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High-Tech Upgrades Highlight FPL's Annual Hurricane Drill

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light, said during a press conference that the company's annual hurricane drill is held not because the state might get hit, but rather a question "of when and of where in the state it [hurricane] will hit."

According to CBS4's news pattern the Miami Herald, Hurricane Falcon — a computer-simulated, Category 3 hurricane — touched down in North Miami, bringing with it 129-mile-per-hour winds and flood waters.

FPL meteorologists, power grid specialists and other employees responded to the storm from a command center in Riviera Beach.

The drill allowed for FPL to test its new tech, which included new tools such as smart phones and tablets. Though something like smart phones sounds like a no-brainer, in the past employees recorded incidents with pen and paper. Implementing wireless tech means field workers can use the devices to send real-time data on power outages and other problems back to headquarters.

Besides smart phones and tablets, field workers will be rolling around in a high-tech truck that will act as a field headquarters in the most damaged areas after a storm hits. The truck is equipped with satellite and other communication systems, a powerful, long-range camera and computers that can analyze data from the field.

Since Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina hit Florida, Silagy said FPL has invested about $2 billion in new technology. Some of the money also went to more traditional storm-protection measures, such as replacing wooden power-line poles with concrete ones.

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, was also at the event.

Her focus was on the cooperation between government and industry in storm planning.

Part of that cooperation: a $200 million grant awarded to FPL from the Department of Energy for its technological upgrades, which Sherwood-Randall called "cutting edge."


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