IT Providers Respond to Attacks With Outpouring of Donations

Government information technology sellers responded to the recovery efforts of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the best way they knew how: By offering the services and equipment that are their mainstays.

In the days following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many IT companies set up relief funds and made donations to the Red Cross. But many also freely gave of their core services.

Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass, volunteered 25 of its infrared cameras for recovery operations, as well as the use of several of its aircraft. The cameras, which detect heat given off by an object or a person, were used to help find survivors in the rubble.

"When the New York Fire Department's sector chief was informed of the offer of assistance, his only comment was to 'get them here as quickly as possible' and put them to work," said Raytheon employee Greg Kuzniewski. "The chief was well aware of the capability of our systems and was grateful that we could make them available."

Raytheon's aircraft shuttled blood supplies and equipment to New York and elsewhere from around the country. They also flew medical specialists into Washington to relieve Red Cross staff.

Telecommunications provider Sprint Corp., Westwood, Kan., opened its network as a free conduit for communications. Sprint provided nearly 2,000 wireless phones to rescue workers in New York City, and another 300 phones to workers in Washington, for rescue communications.

Sprint outlet stores and pay phones in New York also offered free emergency calling. Additionally, Sprint has donated phone cards for free long-distance calling on other wire-line phones.

Similarly, the incumbent local telephone provider for New York, Verizon Communications, Inc., Bedminster, N.J., opened its 4,000 Manhattan curbside pay phones for free use. The company also made available more than 200 wireless phones to serve lower Manhattan as well.

AT&T Corp., New York, donated $10 million in prepaid long distance calling cards.

Others responded with personnel. Accenture Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda, pledged $1 million in services by employees who wished to volunteer to help New York resume its IT-related operations.

Chuck Saunders, president of the health care global industry group for Electronic Data Systems Inc., Plano, Texas, found he was able to be of assistance almost immediately after the planes had struck the World Trade Center. The doctor, about to attend a meeting as an EDS representative, was blocks from the towers when they were struck. Borrowing a stethoscope from a paramedic, he began caring for disaster victims in a basement of nearby building that was set up as a medical center.

Other companies put their customer service centers on full alert. GTSI Corp., Chantilly, Va., initiated a 24-hour ordering service, granting priority to emergency service orders from the departments of Defense and Justice, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Guard, intelligence agencies and other government emergency service providers.

Likewise, Dell announced it was expediting shipment of products to the Department of Defense health care facilities in the New York and Washington, businesses effected in the World Trade Center attack and government agencies involved in disaster recovery.

Telecommunications company Qwest Communications International Inc. expedited circuit orders for hospitals, as well as donated office space, network connectivity, Web hosting facilities and back-up services for its New York customers without service.

Both Cisco Systems Inc., and IBM Corp., set up emergency technical assistance centers.

Several IT companies had employees who perished in the attacks, either as passengers on the hijacked planes or in the buildings that were hit. Companies suffering losses include PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin Corp., Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., Oracle Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Cisco , Boeing Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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