Network Disaster Recovery

Exercises

NDR recovery exercise in Chicago, IL in May 2016

The NDR Team held its first recovery exercise in early 1993 near Atlanta, GA, and completed its 76th field exercise in Chicago, IL in 2016. The NDR drills are used to validate and refine the recovery processes, to train team members and to work with new recovery equipment as it comes into the trailer fleet. The exercises also give the NDR members opportunities to work with local emergency management agencies.

An NDR exercise is usually held on an open parking lot, but exercises have been held on city streets (Phoenix), vacant urban land (St. Louis), and open fields (Arlington, VA). And the drills have been held in a variety of weather conditions: 100-degree Fahrenheit heat (Denver), 95-degree Fahrenheit heat plus humidity (Arlington, VA and Tampa), and 24 inches of snow (Salt Lake City). Working through real-world variables keeps the team prepared for a response in any location at any time of the year.

One or two days before an exercise, NDR team members escort the recovery equipment convoys from the warehouses to a staging area near the recovery location. Over the course of the next two to five days, an empty lot is transformed into a modern telecommunications network office, replicating the same steps that would be used in an actual response.

Throughout each drill, metrics and issues are logged by team leaders and by the incident management team. A standards team reviews issues after each drill or deployment and documents their resolution. This quality cycle has been a key feature in the program’s development—eliminating predictable problems, highlighting training needs and fine tuning the recovery processes.