Portable call centre ready for emergencies

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2014
portable call centre
JOHN HAWKINS/ Fairfax NZ

JUST IN CASE: Emergency Management Southland manager Neil Cruickshank with a emergency device called the hedgehog. 

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It's the size of a suitcase and can service a whole town.

Emergency Management Southland manager Neil Cruickshank has a fashion accessory like no other, a suitcase that is a portable call centre.

The suitcase was invented to be used in emergencies and, after 12 months of trials, is finally ready for when disaster strikes. "It's probably never going to get fully tested until a full emergency."

The device, affectionately known as a hedgehog because of all the antenna coming out of it, connects to cellphone networks.

"It will serve as a backup in case the existing phone system deals with overload, or we can set it up in a separate location if we have to shift for any reason."

Cruickshank said the capabilities stretched beyond emergencies, and private companies could hire it out to set up temporary call centres.

The $8000 device would be valuable in emergencies because it was so easy to move, so it could be set up in towns such as Te Anau or Bluff if necessary, he said.

"The hedgehog increases our capability to communicate, which is the key in any civil defence emergency."

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