Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it was recognized that the private sector should be included in disaster preparedness activities. The 9/11 Commission recommended that the U.S. DHS promote private-sector preparedness standards that establish a program with a common set of criteria and terminology. That program that was developed is PS-Prep, a voluntary certification for companies to comply with preparedness standards set by the federal government.
AT&T became the first company to become certified under the program in March.
"Private organizations across the country play a vital role in bolstering our disaster preparedness and response capabilities," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in a news release. "I commend AT&T for achieving PS-Prep certification, and encourage other private-sector partners to work with the PS-Prep program to further enhance the readiness and resiliency of our nation."
The program is administered through FEMA and enables companies to enhance their capabilities for planning, responding to and recovering from natural disasters and other threats, according to the agency’s website.
Over the past four years, AT&T has invested more than $950 million in its South Carolina wireless and wireline networks to improve their service quality and dependability, according to a statement from the company.
"We are proud to be the first company to achieve this homeland security certification, for it reflects AT&T's long-standing commitment to business continuity through disaster preparedness," said Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T South Carolina. "This accomplishment is a tribute to South Carolina's leaders who, for many years, have championed policies that encourage investment in advanced and reliable technologies across the state. As a result, our business and network operations are state-of-the-art when it comes to performing during and after a disaster or emergency."
AT&T also attributed the certification to its Global Network Operations Center, a state-of-the-art facility in Bedminster, N.J., that serves as mission control for the network at the heart of the company’s business.
[See how AT&T manages its network at Government Technology, Emergency Management’s sister publication.]
The company also has a Network Disaster Recovery program that includes more than 320 self-contained equipment trailers and support vehicles that can help recover or maintain communications services following a disaster.
The DHS adopted three standards for the PS-Prep program: