NORAD Santa Tracker Delivers On Facebook, Twitter, Mobile Apps - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Government // Leadership
Commentary
12/24/2015
10:06 AM
50%
50%

NORAD Santa Tracker Delivers On Facebook, Twitter, Mobile Apps

InformationWeek spoke with Canadian Royal Navy Lieutenant Marco Chouinard of the NORAD Tracks Santa team to get more information on how the organization pulls off the demanding tasks of keeping up with the jolly old elf and sharing his up-to-the-minute status on social media. Here's what we learned.

11 Cool Ways to Use Machine Learning
11 Cool Ways to Use Machine Learning
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Once a year, North America is invaded from the air. And the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is cool with that.

For the 60th consecutive year, NORAD will track Santa's annual visit to Canada and the U.S. on Christmas Eve. The military organization will monitor every move made by Santa Claus and his eight airborne caribou, provide a courtesy fighter escort to the jolly old elf, and offer up-to-the-minute updates on Santa's position to news organizations, callers, and visitors to the operation's website, or its Facebook and Twitter pages. There are also NORAD Tracks Santa mobile apps for iPhone and Android users who prefer to monitor St. Nick via smartphone or tablet.

(Image: NORAD)

(Image: NORAD)

InformationWeek spoke to Canadian Royal Navy Lieutenant Marco Chouinard of the NORAD Tracks Santa team to get more information on how the organization pulls off the demanding task. Lt. Chouinard said that the entire team is made up of approximately 1,500 Canadian and American personnel, civilians, and their families. The volunteers will staff phone banks and social media sites for roughly 23 hours straight to make sure that children and parents have accurate information on Santa's path.

The long hours are necessary because NORAD Tracks Santa doesn't simply serve a North American audience: The operation's website is available in eight languages. According to Lt. Chouinard, "Last year, there were 21.8 million visits to noradsanta.org from 234 countries and territories. On December 24 we received over 134,00 calls and answered over 6,500 emails."

NORAD is on social media, as well. Chouinard said that the operation has more than 1.6 million Facebook fans, many of whom will use the Facebook page to follow Santa's progress. In order to keep information flowing to all those individuals, NORAD Tracks Santa has been preparing throughout the year.

(Image: NORAD)

(Image: NORAD)

The Canadian NORAD Region named its flight escort crews and tracking teams at the beginning of December. The four aircrews and tracking teams will escort Santa and his sleigh from the time they are initially detected until they are handed off to the U.S. NORAD teams. In a prepared statement, Major-General David Wheeler, Commander Canadian NORAD Region, said, "The men and women of the Canadian NORAD Region keep watchful eyes over North American airspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's a great responsibility to ensure Santa's safe passage around North America so that he can continue his journey of goodwill and cheer, and we're honored to celebrate 60 successful years of this gratifying mission."

(Image: NORAD)

(Image: NORAD)

The story of how NORAD (originally CONAD) began its Santa-tracking mission is subject to some argument and a bit of historical revision. What is beyond argument, though, is that NORAD Tracks Santa has become a part of many family traditions and a yearly reminder that there are human beings within and behind all the machinery making up the airborne portions of our national defenses.

For technology executives, NORAD Tracks Santa is an example of an effort to humanize off-putting technology in a way that speaks to the audience in a heartfelt way. And that such an effort, if done well and for long enough, can take on a life that informs both the audience and the tech organization itself.

**Elite 100 2016: DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JAN. 15, 2016** There's still time to be a part of the prestigious InformationWeek Elite 100! Submit your company's application by Jan. 15, 2016. You'll find instructions and a submission form here: InformationWeek's Elite 100 2016.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
12/28/2015 | 8:15:19 AM
Santa delivers everywhere
"The long hours are necessary because NORAD Tracks Santa doesn't simply serve a North American audience: The operation's website is available in eight languages." 

This just makes sense since there are kids all over the planet, not just in North America, and Santa is supposed to deliver to everyone on the planet, not just in North America, right? Otherwise, it would be quite disappointing to other kids. 

-Susan 
Angelfuego
50%
50%
Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
12/25/2015 | 9:11:24 AM
Re: Great stuff
A friend of mine is in Ireland. She sent me a photo of what appeared to be Santa and his reindeer flying in the sky. It was the doing of  ISS from NASA. I wonder if the timing was in in sync with the Norad Santa Tracker.

 
Angelfuego
50%
50%
Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
12/25/2015 | 8:56:05 AM
Re: Great stuff
I love Norad! I think it is such a cute way to track Santa. It is definitely exciting for kids.  I like how it also tracks how many gifts have been distributed along the way!
jastroff
50%
50%
jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2015 | 1:41:51 PM
Re: Great stuff
When I was growing up the TV news guy would get  a picture of Santa and stick it up over the NY area and say "he's on his way"

 

I guess this is better, but I didn't really believe it then, either
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2015 | 11:00:57 AM
Great stuff
Always loved this idea. As well as being exciting for children though, what an awesome resource for parents that makes it easier to keep the tale alive in an age where information to debunk it would be so easy to come across.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
The Next Generation of IT Support
The workforce is changing as businesses become global and technology erodes geographical and physical barriers.IT organizations are critical to enabling this transition and can utilize next-generation tools and strategies to provide world-class support regardless of location, platform or device
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll