In the next in our series of articles featuring some of the Inmarsat people who are helping to ensure we keep customers connected around the globe during the coronavirus crisis, we speak to Network Operations Centre (NOC) controller Martin Hazard.
What is the NOC?
The NOC is the Network Operations Centre, based in our London HQ, where we monitor the network elements of our services. We ensure the continued and reliable operation of the Inmarsat networks, on a 24 hours per day basis, by supervising network operations, co-ordinating network activities and taking corrective actions as necessary to meet the network availability and service quality objectives.
What is a typical day at work?
We work 12 hour shifts in the NOC. On a routine day, we take over shift and do system checks on our services to make sure we are operating to the best capability we can, also to see if we can see an issue developing to solve it before it becomes customer-affecting. We compile the NOC daily report which is made up of all the sites reports from our satellite access stations around the world to give an overview of what has happened in the last 24 hours. We also deal with any network issues that arise and liaise with our Global Customer Support and Global Technical Support teams on any case issues they have that need further investigation.
How does it feel to be identified as a critical worker during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the current global health crisis, communications for vessels and aircraft are more important than ever – for example, to allow crew members to call home to check on the welfare of their families and to allow companies to talk and send data to their vessels and aircraft to maintain their operations as they continue to move cargo around the world. And as always, it is essential that we maintain our maritime and aviation distress services. By keeping the networks and services running at their optimum capability, and reducing down time to the bare minimum, we are contributing to Inmarsat’s business by maintaining our usual service delivery. Doing the job of a NOC controller, it gives me great satisfaction that our role is helping people keep in contact.
Has your work changed since the lockdown?
I spent two weeks in March working from home as I had arrived back from Mallorca on the day Spain went into lockdown. This was a precautionary measure, but it also allowed us to test the remote working options for NOC controllers.
Since then I have been back working on shift at the NOC in our London HQ, however I’m now commuting by car to limit the possible exposure on the public transport. Our work has remained the same over this period, although with heightened awareness of the situation at hand
What impact has COVID-19 had on connectivity demand?
There has been a steady increase in maritime traffic, with new terminals joining the network on a weekly basis and additional traffic in volume, connected to special packages offered to our customers. We have however seen a natural decrease in the demand from aeronautical terminals as a consequence of the changed conditions for travellers due to the pandemic.
Inmarsat’s NOC has been described as one of the coolest control centres in the world. In your opinion, what makes it special?
Along with the extensive monitoring tools we have I believe that it’s the controllers along with our support engineers who make it a great place to work. Having worked here for nearly four years, it never ceases to amaze me the lengths people go to ensure that our networks are running at their optimum at all times.