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BlackBerry AtHoc’s Crisis Management Advantage

(This post, "BlackBerry AtHoc’s Crisis Management Advantage," written by Ashley Goosman interviewing Ryan Burrus, BlackBerry Senior Product Marketing Manager, was originally published in the March 28, 2023 edition of Disaster Empire. Excerpted with permission – access the article and relevant topics here). 

BlackBerry's Crisis Management Platform

BlackBerry AtHoc’s crisis management advantage is something that government and public sector companies would benefit from paying attention to. As always, with this blog, I aim to provide you with information you can use. You probably remember BlackBerry as a mobile phone provider. Today they provide essential safety, security, continuity, and crisis management services.

They don’t make smartphones anymore. BlackBerry stopped supporting its original operating system in January 2022. Now, they focus on cybersecurity software and critical event management (CEM). In this blog, I’m focusing on the BlackBerry® AtHoc® product that combines a secure emergency notification system with incident response tools and capabilities. Join me as we explore its benefits.

Disaster Frequency Is Increasing

Sadly, the number of disaster events occurring each year is increasing. As I wrote in my Thoughts On NOAA Billion-Dollar Weather And Climate Disasters blog, in 2022 the US experienced a third more disaster events annually that cost over a billion dollars than before 1980. Said in another way, the average number of events topping $1 billion went from three to thirteen over the past forty years. So, it’s more important than ever to have tools to make your response effective.

BlackBerry’s platform aims to keep your people safe and enable you to respond efficiently. Accordingly, AtHoc gets clear and timely information to your team — and the public — to keep everyone safe. It’s a powerful force multiplier that expedites and amplifies your response capabilities. Who wouldn’t want a solution that provides flexible communication abilities with an event platform that saves you time during a crisis? From our collective experiences over the past few years, I know no crisis management team has time to waste.

AtHoc's Max Benefits With a Simple Interface

BlackBerry remains a leader in crisis communications. The company is now leveraging its early innovation in networked communications to serve the public sector. AtHoc is a platform for critical event management specifically designed to provide government and commercial entities with the tools needed to respond and recover from emergencies, so public and private institutions, especially in administration and law enforcement roles, can be responsive to citizens. They are communities’ first line of defense when disasters and emergencies strike.

As the designers of AtHoc will tell you, the public wants flexibility and control over how you communicate with them. At the same time, people have an increased appetite to be alerted when crisis events occur (Protecting the Public, BlackBerry).

Understandably, everyone wants an easy-to-use interface, and this is where the product shines. The team at AtHoc created the tool in 1999, and BlackBerry acquired it in 2015. Indeed, with customers like the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security (DHS), you listen to their feedback. AtHoc will likely continue streamlining the interface and increasing its usability over time.

My Introduction to AtHoc

Recently, I met with William Graham, Global Presales Engineering Director, and Ryan Burrus, Senior Product Marketing Manager, from the BlackBerry AtHoc team. William gave me an insider’s view of the software. Some of their biggest customers include 85% of the U.S. military and federal government agencies. And I can see why. AtHoc is the only fully state-certified crisis management solution. William showed me the integration of live alerts with open-source feeds from sources like FEMA, NOAA, and local law enforcement. 

What I immediately liked about the product was its use of geolocation and its ability to connect with people where they work and live. The solution has multi-language capabilities, leveraging Amazon AWS Translate, and working with customers on continuous improvement. Using the Public Safety Edition capabilities, the system can send messages and provide real-time alerts with integrated maps. Understandably, it is GDPR-compliant, as BlackBerry works with customers worldwide.

Another thing I discovered was how passionate the team is about the product. Team members offered their disaster experiences and how this product can improve people’s experiences when impacted by a crisis. That infectious excitement shows the team’s commitment to the solution. You also get the sense that AtHoc understands users’ feedback and that of its employees. To me, that’s a recipe for continued success.

Let's Dive Into User Capabilities and Insights

Government and public agencies rely on BlackBerry’s Athoc platform because it provides quick response abilities and is a trusted partner. Additionally, it holds the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) IL4 designation that includes controlled unclassified information (CUI), including export-controlled data and personally identifiable information (PII). It also protects health information (PHI) and other mission-critical data. Ryan and William shared that the AtHoc team is working toward IL5, the highest level for environments that store CUI and PII data.

AtHoc’s crisis management solution’s best features are:

  1. Mass Notification: AtHoc allows organizations to quickly and easily notify large groups of people across multiple channels, including email, text, voice, and mobile app notifications. This helps to ensure that everyone receives essential information quickly and reliably.

  2. Two-Way Communication: AtHoc enables two-way communication, allowing recipients to respond to notifications and share their status with the organization. This helps organizations assess the situation and respond accordingly.

  3. Multi-Modal Communication: AtHoc supports multiple communication channels, including desktops, mobile devices, landlines, and digital displays. This helps organizations to reach people wherever they are, and on the devices, they use most frequently.

  4. Location-Based Alerts: AtHoc can send alerts based on the recipient’s location, ensuring that people in affected areas receive relevant information.

  5. Integration with Other Systems: AtHoc can be integrated with other systems, such as building security and emergency management, to provide a more comprehensive crisis response solution.

  6. Analytics and Reporting: AtHoc provides real-time analytics and reporting on message delivery and recipient responses, helping organizations to assess the effectiveness of their crisis communication strategy.

Overall, AtHoc’s best features enable organizations to quickly and effectively communicate with their employees, customers, and other stakeholders during emergencies or critical events, helping to keep everyone safe and informed.

Products and Services With Real Value

Over the past few years, I searched for products that would add value and effectiveness to business resilience. Not only do private companies rely upon software to enhance their capabilities, but government agencies need to do so, as well. AtHoc is one of the most comprehensive and simplest-to-use interfaces I’ve encountered. This blog only scratches the surface of the solution’s abilities, so I plan to share more with you in the future.

Having worked in the public sector for over eight years on numerous events, BlackBerry’s Athoc is a platform you want to check out. I plan to partner with AtHoc’s team to review its technological features in a future blog.

In the meantime, let me know if there are aspects you are interested in learning more about. Of course, you don’t have to wait for that. For more information and to schedule a solution demonstration, contact BlackBerry Senior Product Marketing Manager Ryan Burrus

Read this article and explore relevant topics in Disaster Empire here.

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Ryan Burrus

About Ryan Burrus

Ryan Burrus is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry.