SOURCE: AtHoc

June 11, 2007 08:30 ET

AtHoc Introduces IWSAlerts Module That Allows Emergency Management Organizations to Trigger the National Emergency Alert System

New Module Supports FCC's Recent Order Requiring All EAS Systems to Comply With the Common Alerting Protocol

BURLINGAME, CA--(Marketwire - June 11, 2007) - AtHoc, Inc. today announced the availability of the AtHoc EAS Activation Module, an add-on capability for its flagship alerting product -- AtHoc IWSAlerts™. The new module lets federal, state and local emergency management officials trigger the broadcast Emergency Alert System (EAS) using IWSAlerts' Web-based alert management system, sending EAS messages over the Internet to broadcasters using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). This capability adds yet another critical alerting channel to AtHoc's network-centric emergency notification system.

On May 31, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it had adopted an order requiring all EAS participants to support CAP in order to facilitate the "efficient and rapid transmission of EAS alerts to the American public in a variety of formats (including text, audio and video) and via different means (broadcast, cable, satellite, and other networks)." The AtHoc IWSAlerts EAS Activation Module includes components that enable CAP-compliance per the FCC order for both the emergency management agencies and the EAS participating broadcasters. As such, emergency management organizations using AtHoc IWSAlerts will be able to trigger EAS systems by transmitting a CAP message that would be received by the broadcaster's CAP-enabled EAS equipment. AtHoc has already successfully deployed the AtHoc EAS Activation Module, integrating Hawaii State Civil Defense with the EAS through CAP.

IWSAlerts provides organizations with the ability to trigger alerts to a wide variety of communication channels, all based on IP-network communications, including: desktops, mobile phone text messaging and SMS, telephony, sirens, public address (PA) systems and paging systems. When an emergency response official with EAS activation authority uses IWSAlerts with the optional EAS Activation Module, they can also send the alert directly through the EAS over the Internet to broadcasters at the same time the alerts are distributed through other communication channels. IWSAlerts' central alert management provides operators with a single place to manage all emergency scenarios, recipient information, operators' permission, activation, and tracking and auditing of alerts for all integrated communication channels.

"By being able to launch an alert to the Emergency Alert System from any networked workstation, including from a remote location, emergency management organizations shorten response times, improve messaging consistency and speed information flow during a time when minutes and even seconds are critical," commented Guy Miasnik, president and CEO of AtHoc. "Emergency management agencies and first responder officials can now use a single, Web-enabled system for all their notification needs."

IWSAlerts also significantly reduces the cost of communication between the activation stations and the broadcasters by using the Internet versus the traditional approach of using dedicated satellite/microwave communication channels. Now emergency management organizations can more easily afford to reach a larger number of broadcasters, which in turn reaches a larger proportion of the public at large.

AtHoc's EAS Activation Module provides the following capabilities:

--  Web-based activation of EAS from any network-connected workstation
    within the Emergency Operations Center or from a remote location
--  Authenticated and secure Web-based access to multiple operators. The
    system includes permission management  that defines which specific system
    operators have EAS activation rights
--  Preprogrammed selection of EAS scenarios and audio messages that can
    be distributed as-is or quickly tailored
--  Integrated text-to-speech capability which converts text messages to
    broadcast audio
--  Ability to target broadcasters by geographical regions
--  Audit trail of all activations with details including operator, time
    stamp, scenario activated and more
--  Delivery of EAS messages over the IP network, including the public
    Internet, to the EAS ENDEC (Encoder-Decoder) interface
--  Delivery of alerts to broadcasters, online and via print media using
    additional, non-EAS channels including multi-media desktop alerting that
    can provide audio, video and more in-depth text information to complement
    short EAS messages
    
EAS integration is achieved through the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). IWSAlerts generates a CAP-compliant alert, and this message is then processed by CAP-compliant EAS devices that convert the CAP messages to signals that can feed into the EAS system via their standard interface -- the ENDEC. With this approach, EAS messages can be communicated over IP networks to any ENDEC -- whether located at the headquarters of the emergency management agency or directly to broadcasters over the public Internet. This achieves a high level of redundancy and more reliable broadcast delivery of each activated EAS message.

The Emergency Alert System is a national system that was put into place in 1994 to replace the Emergency Broadcast System. It is jointly administered by the FCC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service. State and local emergency management officials develop, implement and maintain the EAS infrastructure on a local level. The EAS allows radio (both public and subscription) and television (cable, wireless and digital) broadcast stations to send emergency information to the public quickly.

About AtHoc

AtHoc is a recognized leader in providing enterprise-class, network-centric emergency notification systems used for force and personnel protection, facility mass notification, public safety and critical enterprise communications. Millions of end users worldwide, in organizations such as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, the Air University, Hawaii State Civil Defense, Boeing, PricewaterhouseCoopers 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, Avaya, Unisys and others to bring these notification solutions to the public and commercial markets.

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

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Ivy Eckerman
    Spire Communications
    (540) 373-2963
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