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Telecom Tech Aids Hurricane Relief Efforts
[September 30, 2005]

Telecom Tech Aids Hurricane Relief Efforts

Hurricane Katrina, arguably the most expensive natural disaster in United States history, has triggered an international outpouring of help and assistance. Corporations are doing their part, not just through monetary contributions, but by offering products and technologies that can help relief workers do their jobs better and faster.

According to an article recently published by Frost & Sullivan, the breakdown of communications infrastructure caused by the hurricane has impeded the disaster relief operations. Communications companies are helping to ease the crisis by leveraging their product portfolios to quickly replace and reinforce parts of the affected areas’ communications infrastructure.

One such company, AVST, has been working with several different charities and government agencies to offer unified messaging and advanced speech solutions that help disseminate important information to people in affected areas and enhance emergency call center capabilities.

AVST’s President and CEO, Hardy Myers acknowledged the telecom industry’s teamwork and generosity in the wake of the Katrina disaster. “We are honored to take part in the concerted effort within telecommunications industry to assist our country and fellow citizens in a time of great need,” said Myers. “It is touching to see how corporations nationwide have stepped up to donate money, products, personnel and services to aid the relief efforts.”

Joining in the relief effort, AVST donated a 96 port CallXpress® Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System to the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. The system was the first centrally located information access point for people to receive the necessary address, telephone numbers and directions to locate safe and affordable housing assistance centers by telephone, particularly in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina that will not have Internet and on-line access for many months.

The American Red Cross, an AVST customer since 1999, also received additional port capacity for their CallXpress system, giving them the ability to support more incoming calls. CallXpress answers all the calls for the 1-800-Help-Now telephone number. The system’s automated attendant routes callers seeking assistance or wanting to make a donation.

In addition, AVST fulfilled a request from FEMA for a 32 port CallXpress system that is primarily being used by FEMA personnel working on restoring telecommunications and sewage services in New Orleans. The system currently provides messaging capabilities for the FEMA operations but is expected to also perform automated attendant functions.

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