SOURCE: AtHoc

June 04, 2007 08:30 ET

Air Force Air University and Air War College Deploy AtHoc's Net-Centric Emergency Notification System

When Emergencies Occur, Faculty and Students Receive Emergency Alerts Through Computers, Cell Phones and PDAs

BURLINGAME, CA--(Marketwire - June 4, 2007) - AtHoc, Inc. today announced the U.S. Air Force Air University and Air War College has deployed AtHoc IWSAlerts™ for use on campus at Maxwell Air Force Base for emergency alerting. The university and college are part of the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command.

Air University provides the full spectrum of Air Force education, from pre-commissioning to the highest levels of professional military education, including granting degrees and professional continuing education for officers, enlisted and civilian personnel throughout their careers. As part of Air University, Air War College is the senior professional school of the U.S. Air Force. The program is open to lieutenant colonels and colonels or equivalent in Navy rank or civil service grade.

In addition to educating, the Air University and Air War College are responsible for protecting faculty and students, and to that end, they have deployed AtHoc IWSAlerts to quickly reach everyone if there is an emergency that impacts the entire facility or a smaller group within the campus. The educational facilities can quickly alert staff and students via the network to desktops and laptops with a popup alert and an accompanying audio alarm.

AtHoc IWSAlerts is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software product that fully leverages a campus' existing network infrastructure, including wireless hotspots and computer kiosks in rooms and buildings, to achieve mass reach about threats and account for personnel safety. IWSAlerts turns existing connected devices into personal alarm systems. Audio/visual desktop alerts will instantly appear on all PCs, and every handheld device will receive text messages. IWSAlerts can also integrate with existing telephony alerting systems and public address systems to provide a single point of activation to all alerting channels.

In addition to the speed, ease of use and the ability to trigger any network-connected device, IWSAlerts helps keep people informed about all types of emergencies, including: accidents, weather warnings, violence or attacks, hazardous conditions, fire warnings and contaminations.

"In the past couple of months, there has been an increased emphasis on campus security for obvious reasons," commented Guy Miasnik, president and CEO for AtHoc. "The DoD has been actively pioneering the use of AtHoc's system to transform network-connected devices into effective alerting platforms. All campuses and facilities can learn from the best practices derived from the Defense Department's experiences."

Based on work performed throughout the Department of Defense, AtHoc published a thought leadership piece that further outlines the capabilities facilities should consider when evaluating an emergency alerting system. These practices are compiled based on an aggregate of AtHoc's experience working with clients. The paper can be accessed on AtHoc's Web site at http://www.athoc.com. Some of these best practices highlighted in this paper include:

--  Network-based Alerts for Assured Mass Notifications: Transform the
    existing network infrastructure into an instantaneous, pervasive and cost-
    efficient mass warning system, reaching each individual's laptop, desktop
    or PDA via desktop popup alerts. Leverage the network's capability for
    assured, prompt delivery with acknowledgement of receipt. Use email only
    for non-emergency communications.
--  Shared "Kiosk" Computers as Warning Stations: Leverage existing kiosk
    computers, lab workstations and other shared computers, as a network-based
    computerized warning station. This provides both audio alerts and
    instructions for action (i.e. evacuation map) for people in its vicinity.
--  Text-Messaging for Outside Mass Personal Notifications: Use text
    messaging/SMS alerting to reach people on their mobile phone while they are
    outside of their normal work or study space.
--  Phone Notification for Targeted Personnel: Use phone alerts for small
    subset of population such as first responders and campus leadership. Phone
    alerts take more time to deliver, require more communication resources and
    may get congested if used for mass communication.
--  Track Recipient Feedback: For some alerts, emergency managers need to
    know the intended recipient received the message. Incorporate a delivery
    and user response acknowledgement mechanism that tracks who has received
    the alert and their response.
--  Special Needs Community Alerts: Make sure your system supports
    alerting to people with disabilities. This is a legal requirement under
    Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the American Disability Act and
    related presidential directives.
--  Single Activation through Integration of All Notification Systems:
    Create a single interface for all alerting systems, including network
    alerting ("NAS"), telephony alerting ("TAS"), public address and sirens.
    Such integration reduces response time, assures consistency of message,
    creates redundancy between delivery media and reduces training and
    management resources required.
--  Reliable Recipient Contact Information: Focus attention on gathering
    and maintaining updated user information for all people in the facility.
    Select systems that provide robust tools to manage users, integrate with
    existing user directories and support organizational hierarchy and group
    management.
--  Automatic Tie-In to Emergency Information Sources for Real Time
    Situational Awareness: Integrate with and capture sources of emergency
    information from the National Weather Service (NWS), DHS, etc., and be able
    to automatically trigger alerts to emergency managers and leadership.
--  Interoperable Alerting with Other Organizations: Because emergencies
    regularly require alerting other organizations (fire, rescue, police,
    sister organizations, federal agencies, etc.), it's important to be able to
    "forward" alerts to other facilities as appropriate. It's also important to
    have the ability to capture such alerts as needed. To make this possible,
    it is important to use an alerting offering that supports standards for
    emergency communications including CAP (Common Alerting Protocol), XSDL and
    others.
--  Launch Alerts through the Web: When emergencies happen, a
    communications center may be down, or the person who uncovers the situation
    may be in a different location. An alerting system should provide the
    ability to launch an alert from anywhere a Web browser can be accessed.
--  Delegated and Distributed Management and Activation: Beyond control
    via a centralized emergency operations center or crisis management team,
    enable subunit and local security officers (in a specific building or
    department) to access the system, activate alerts related to their domain
    and manage their users. This will shorten response time and assure that the
    people who can immediately respond can do so in a "short-loop" process.
--  Establish Standard Operating Procedures for Emergency Notifications:
    Emergency notifications should be an inherent part of any emergency
    response plans. Incident scenarios should be planned in advance - who to
    notify, what is the message, how to deliver the message and what response
    to expect. Defining who is allowed to approve and/or activate the emergency
    notification procedure is just as important. That may differ per type of
    incidents (i.e. security threat may differ from fire), by location of
    affected building or even the personnel notified (i.e. should everyone be
    able to alert leadership).
--  Secure Access: Assure that access to the system is well secured
    through appropriate authentication means and security permissions tools.
--  Offsite Backup System: Always have available an offsite backup
    capability in case the internal notification system is down.
    
About AtHoc

AtHoc, Inc. is a recognized leader in providing enterprise-class, network-centric emergency notification systems used for force protection, installation alerting, public safety and critical enterprise communications. Millions of end users worldwide, in organizations such as the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Boeing, PwC and eBay rely on AtHoc's alert delivery and management systems for their critical communication and alerting needs.

AtHoc has partnered with market leaders including Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Siemens, Unisys and others to bring these notifications solutions to the public and commercial markets.

For more information on AtHoc, please visit http://www.athoc.com.

Contact Information

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    (540) 373-2963
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