Operation HO HO HO

A strange experiment was born out of a particular Air

Force controller’s dedication to respond to the queries of little children. It all started with a misprinted advertisement that gave a number to call Santa Clause. The number turned out to connect to the NORAD’s red phone.


The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) red phone is typically used for national security crisis. So when the first phone call came in to enquire about Santa’s whereabouts that night, the Air Force controller on the receiving end acted quick and kept the responses going. That was in 1955.


Today, 57 years later, NORAD is still dedicated to its mission of tracking Santa Clause. From 2007 to 2011 Google sponsored NORAD’s Santa-tracker but this year Microsoft has been appointed to take the mission forward using mapping technology and mapping technology to power the site.


Google responded by developing a Santa Dashboard of its own. However the two rival trackers had very different responses on Santa’s location at any given time as well as the speed

at which he was travelling. Google’s Dashboard is found to use innovative, alternative technology such as by tracking Santa’s in-sleigh Wi-Fi signal and an algorithm to

estimate the number of gifts delivered but lacks the accuracy of NORAD’s systems. While Google’s system shows a lag in Santa’s movements and estimates a far less number of gifts, NORAD’s tracker uses satellite technology to zero in on Santa’s movements and even a track on every gift delivered.


NORAD is popular with the children and with Christmas volunteers who pour in to answer the children’s calls. This year NORAD answered

102,000 calls with the help of 1200 volunteers including First Lady Michelle Obama.



More Reading:

Kids ask about Santa: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/phones-tracking-screens-and-santa-hats-are-ready-as-norad-tracks-santa-for-57th-year-184648951.html?story=Is%20he%20here%20yet?%20US%20Air%20Force%20tracks%20Santa%20for%20kids;%20volunteer%20effort%20marks%2057th%20year


NORAD’s Tracking System: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-24/business/36016305_1_norad-harry-shoup-conad


First Lady, Michelle Obama, on the phone: http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2011/12/michelle_obama_takes_kids_call.html