Mayfield Village, Ohio-based vehicle insurer Progressive group of insurance companies’ significant investment in technology, systems and processes that provide back up and redundancy paid off last week as the largest power outage in U.S. history hit the group’s Cleveland-based headquarters.
Planning for an outage of this magnitude began in 1995, when the companies were preparing for Y2K. An 80,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art “Data Center” was built to house and protect the companies’ information systems, so that technology would always be available for agents to service their customers. Last week, the Progressive Data Center – also known as “The Bunker” – proved to be successful.
Generators at the Data Center in Mayfield Village (a suburb of Cleveland) started up shortly after 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 14, 2003, as millions of people lost power from New York City to Cleveland. Once the operations center learned of the scope of the power loss from our multiple satellite feeds, additional contingency plans were activated. Progressive’s systems, from mainframe to client-server, never missed a beat:
* Redundant phone lines carried data between the Data Center and all call centers and claims offices.
* Calls that are normally serviced in the Cleveland call centers were diverted to the Tampa, Colorado Springs, Tempe, Sacramento and Austin call centers. Calls were also diverted from 13 claims offices, allowing representatives to provide a virtually perfect customer experience for all callers.
* When Cleveland’s city water was cutoff, the Data Center tapped into its 132,000 gallons of reserve water to cool the water that is pumped to the air conditioners and regulate the temperature of system environments, allowing systems to run properly.
* The Post Processing Automation (PPA) team continued to print customer correspondences such as bills and cancel notices. Concerned with traffic and airport delays in Cleveland, the team sent all critical print volume to our PPA facility in Tampa, helping to ensure that agents and customers get their mail on time.
* The group’s information technology team worked through the night and early morning to recover phone switches, network routers, and servers in 16 Cleveland buildings as power was restored. As of opening business day on Friday, all Cleveland call centers were open for business.
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