted by data breaches in 2015
  • 90% of healthcare organizations have had at least one data breach in the past two years
  • 5% of reported hacks in 2014 were in healthcare
  • Healthcare records are ten times more valuable than financial records on the black market

Communication technologies can securely enable higher quality care, reduce costs, and improve satisfaction for patients and employees alike, on- and off-site at Federal Government facilities managed by the VA and the Department of Defense. To ensure it can keep up with demand, the VA has expanded three key telehealth initiatives:

  • Clinical Video Telehealth platform—enables clinicians to use real-time interactive video conferencing to remotely assess, treat, and provide care to veterans
  • Home Telehealth platform—provides in-home care for patients with chronic conditions via mobile monitoring, messaging, and video technologies
  • Store and Forward Telehealth—streamlines communication, collaboration, and record-keeping among multiple facilities by allowing medical staff to share clinical information (e.g., x-rays, ultrasounds, or other test data) with a nationwide network of providers and specialists.

Enabling the VA to improve the patient “anywhere” experience requires technology that can support patient demands—from public and private clinics and hospitals to home-based care options. Battle-tested and proven automated Avaya solutions can:

  1. Improve the patient experience through a range of administrative tasks. Streamline the admissions process, facilitate faster patient discharge, remind patients of daily dosages, and make, track and remind patients of appointments from the hospital electronic health records.
  2. Maximize time that doctors and nurses spend with patients. Use mobile clinical collaboration solutions that keep providers, patients, and caregivers securely connected—anywhere, anytime, via smartphones and tablets. Action requests and alerts are handled quickly and seamlessly—patients receive the right care at the right time.
  3. Deliver quality experiences wherever patients are located—at home, in the field, on the road, or in a hospital—with the same quality of care. Mobile applications for intelligent wearable devices provide broader access to care and proactive patient monitoring.
  4. Enhance monitoring of patients through automated solutions. Use reminders and mobile applications to alert patients and care providers about scheduled therapy and medicine dosages.
  5. Beyond the hospital, keep patients connected to treatment and care providers by taking advantage of flexible, easy-to-use, mobile video and multimedia solutions. Crowded facilities employ mainstream technology to service non-critical cases on an outpatient basis, and remote facilities and wearable monitoring devices support consistent quality care.
  6. Ensure favorable outcomes with efficient patient admission and discharge processes, room preparation, post-op follow up, prescription management, test scheduling, and other workflows.
  7. Optimize productivity by communications-enabling hospital electronic health records with increased automation to reduce errors and facilitate collaboration.
  8. Support health information security with an Avaya flexible network that automatically segments traffic into distinct zones for guest Wi-Fi access, medical devices reporting, and patient records.
  9. Secure networks that have thousands of medical devices and public Wi-Fi. Avaya has an innovative capability for device isolation. Our Open Network Adapter securely locks down individual medical devices and easily adds new ones as required. The Adapter enables IT staff to quickly provision authorized access to employees, guests, and business partners on any device.
  10. Enable virtual solutions that are designed for public and private cloud implementation—you’ll gain effective management and upgrade paths designed for large-scale environments. IT professionals are able to determine which applications and services best support their needs through secure, hosted environments.
  11. Manage crises by automatically locating, connecting, and deploying extended care teams, including clinical associates, through a dynamic response team and notification system. With the capability to instantaneously expand and contract services, clinicians are available when and where they are needed most.

Healthcare agencies continue to seek innovative solutions that will advance the quality of veteran care And technology continues to make it possible to have a connected and secured experience at every stage of the patient care cycle—including healthcare anywhere that integrates mobile solutions, telemedicine, contact centers, and thousands of medical devices. Harnessing the right technology will help ensure that the best possible anywhere patient care happens now and for the next generation.

Social Security Administration Processes 500 Millionth Call Through Modernized Phone System

On the morning of June 16, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) processed its 500 millionth call through its Telephone System Replacement Program (TRSP)-driven modernized telecom system.

It was a milestone for Social Security, which began the TSRP with Avaya in 2007 and just celebrated its 80th birthday in August.

Social Security had long relied on a conventional, old-school PBX phone framework. Each of the agency’s 1,600+ offices had individual PBXs, and almost all had products that were nearing, or had reached, end of life.

“We were scrambling just trying to find parts,” explained Todd Markulik, the SSA’s contracting officer’s technical representative.. “We looked at our future, and realized a Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony solution would be a good fit for us as a way to really create a nationwide network.”

The agency worked with Avaya to create a cutting-edge IP telephony network and manage its average 400,000 daily calls. The SSA recognized the need to future-proof its system with an impending influx of Baby Boomers coming of age for Social Security.

Through the TSRP, SSA was able to streamline and consolidate systems, and cut costs by as much as 50 percent depending on office location.

“Previously, we had somewhere between 20 and 45 analog lines from a local phone company, and we were being charged $35 to $40 a month per line,” Markulik said. “When we moved to VoIP, we eliminated all but maybe eight of those lines.”

The carrier-grade, enterprise solution is government-owned and Avaya-managed, end-to-end. It features leading technology, from Network Skills Based Routing to Dynamic Virtual Forward, and gives the agency redundancies that help it support contact centers in four regions of the United States seamlessly. As a result, the agency was able to get through Hurricane Sandy, and major blizzards and storms without an incident.

The future of Social Security’s technology looks just as bright. Markulik pointed toward plans for an increase in soft phones, teleworking and VoIP capabilities in the near future.

“We’re well-positioned for the future,” he explained.


Creating Stronger Student Engagement in the Classroom

If you’ve been in a classroom recently, you may have noticed something different. Teachers are going beyond growing bean sprouts on windowsills and making papier mâché volcanoes to engage their students.

As technology becomes more and more a part of everyday life, it’s also turned into an essential part of the classroom. Avaya collaborated with one school district in Texas seeking to build a networking infrastructure to support its students, by creating an environment to support mobile student engagement. And quite frankly, what we created is just plain cool.

BYOD? No Problem!

At Pearland Independent School District, we collaborated with administrators to create a network that would connect teachers and students. Pearland, a city within the borders of Houston, is a community that’s passionate about its students. We outfitted the district with high-speed Wi-Fi and co-developed a plan to institute a “bring your own device” (BYOD) program for about 12,000 devices.

Students now have the ability to bring Wi-Fi-enabled devices, like tablets and smartphones, from home on certain days and into some classrooms. Students can connect with their desktops, home folders, and all of their work no matter where they are. We worked hard to ensure that this new network would scale with the district for years to come.

Teachers incorporate this technology into their lessons through SMART Boards, class websites, and email to make their teaching come alive. Because the technology supports the staff and creates a secure network, educators are able to take advantage of applications and tools designed to make learning more engaging.

Specifically, at Alexander Middle School, teachers have access to a cart stocked with Apple iPad tablets and a cart with laptops to further foster classroom activities.

All of this new technology means that students are able dive deeper into the material and creatively engage with what they’re learning. Teachers are able to tailor their lessons to different learning styles, resulting in better long-term performance for their students by allowing them to engage directly with their schoolwork.

Infrastructure Is Essential

Ultimately, we needed to make sure that Pearland Independent School District was prepared for the future, and we did that by introducing a scalable network infrastructure.

According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 77 percent of teachers report lack of technical support as either a minor or major challenge to incorporating digital technology in the classroom.

This is an area where Avaya shines. We made it easy for the Pearland Independent School District to use networking technology to engage students in their lessons. With a system that runs like clockwork, the district can focus on hiring teachers instead of IT administrators.

That’s our goal: to make things easy for everyone involved and to engage students. Avaya focuses on what’s important to educators and students alike, and create technology solutions that make it simple for students to engage with their lessons and for educators to save time.

While kids might think using an iPad in their math class is cool, we’re more focused on the fact that they’re more engaged with their lesson in the long run. Although, truth be told, we don’t mind being cool, too.