Dialing 211 for Gustav

A combination of emergency preparedness planning and technology enabled 211 call centers in Louisiana to field thousands of information calls from residents during recent hurricane evacuations.

The United Way of America gave a $500,000 grant to Louisiana for technology to enable Vialink, New Orleans area's non-profit 211 phone service, to relocate its city offices to a temporary post in Baton Rouge. The technology used VoIP to re-route calls to the temporary site where evacuated agents could answer them.

In addition, phone calls were also directed to the state's five other 211 services, and overflow calls were automatically answered by three 211 call centers in California that volunteered their services. During Gustav's approach, callers sought information on evacuation, shelters and road closures.

For more:
- New Orleans Times-Picayune reports on Vialink's 211 call center re-routing.

Related stories
VoIP helps hurricane response - FierceVoIP
Telecom industry responds to Gustav - FierceTelecom

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