Even the North Pole modernized this year.
Kids around the world can once again follow Santa’s whereabouts this Christmas Eve with the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa Tracker, but some new tech is giving kids more ways than ever to keep up with Saint Nick.
This year, NORAD will use new dual-modem routers to let children follow Santa’s sleigh on Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and OnStar. Kids can trace Santa’s journey around the globe with a live NORAD operator, livestream videos, mobile apps, video games and social media.
The Cradlepoint routers bring Santa-tracking into the 21st century, connecting to Verizon’s cloud-managed LTE network to expand beyond traditional channels. The routers will power the NORAD Santa Tracker Command Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, where volunteers will field more than 155,000 phone calls and millions of online visits from naughty and nice children around the world.
"The NORAD Tracks Santa program has evolved over the years to include modern technology in order to reach as many kids as we can,” said U.S. Navy spokesperson Lt. Mike Hatfield. “It is essential that the technology infrastructure can deliver this capability seamlessly so the focus remains on our young callers and participants.”
The Santa Tracker operation dates to 1955, when a newspaper incorrectly listed the phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor, as Santa’s number. Corporate partners bear most of the cost of the program, and NORAD relies on more than 1,500 volunteers to man the operations on Christmas Eve, Hatfield said.
The North Pole did not reply to repeated requests for comment.