Urgent Matters

Appreciation takes many forms

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A company attempts to show first responders some gratitude for all that they do.

Today, some of you received an e-mail from Wilson Electronics and Urgent Communications that announces a contest through which first-responder agencies in eight states — Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona — can win cellular signal boosters from Wilson. The details are in the e-mail, but the heart of the exercise is a 200-word essay that explains why the agency should receive one of the 10 Grand Prize packs, which include one in-vehicle and one in-building signal booster, as well as installation.

Giveback Tour 2012 logoTwo Wilson employees will travel the route chosen for Giveback Tour 2012, which begins and ends in the company's home town of St. George, Utah. The route goes through Albuquerque, Dallas, Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver. These guys are going to travel 3,500 miles on this adventure, which will commence next month. That's one impressive road trip.

The idea for the tour was entirely Wilson's. The company approached us a few weeks ago and asked if we could help them promote it. We didn't hesitate and are happy to be playing a small role. We've worked with Wilson before, as the company sponsored one of our webinars a while back. We've also written about its products — one of which, the U Booster, was among the finalists a couple of years ago in the annual Andrew Seybold Choice Awards competition.

Yesterday, I chatted with Jonathan Bacon, Wilson's director of marketing, about the Giveback Tour. He told me that the company enjoys a close relationship with Washington County (Utah) Sheriff Cory Pulsipher, which was what got the gears turning. The county is rugged country. Though it has a relatively sparse population, it is flooded with tourists year round, in part because of nearby Zion National Park. Pulsipher's department is constantly performing rescue operations for hikers, climbers and the like.

Like many departments, Pulsipher's agency has come to rely heavily on cellular coverage, particularly for data transmissions. As one might expect, such coverage is spotty, given the very rural nature of the jurisdiction. That's a problem. Many of the roads that traverse the county get pretty lonely. A sheriff's deputy needs to be able to make a license-plate query, so that he has some idea of what he's getting himself into when he approaches a vehicle. As I have been told many times over the years, there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop.

I asked Bacon why the company chose this route and why do it at this time. His answers were pretty simple and straightforward. Regarding the route, it will take Wilson's dynamic duo through parts of the country that reminded them of the area that surrounds their home town, areas that share some of the same cellular coverage issues. Regarding the timing, the first responders who risk their lives protecting us provided the inspiration for the contest and September is when all of us think a little more about them. Given the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I can think of no better time for this contest — can you?

"We just wanted to think of something that we could do to give something back to them," he said.

Cynics will scoff at that and opine that the real reason for the contest is that Wilson wants to get some additional awareness for its products. So what? Keep in mind that they are in business to make money. But, more importantly, note that there are many other ways they could have chosen to go about it. That they chose this one is a good thing.

And, sometime in the future, if a first responder's life is spared on some lonely highway during a traffic stop, because his vehicle has one of the cellular signal boosters won by his department in this contest — well, that will be a great thing.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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