How NORAD tracked Santa Around the Globe Christmas Eve

Now Playing: Avaya Tech Talk #002 – NORAD Santa – This week Guy covers the history of the 57 year old NORAD tradition of tracking Santa around the globe Christmas Eve.

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Good day all! Guy Clinch here, advocate for the government customer in Avaya’s product development organization. Welcome to this week’s episode of Avaya Tech Talk.

T’was the night before Christmas and all across the planet young imaginations pictured “the jolly old elf” and his flying sleigh drawn by reindeer speeding their way to deliver a Christmas morning of joy. So it was true in 1955 when a Colorado newspaper erroneously printed the phone number for the command center for what today is known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD.

NORAD watches the skies for airborne and space based threats to North America.

In command that night December 24, 1955 was Colonel Harry Shoup. Rather than disappointing the young callers, Col. Shoup instructed his staff to report on Santa’s location.

2012 was the 57th anniversary of this great tradition which each year since has grown. The effort has become so large that NORAD has partnered with a wide array of government and private sector entities to meet the challenge. This year more than 100,000 calls and more than 10,000 emails were processed. Information was also available on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the website Visitor to the site view interactive maps, videos from Santa cams strategically placed across the globe and other information satisfying to restless young yuletide enthusiastic minds. The information is presented in eight languages to accommodate a global audience.

Avaya has been a part of helping NORAD for more than a decade. In the early days it was Avaya’s Interactive Response self-service portal automatically answering callers with real-time updates of Santa’s progress. I remember my children dialing with great expectation. They thought it was really cool that their dad worked for a company with a direct connection to Santa.

In 2012, callers to 877Hi NORAD or 719-556-5211 for international callers reached more than 1,200 live volunteers at the “NORAD Tracks Santa” Operations Center. Operators relayed information that was displayed on a large screen in the call center at the NORAD operations center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Avaya Aura® unified communications system and the Avaya contact center solutions connect to the outside world over 48 trunk lines dedicated for the effort. To ensure Avaya’s real-time collaboration solutions are up to this important task, they have undergone extensive testing and certification by the Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC).

NORAD Tracks Santa using nearly no tax dollars thanks to contributions from commercial partners including Avaya and Avaya’s channel partner Carousel Industries.

Described as “one of the most festive places in the United States, possibly in the world,” by General Charles Jacoby, commander of NORAD and the US Northern Command, like so many holiday decorations and ornaments the “NORAD Tracks Santa” Operations Center has packed up its tools as Peterson Air Force Base has gone back to the tough work of protecting the US and Canada.

It won’t be long though before these Santa’s helpers are back at their stations continuing this noble tradition when the Chris Cringle takes to the sky once more on December 24, 2013.

Thanks for joining me here today on Avaya Tech Talk. You can subscribe to our episodes on iTunes and follow us on twitter hashtag#APNpodcast


Talking Tech, this has been your host, Guy Clinch the advocate for the government customer at Avaya!


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Warmest regards,
Guy W. Clinch

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