Tuesday, 06 June 2017 13:20

AtHoc helps account for people in emergencies


BlackBerry has expanded its AtHoc crisis communications software with the addition of AtHoc Account, designed to account for an organisation's people in times of crisis such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

AtHoc Account combines input from a range of sources including self-reporting, HR and travel systems, call centres, and information supplied by managers about their people (eg, that the manager has just spoken to an individual and they are safe). This enables prompt reporting of people's safety and availability status before, during and after an event.

Account joins the existing AtHoc product range comprising Alert (notification), Collect (information gathering) and Connect (communication and collaboration with other organisations).

BlackBerry AtHoc co-founder Ly Tran told iTWire that the adoption of AtHoc systems is increasingly being led by the IT function. This is a sign that security leadership is converging rather than being spread across multiple functions.

Organisations and institutions have various investments such as public address systems, SMS notification systems and even Office 365 directories that AtHoc can leverage in a cost-effective way. And by providing out-of-network communications, AtHoc "prevents a lot of downtime" in the event of cyber attacks, said Tran.

BlackBerry also announced three new partners in the ANZ region: Optus Business, Briggs Communications, and New Zealand-based Mobile Mentor. Briggs Communications and BlackBerry AtHoc will later this week publicly launch The Melbourne Shield, a mass incident alerting and communication solution for the city's key venues and organisations.

“Whether it is an airport, stadium, corporation or casino, any place or business where people gather needs to have an impenetrable incident management strategy in place in case of emergencies, but often this is overlooked. As a crisis management specialist, our ambition is to help clients be prepared for such incidents. Our approach is to combine our expertise with BlackBerry’s crisis communications software, offering a turnkey solution," said Briggs Communications managing director Allan Briggs.

"An incident is never siloed," observed Tran – there is always a broader impact, and it is important to notify various agencies and even neighbours.

Briggs is a very non-traditional partner for AtHoc, he said. "This is really about securing everything in the enterprise and it reflects the convergence of IT security, physical security and crisis management.

In related news, BlackBerry announced the Bank of New Zealand has deployed AtHoc as part of its measures to ensure to ensure business continuity and the safety of its customers and staff in the wake of the 2013 and 2016 earthquakes.

“As a leading financial institution, BNZ puts its employees and customers first. After the earthquakes took place, we wanted to make sure that if it happened again, we would be ready to alert our people around the country, account for where they are and have a system in place to help us maintain continuity of business," said Bank of New Zealand executive manager for markets Katrina Maxwell.

"We are responsible for millions of dollars in customer transactions daily, and we do not take that responsibility lightly. We are deploying BlackBerry AtHoc within our markets business as it met our guidelines for real-time incident management and is an encrypted, secured and impenetrable platform that ensures the confidentiality of our data. This is important to us.”

BlackBerry APAC vice-president Paul Crighton said “From natural disasters and cloud outages, to terrorist and cyber-attacks, there have been numerous incidents in Australia and New Zealand that continue to challenge the way organisations and departments maintain operations and keep people safe.

"We hear from our customers that being able to account for personnel and maintain business continuity is a priority, and this is where BlackBerry’s encrypted, multi-platform solution is helping. We are pleased to see companies like Bank of New Zealand lead by example and the huge demand for BlackBerry enterprise software in the channel, which all helps us to make companies in Australia and New Zealand ‘BlackBerry Secure’.”

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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