Verizon: Transforming communication at the Harris Center
Founded in 1983 in Delaware, US, Verizon Communications (Verizon) is a telecommunications conglomerate and industry tech expert with a dedicated mission: ‘deliver[ing] the promise of the digital world.’
“Verizon might primarily be known for its network, but we prefer to say that we’re a technology company that brings solutions to customers,” states Jason Taylor, Executive Lead for the Public Sector. Indeed, this perspective has never been more apparent than its collaboration with the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD. Offering a safety net for those experiencing significant mental health and developmental disabilities, the Harris Center provides an essential service within the communities it operates, and Verizon has made significant contributions towards that effort.
Both companies have now been partners for several years; Wayne Young, CEO of the Harris Center, reflects that, when deciding how best to implement remote evaluation capabilities for clinicians and police officers, the company was intent on only collaborating with well-established partners. “We began to think about how to breathe life into this concept. At its core, what we're trying to do is utilize technology to reduce the footprint of the criminal justice system and improve the lives of people with mental illness. To achieve this task, we needed a reliable partner whom we could trust.” The answer was Verizon.
The project was initiated before the COVID-19 pandemic, yet its applications have become all the more valuable now that face-to-face interactions have become difficult. “Verizon's focus was to make sure that citizens or patients that needed to engage with the Harris Center could do so while retaining that personal touch,” Taylor explains. This proved to be a complex task requiring rigorous planning that went beyond simply supplying technology, “We looked at getting the right connectivity, making sure we provided the correct devices, and then securing everything to protect the flow of communication.” Taylor’s latter point is particularly crucial in the highly sensitive, data-rich world of healthcare.
“If you talk to most law enforcement officers, they're very sympathetic [to mental health crises] but often don't feel adequately trained. Leveraging expertise and connecting them with technology is now critical. The Harris Center has certainly pivoted towards doing a lot of work around virtual care delivery,” says Young. Taylor adds that the company’s innovative approach makes it an ideological match for Verizon, positioning itself to always focus on the future, which in turn makes for a highly collaborative partnership. “We're both focused on making a positive impact and as we move into the world of 5G, I believe that solutions and benefits will open up for communities that we haven't even imagined yet.”
With the Harris Center’s large (2,400 employees) workforce now operating with increased mobility, Young praises Verizon for always providing a solid, ‘behind-the-scenes’ service that’s seamless, scalable, reliable, and most importantly allows the Harris Center to focus on what it does best: transforming the lives of patients. “We needed a partner who could think flexibly and be agile with us as we solve problems in new and innovative ways,” he concludes. “Working with Verizon, I think the future is looking bright.”