December 21st, 2012 by Leonard Klie

Children wondering when Santa and his sleigh will arrive (hopefully they’ve been good enough all year to warrant a visit from jolly St. Nick) can get a ready answer this Christmas Eve thanks to a toll-free North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) hotline powered by phone systems provider Avaya.

Last year the special call center received more than 100,000 calls from children around the world who were following Santa’s every move . This year, an army of 1,200 volunteer trackers will be on-hand to monitor Santa’s Christmas Eve trek across the night sky again and share what they see with callers. They will be at their posts from 4 a.m. MST on December 24 through the early morning hours of December 25.

The NORAD operations center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., will use Avaya Aura unified communications and contact center solutions to connect each caller with a member of the skilled team tracking Santa. To ensure Avaya’s real-time collaboration solutions are up to this important task, they have undergone extensive testing and certification by the Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC).

The NORAD Tracks Santa program began in 1955 after a youngster dialed a misprinted Santa hotline number and reached a commander at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs.  The commander didn’t want to spoil the holiday for callers expecting to reach Santa, so he had his staff provide updates on Santa’s travels.

“We know Santa travels quickly, but we’re certain NORAD is up to the challenge.  We’re proud to provide the same mission-critical Avaya systems for NORAD’s Track Santa hotline that the organization uses year-round for the important work it does in the defense of our nation,” said Steve Derr, chief technology officer at Avaya Government Solutions, in a statement.Children around the world can rest assured that the best people and the best technology are being used for this important task.”

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