COPS’ Monitoring Services Remained Uninterrupted During Nashville Tornado

COPS ability to provide monitoring services to alarms without interruption comes from its network of six monitoring locations with multiple layers of redundant technology and diversified staffing.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Early last week, a deadly storm spawned tornadoes across the middle of Tennessee that killed at least 25 people and knocked out power and communications to an estimated 45,000 Nashville businesses and residents.

COPS Monitoring’s UL-listed Tennessee monitoring center, which sits barely a mile outside the path of the one of the tornadoes, was able to continue monitoring services without interruption despite the loss of both power and communications.

The site lost electricity and continued to operate on its own generator power, but it also lost all three carrier-diverse redundant communication paths and the ability to respond to alarms for approximately nine hours.

However, because COPS operates a network of six monitoring locations consisting of multiple layers of redundant technology and diversified staffing, its ability to provide monitoring services to alarms continued without interruption, according to the company.

“During the unexpected temporary loss of our Tennessee site, alarms and calls continued to be handled by our other five sites,” explains COPS Monitoring President Jim McMullen. “Furthermore, our overall active staff was impacted by less than 16%. We were able to absorb the staffing reduction and increased alarm traffic resulting from the violent weather in the short-term by altering break schedules of people already on shift at our other monitoring centers. In the longer term, we compensated by overstaffing our other sites with additional team members.”

COPS says it began its preparation for redundant monitoring nearly two decades ago in the wake of 9/11. Not just for possibilities like the Tennessee tornado, but also for the countless types of localized conditions that can compromise a central station’s ability to monitor alarms such as earthquakes, flooding, fires, blizzards, hurricanes, a fiber cut, civil unrest, and even outbreaks such as the current coronavirus, COVID-19.

“Opening a redundant site was a very small initial step in the right direction,” says McMullen. “It certainly solved some technological challenges by giving us more than a single place to deliver calls and alarms in the event of a site failure. Unfortunately, operating just two sites did not solve the staffing redundancy needed to maintain quality during a site outage. It’s simple math, really; 50% of your staff can’t handle 100% of your alarm traffic, let alone the additional traffic usually created by extreme circumstances. The fact is, no matter how advanced your technology is, there isn’t any place on the planet to build a monitoring station that isn’t vulnerable to some sort of natural or man-made influences, which is precisely why we mitigate potential outages with redundant technology and by diversifying our staffing across all six of our locations.”

COPS would like it to be known that you can donate to those affected by the storm through the Red Cross by texting Red Cross to 90999 and make a $10 donation. You can also donate online, here.

“The hearts and prayers of all COPS employees go out to the families impacted by the Nashville tornado. This tragedy is a painful reminder that a catastrophe can strike anywhere, at any time, and without warning,” says McMullen.

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