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AtHoc Emergency Notification
 

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AtHoc Emergency Notification

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Air Force Air University and Air War College Deploy AtHoc’s Net-centric Emergency Notification System for Campus Alerting Capabilities


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

Burlingame, CA, June 11, 2007 --(PR.com)-- www.athoc.com – AtHoc, Inc., the leading provider of enterprise-class mass notification systems, 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 university 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 the past couple of months, there has been an increased emphasis on campus alerts & 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.”

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 pop up 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.

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/AtHocSite/products/article.asp. 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, critical enterprise communications and campus alerts. Millions of end users worldwide, in organizations such as the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Hawaii State Civil Defense, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 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, Avaya and others to bring these notifications solutions to the public and commercial markets.

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

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Contact Information
AtHoc
Angela Alter
(650) 685-3020
Contact
http://www.athoc.com

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