AVST's Katrina Aid Highlighted in Frost & Sullivan Report

Hurricane Katrina is estimated to be the most expensive natural disaster in United States history, resulting in one of the most devastating humanitarian crises the country has ever seen.  "One of the factors that have had a significant impact on the disaster relief operations is the breakdown of communications infrastructure caused by the hurricane," states Frost and Sullivan's enterprise communications industry analyst Krithi Rao.  "The disaster area is riddled with line breaks, damaged base stations and power failure."

The article, titled "Technology Companies Lend a Helping Hand in Katrina Relief Efforts," cites examples of how technology companies like AVST are leveraging their product portfolios to replace and reinforce parts of the affected area's communications infrastructure to aid in recovery and relief efforts. 

Frost and Sullivan took note of AVST's involvement through the donation of its call processing, voice messaging, unified messaging and advanced speech solutions to major relief organizations as well as the enhancement of the communication capabilities of existing customers in the region to increase their relief efforts.  The article states that AVST "has been able to adequately meet the requirement of setting up reliable messaging infrastructure or enhancing existing infrastructure to support emergency communication very quickly.  This success has been due to a combination of product excellence and company response."

"AVST's solution allows itself to be deployed within a matter of hours as compared to other messaging products that take a week to be set up," Rao states.  "The design interface is easy to use and enables new applications to be designed and deployed painlessly.  Along with the solution, the company's service also allows it to respond to urgent customer needs."

AVST donated a 96 port CallXpressR Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System to the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency.  The system was an information access point for people to receive the necessary addresses, 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 online 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.  AVST donated the software to add an additional 12 ports, and its reseller partner, Mercury Communications, donated the hardware and labor for the installation.  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.

The Red Cross is also planning to implement an AVST speech-enabled automated attendant that will allow callers to speak the reason for the call and be routed appropriately.

In addition, AVST is indirectly assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a global provider of engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance (EPC) services and an AVST CallXpress customer for several years.  When the company was contracted by FEMA to help in the rebuilding effort, it contacted AVST channel partner, Kayenell/Unity Telecom, on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend to request a 32 port CallXpress system that needed to be configured in 24 hours and in place at the site by the following Wednesday.  The request was fulfilled by AVST and the CallXpress system was functional within the required time period. 

Gary Rogerson, a spokesperson for the global EPC provider added, "From a customer's perspective, looking back on the installation, it's an incredible feat that a customer could contact someone on the weekend and get this kind of work done in that amount of time." 

The system 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.

To access the Frost and Sullivan article in its entirety, please visit http://www.frost.com/prod/servlet/market-insight-top.pag?docid=48632149.

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