For the 20th year, Verizon is partnering with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to provide a toll-free hotline for children to track Santa’s whereabouts as he and his reindeer travel across the globe to spread holiday cheer.
The program itself dates back to 1955, when a young child, trying to reach Santa, dialed the misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper. Instead of calling Santa, the child called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center (the predecessor of NORAD).
Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born.
For the last two decades, Verizon has helped support this program by enabling children worldwide to connect with NORAD volunteers on all their burning questions, from Santa’s location to the names of the reindeer and the best cookies to leave out.
Company technologies that aid with the program include:
- The interactive voice response system (IVR), which enables children to interact with the system and learn exactly where Santa is in his flight
- A call management system that uses error handling software (failover logic). Even if the child cannot reach a call center volunteer, they will be told where Santa is at that point in time.
- Expanded 5G services that enable people to connect with NORAD volunteers and which supports an enhanced tracker to monitor call volume for Santa.
“From the very beginning, 20 years ago, the Verizon Business Consulting Services team has and continues to play a critical role in the initial design and deployment of the Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) that is so critical to connecting children with Santa,” said Tara Sunderraj, Verizon Business Consulting Services vice president, in a prepared statement. “Through the years, as technology has evolved, so have our roles, from development to assisting with the overall design and audio messages that let the children actually interact with Santa’s elves.”