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AtHoc Network-Centric
Emergency Mass
Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Whitepaper • December 2011
© 2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved. AtHoc, the AtHoc logo and AtHoc IWSAlerts are trademarks of AtHoc, Inc.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies.
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Table of Contents
Introduction.......................................................................................................................................................... 3
Defining a Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System ........................................................................ 4
Centralized Architecture ................................................................................................................................ 4
The Benefits of a Centralized Net-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System .................................................. 4
AtHoc’s Approach to Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification .................................................................... 6
Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) ......................................................................................... 7
Unified Communications – Microsoft Lync ..................................................................................................... 8
Fire and Life Safety ....................................................................................................................................... 8
Social Networks ............................................................................................................................................ 9
Deployment Options .......................................................................................................................................... 10
Site-by-Site Architecture ............................................................................................................................. 10
Cloud Architectures..................................................................................................................................... 10
AtHoc’s Deployment Experience ........................................................................................................................ 11
Military and Federal Government ................................................................................................................ 11
Healthcare Facilities.................................................................................................................................... 11
Industrial/Chemical Facilities and Commercial Enterprises .......................................................................... 11
Higher Education Campuses ....................................................................................................................... 12
A Comparison of Centralized and Site-by-Site Architectures............................................................................... 12
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 2 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Introduction
In the event of an emergency, the rapid notification of those in harm’s way provides the best possibility of saving
lives and protecting infrastructure. The methods for alerting people about emergencies have evolved significantly
in the past 50 years as new technologies have emerged.
For decades, rudimentary alerting systems such as sirens and public address systems provided the best option
for quickly alerting people in an emergency situation, but they also presented significant drawbacks, including a
limited geographical reach and the inability to customize messages. These solutions could gain the attention of
those in the vicinity but achieve little else. This was the 1st generation of emergency mass notification.
nd
The 2 generation of notification emerged when telephony became an important component in reaching people
during emergencies. Though it surpassed the geographical reach of sirens and PA systems and could reach
people at their desks or even at home, telephony alerting systems took longer to trigger and could take hours
to send out a single message to a large group. Reach was improved, yet speed was compromised. Many
organizations used both broadcast and telephony alerting simultaneously with the hope of achieving both
speed and reach simultaneously.
The last five years have brought about a fundamental shift in emergency alerting, ushering in the 3rd generation
of emergency mass notification. In the same way that the internet has revolutionized the delivery and speed of
communications for personal and business use, it has dramatically improved emergency mass alerting.
In most recent years, there has been a confluence of significant technological advances from massive high-speed
internet build-out to smartphones e.g., iPhones and Androids. At the same time, the world has experienced a rise
in natural and manmade adversity around the globe. It is therefore no coincidence that the response of
technology build-up has come to the aid of physical security and public safety – taking 1st generation mass
notification of PA systems and sirens through 2nd generation of telephony/texting to the latest, 3rd generation
of net-centric mass notification.
The introduction of the IP network into the equation made it possible to exploit all the benefits of the Web and
apply them to emergency mass alerting. The primary benefits include:
 Speed: Organizations can now reach their personnel in under two minutes
 Reach: Alerts can be sent to hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously through multiple and
redundant alerting devices, including PCs via intrusive audio/visual popups, landlines, mobile phones, smart
phones and tablets, PDAs, BlackBerry devices, SMS text messages, sirens, public address systems, digital
displays, land-mobile radios, broadcast TV and radio channels, social media
 Personalization: Organizations can predefine the roles of their people so that different alerts can be sent
to different groups depending on personnel criteria such as their location, position within the organization or
job responsibility
After the introduction of the network as the primary conduit for alerting organizations to emergency situations,
network-centric emergency mass notification systems have continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs
of organizations. This whitepaper serves to:
 Define a network-centric emergency mass notification system
 Highlight the benefits for implementing a centralized solution for use at multiple, dispersed facilities
 Detail the AtHoc emergency mass notification solution
 Outline the options for deploying an enterprise-wide solution
 Provide examples of organizations using enterprise-wide, network-centric solutions
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 3 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Defining a Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
The implementation of a network-centric emergency mass notification system means enabling a comprehensive,
bi-directional notification capability across an entire geographically-dispersed organization.
In an enterprise-wide, network-centric notification system, a data center – along with a centralized network and
telephone connectivity – allows an emergency operator to access the system via the Web. Through a single,
unifying Web-based console, the AtHoc technology triggers, manages, tracks and controls the emergency
notification process. AtHoc disseminates the notification via multiple and redundant communication channels to
alert hundreds of thousands of people in minutes. Customized alerts can be sent out to one facility, to all facilities,
to specific personnel or an entire population depending on the specific details of the situation. The system also
asks for a response from recipients and informs the emergency operators of the status of alert recipients. This
real-time, 2-way communication provides the decision makers with much needed situational awareness regarding
the status of their organization.
Centralized Architecture
In this model, there is a single physical system, typically located in one or more major enterprise data centers.
The central system becomes the functional hub for multiple sites; each site accessing the centralized system
using the network. With the proper implementation, a centralized architecture allows multiple local instances of
the application to run on the same (centralized) servers, giving each site exactly the same operational control and
functionality it would have if they were running it on their own hardware locally.
This capability is called a “multi-tenancy” system. A multi-tenancy model provides each unit/tenant with its own
virtual system. A common misperception about centralized, multi-tenant architectures is that they limit the level
of operational control available to each local site. Such a concern is unwarranted. In a modern networking
environment with internet access, the physical location of the server has no practical impact on the operational
capabilities of the application or experience of the operators.
For organizations looking to standardize on a single system from the beginning and benefit from the economies
of scale and decrease implementation complexity, a centralized deployment of emergency mass notification
systems is becoming the method of choice.
The Benefits of a Centralized Net-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
The centralized deployment of an emergency mass notification system has several significant benefits:

Faster Response Time: An enterprise-wide system enables operators to mange threats that go across
facilities and regions faster and more effectively due to shorter response times because one central
system will be managing all user data and alerting.

Higher Accuracy and Better Alert Consistency: A centralized, enterprise-wide system improves the
accuracy of alerts and assures consistency through the use of a single source of user data and alert
information. Personnel receiving alerts benefit from the consistency of one standard emergency mass
notification. Consistency mitigates misunderstanding and increases responsiveness across affected areas.

Rapid Personnel Accountability Reporting: Having a centralized system allows a much faster process
of contacting personnel and reporting back with accountability information, thereby providing operators
with improved visibility into the status of their personnel.

User Privacy Protection: A centrally-managed system protects user privacy by restricting the exposure of
personnel data onto the public network.

Solid Network Security: A centrally-managed notification system also reduces the risk of compromising
network security. Protecting one system is easier than protecting multiple separate systems.
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 4 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices

Reduced Maintenance Requirements and Decreased Costs: A single installation of a centralized
system decreases costs for an enterprise – both in the form of the upfront investment in the system and
associated hardware, and second, in the form of ongoing maintenance. Because an organization only
needs to maintain a single situation, this decreases the amount of time and effort necessary to keep the
system running and updated.

Faster Implementation: A single system can be deployed much more quickly than duplicate systems at
each site.

Failover: When deploying a centralized architecture, it is common to create one or more redundant
systems for each centralized system. For example, each regional system can have a failover capability to
at least one of the other regional systems.

Centralized/Shared Communication and Directory Resources: A centralized architecture uses a
shared pool of resources for all sites served by the centralized system. For example, it can tap into a large,
centralized telephony alerting capacity (using DCC NxT) that all sites can use as needed. Such capacity
would typically be much larger than what a single site would have, but also smaller than what all sites
would have in aggregate in a site-by-site deployment. For example, instead of having 24 lines dialing
capability at each site, a regional system supporting 15 sites may have 192 lines, all available for all sites.
This would provide significant cost savings when compared with the 360 lines that would be required to
support all sites independently.

Centralized with Local Communication Resources: Even though the hardware, software and personnel
contact database are located at a centralized site (or a few regional sites), the application can interface
with local communications devices and channels.

Enhanced Interoperability: A centrally-managed system effectively leverages the interoperability of an IP
network as virtually any IP-connected device can be used for emergency management and personnel
accountability. In addition, the system can activate other alerting systems such as Giant Voice and
traditional telephone call alerting through a single interface. A customizable, consistent alert message is
communicated across multiple IP-network-integrated channels and delivery devices, including:
Networked Computers – Pop-up notifications to IP-connected desktops
Networked IP Phone Displays – 2-way audio-visual (text, video, images) alerts to IP phone displays
and speakers (Cisco IP phones)
Telephony – Alerts to any land, VoIP, or mobile phone via on-site or hosted mass dialing services
Text-messaging – Delivery of text-messages (SMS) to mobile phones, pagers, and BlackBerry devices
Smartphones – Rapid and scalable delivery of notifications to smartphones native applications,
response collection and location tracking
Email – Secure, digitally PKI-signed email delivery with responses using the organizations’ email
address (i.e., .mil, .gov)
Social Networks – Send alerts through social networking channels, e.g., Facebook and Twitter
Indoor and Outdoor Speakers – Sirens and PA systems
Cable TV and Display Boards – Text, image, or video alerts to digital signage displays
Radio Broadcasts – Audio broadcasts to local stations
Land Mobile Radios – Transmit alerts to security forces handheld LMR
Building Safety/Fire Protection – Integrates with existing fire alarm systems
XML Feeds – Output standard XML feeds (RSS, Atom and others)
National Emergency Alert System (EAS)
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 5 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
AtHoc’s Approach to Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification
AtHoc has been a pioneer and the leader in creating sophisticated emergency mass notification systems.
rd
The company is responsible for ushering in the 3 generation of emergency mass notification and continues to
lead the charge toward increasing the reach and speed of notifications while simplifying the administrative and
triggering processes. AtHoc’s emergency mass notification systems use a highly secure, redundant, web-based
architecture to manage the entire emergency alert process.
With an open, standards-based architecture, AtHoc integrates with existing user directories, supports
organizational hierarchy and groups, and allows criteria-based targeting of alerts including group, location or role.
Organizations can create role-based users such as operators, administrators and recipients based on their
access rights across multiple facilities, campuses and installations. Business rules determine operator
permissions and actions such as creating and activating scenarios, as well as the reach of alerts and the delivery
devices to be used.
AtHoc’s centralized, IP-based emergency mass notification system provides numerous enterprise capabilities,
including:

High Availability: Manual and automatic failover: instant, transparent connection to provisioned end
devices to multiple gateways in case of critical failure of primary site

Security: Provisions for secure communication, authentication and encryption using industry-standard PKI
technologies
o Digitally PKI signed email (SMTP) delivery and sending directly using the organization’s email
address domain
o The Management System supports integration with CAC (Smart Card) login, or with an external
Single-Sign-On (SSO) system for operator authentication

Scalability: A load-balanced server farm to support tens of thousands of end users

Interoperability and Integration: Uses standard and open protocols including CAP, XML and Web
services
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 6 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices

User Directory Integration: Active Directory, LDAP and other common enterprise directories accessible
via API

High Visibility: web-based visibility into system-wide logs and events for ease of troubleshooting

Accounts and Resource Management: Network Delivery Server provides support for multiple
configurable accounts, resource management and farm configuration

Supportability: Desktop Notifier support for MacOS versions 10.4-10.7 and IE6-9 support for the
Management System and self-service

Superior User Experience: Easy, rapid configuration for devices, channels and gateways

Deployment Flexibility: Multiple delivery options including:
o On-premise: Entire system deployed behind the firewall leverages secure integration with user
directory and internal resources including network, Cisco Unified Communications Manager
(CUCM) Microsoft Lync, Public Address (PA) Systems, siren systems and physical security
sensors
o On-premise with Telephony Alerting via IP-Based Unified Communications Technology:
Delivery of alerts as audio messages to any land, mobile or VoIP phone
o Hosted/Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Available as a service from a redundant and highly
available remote hosting facilities, speeds deployment and eliminates the need for on-site
hardware. AtHoc SaaS service is certified per NIST SP 800-53 Rev3 IA controls at FIPS-199
Moderate classification
o On-premise with Hosted Managed Notification Delivery Service: Software installed locally with
secure access to remote communication center for mass telephony dialing and text messaging
without taxing local telephony resources
o On-premise with Hosted Failover: Software installed locally with failover to host facility, assuring
redundancy
The net-centric approach introduces the ability to incorporate modern Unified Communication / voice-over-IP
(VoIP) technology into the mass notification and emergency communication world. By turning any IP Phone to a
desktop alerting device as well as using audio/video conferencing for first responder’s collaboration, the life safety
and emergency management is becoming a driver for Unified Communication technology in this market space.
Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)
AtHoc IWSAlerts™ Unified Notification Server (UNS) manages the emergency mass notification process across
the enterprise and when integrated with the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), AtHoc IWSAlerts
transforms the existing IP network and Cisco IP phones into a rapid, cost-effective, two-way emergency mass
alert system. Using a Web-based console, authorized operators anywhere within the organization can use any
computer on the network to send alerts to all supported Cisco IP phones and PSTN phone lines, as well as track
responses and view accountability reports.
By integrating the AtHoc technology with Cisco’s unified communications, AtHoc IWSAlerts transforms an
organization’s VoIP/IP infrastructure into a modern multi-threat/multichannel life-safety mass notification system.
CUCM integration with AtHoc IWSAlerts provides a number of rich features for Cisco IP Audio/Visual Phone
Alerts including predefined alert tones image library to indicate various levels of emergencies, webcam remote
viewing via alerts directly to the Cisco IP phone display, presenting, accepting, and tracking dynamic response
options. “Panic buttons” are also available on Cisco IP phones, enabling end users to send silent real-time alerts
to emergency operators.
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 7 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Unified Communications – Microsoft Lync
The integration of Microsoft Lync with AtHoc IWSAlerts provides a single, network-centric, unified web-based
console to enable an emergency operator to effectively trigger, manage, track, and control notification processes
via multiple and redundant communication channels and devices across the enterprise.
The Microsoft Unified Communications platform delivers an intuitive user experience that is directly accessible
from Microsoft Office applications. Microsoft Lync Server 2010 capabilities extend the reach of AtHoc IWSAlerts
When integrated with Microsoft Unified Communications, AtHoc IWSAlerts sends information through computers,
Microsoft Office Communications Server (Lync) 2007 R2, Instant Message (IM), Lync-connected VoIP (SIP)
phones, cell phones, landline phones, PDAs, BlackBerry devices, digital display boards, TV, public address (PA)
systems, land-mobile radios, and other channels.
This integrated solution is ideal in allowing instantaneous conferencing and collaboration abilities using Lync IM
and Lync-connected VoIP phones to key personnel in an emergency situation, providing physical security, fire
and life safety protection, and personnel accountability. The centralized system simplifies activation and unifies all
communications channels. Pre-defined scenarios allow ease of management in the emergency notification flow
across the enterprise.
Fire and Life Safety
AtHoc’s innovation extends to the fire and life safety category: the IP network is also used to integrate more
traditional mass notification devices such as digital signs to fire alarms, sirens and PA systems.
In a fire emergency, the AtHoc solution extends traditional – and limited – legacy life safety systems from
inadequate alerts to a modern, third-generation, bi-directional system capable of reaching multiple alert channels
and devices, enabling a faster, safer, and more effective response over traditional methods. By utilizing the IP
network, alert dissemination is pervasive and significantly quicker, augmenting conventional fire alarm systems
and providing an enhanced spectrum of capabilities that save lives and property.
The AtHoc solution gives incident commanders (ICs) the ability to obtain and disseminate critical, detailed
information by sending targeted alerts to specific groups based on location, role and organizational hierarchy.
This action accelerates response time and gets the right personnel to the exact fire location and facilitates
evacuation routes for building occupants.
Another benefit of the AtHoc system for the ICs is the feedback and tracking capabilities that communicate the
status of alert recipients and also determine their location and ability to act, providing a reliable picture of
personnel accountability.
The AtHoc IP Integration Module (IIM), integrates with non-IP fire notification solutions, i.e., fire panels, Public
Address (PA) speakers, and sirens to trigger WAV or text-to-speech (TTS) audio alerts during an emergency, with
alarm override capacity.
By leveraging the existing network, installation and infrastructure integration can be completed within hours or just
a few days. This solution also complies with federal and Department of Defense emergency mass notification
guidelines; also compliance with regulatory requirements for life safety and emergency response (i.e. NFPA 72
2010, DoD UFC).
AtHoc has also created strategic and technological partnerships with industry leaders to integrate the AtHoc
solution with a myriad of systems so customers can leverage their existing infrastructure. The result is a unified
mass notification solution offering seamless interoperability with disparate systems, including non IP-based
architectures and those adopting industry standards such as Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 8 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
AtHoc has partnered with SimplexGrinnell to integrate AtHoc IWSAlerts platform with SimplexGrinnell’s
Emergency Communications and Fire Alarm Systems. The AtHoc solution complements SimplexGrinnell offering
by serving as its UL2572-compliant Distributed Recipient Mass Notification System (DRMNS) component, a
recent recommendation in the NFPA 72 2010 fire alarm and signaling code.
AtHoc IWSAlerts, when integrated with SimplexGrinnell systems, can initiate targeted indoor voice alerts using
fire system speakers. This solution has the capacity to override the fire alarm, complying with NFPA 72
regulations and UL2572 requirements. In addition, the AtHoc solution receives triggers from SimplexGrinnell
fire panels or TrueSite Workstations and disseminates the alerts via its multiple communication channels.
Social Networks
A large portion of the population is already connected via social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Harnessing the power of Social Networks for net-centric Life Safety and mass notification will be impacting our
space in the upcoming years. The AtHoc mass notification solution has the capability to monitor and send alerts
through popular social networking channels. This innovative capability increases the AtHoc system’s
effectiveness as a pervasive mass notification solution by leveraging the newest media channels. This capability
allows recipients to receive emergency notifications over social networks from their trusted organizations.
Upon publishing an alert, the operator is able to select the social network to which the alert would be delivered.
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 9 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Deployment Options
There are two primary models for enterprise-wide deployments: a “site-by-site” architecture” model and a
“centralized architecture” model. Further description of the two approaches follows.
Site-by-Site Architecture
In this model, each site within an enterprise deploys a separate physical system – hardware, software and
database – at the local facility and on the local network. Each site’s system will be completely autonomous and
will not depend on any other site. This type of system can be maintained and configured locally. There are two
primary variations in this architecture:
 Site-by-Site with Shared Communication/Directory Resources: Hardware and software applications are
physically installed at each site, and then share specific resources. Such shared resources may be an
Active Directory that is maintained centrally, or centralized telephony alerting capability (i.e., regional DCC
NxT resource and/or a commercial telephony alerting service).
 Site-by-Site with Cascading Alert Capability: Similar to above, but with ability to connect the systems at the
different sites in a way that will “cascade” an alert from one site to another. This capability allows a system
based in Virginia to activate a system based in Maryland and vice versa.
Cloud Architectures
AtHoc system architecture is designed to support flexible cloud deployment configurations in response to diverse
customer needs and requirements: Private Cloud, Public Cloud, and Hybrid architecture, while supporting cloud
multi-tenancy with complete isolation between customers.
With the Private Cloud (on-premise) deployment, the entire system is behind the firewall, securely integrating
with user directory databases and internal resources.
The Hosted (SaaS) deployment is available as a service from a remote hosting facility. This configuration speeds
deployment and eliminates the need for on-site hardware.
The Hybrid cloud architecture is a combination of private and hosted configurations: The application
software is installed locally with secure access to a remote communications center that handles mass telephony
dialing and text messaging without taxing local telephony resources.
In this innovative approach, the on-site, Private Cloud implementation acts as the primary emergency notification
system while the Public Cloud-provisioned, hosted service becomes the backup or disaster recovery system if the
primary site is disabled.
Application software is installed locally with secure access to a remote communications center that handles mass
telephony and text messaging without taxing local telephony resources. The Hybrid solution is for customers
requiring optimization of security, protection of sensitive information, integration capability, and costs.
Further, the hybrid architecture supports cloud-based implementation while securely connecting to on-premise
delivery systems (i.e., indoor and outdoor speakers) for complete unified notification, leveraging benefits for onpremise delivery systems as well as for cloud based hosting.
A hybrid solution allows for multiple, flexible deployment models without compromising data security, sensitivity,
or privacy and also enables customers to lower capital investments with all the features and functionality
necessary for effective mass notification.
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 10 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
AtHoc’s Deployment Experience
AtHoc has extensive experience with deployments of network-centric emergency mass notification systems. This
experience includes site-by-site architecture and centralized architecture that evolved into enterprise-wide
deployment. Below is a summary of key enterprise-wide deployments AtHoc has accomplished:
Military and Federal Government
AtHoc is the #1 provider of network-centric emergency mass notification systems to the military, homeland
security, and federal government organizations. AtHoc IWSAlerts is used extensively in the U.S. Air Force, U.S.
Army, U.S. Navy and Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, Joint Forces, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon
Force Protection Agency, among others for the protection of more than 2 million personnel worldwide. Military
concept of operations requires the use of mass notification for:
 Force protection – Mass dissemination of alerts to personnel to accelerate threat response
 Personnel recall – Rapid activation of off-base personnel to report for duty
 Personnel accountability – Proactive assessment of force status and its ability to perform duties
 Response Tracking and Reporting – Alert recipients have multiple response options for acknowledgement
on all personal communication channels
 Regulatory compliance with DoD/Federal Regulations and Guidelines – Physical and network security
Healthcare Facilities
The Department of Veterans Affairs, Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, and Baylor Health Care Systems are
some of the large-scale healthcare facilities that use AtHoc’s proven network-centric emergency mass notification
system, meeting unique emergency alerting and critical communication needs such as:
 Personnel recall – Rapid recall of off-campus staff in case of patient emergencies, influx of patients due to
mass casualty or pandemics
 Operational notifications – Shift/schedule changes, drug recall notification, critical systems outage
 Emergency alert – Mass dissemination of alerts to personnel to accelerate threat response –
biological/chemical contaminant, intruder/child abduction, staff emergency, Center for Disease Control
(CDC) alerts
 Regulatory compliance with Healthcare Regulations and Guidelines – Joint Commission, HIPPA and more
 Personnel accountability – Proactive assessment of personnel status and ability to perform duties
 Response Tracking and Reporting – Alert recipients have multiple response options for acknowledgement
on all personal communication channels
Industrial/Chemical Facilities and Commercial Enterprises
Boeing, Microsoft and Raytheon are among the established enterprises that utilize AtHoc IWSAlerts for protecting
employees and property in the event of an emergency. Industrial and chemical facilities have a need to protect
people inside the facilities and notify those in surrounding communities in case of emergencies. Large,
geographically-distributed companies with multiple campuses require an enterprise-class, network-centric
mass notification solution that can quickly alert its personnel in an emergency, regardless of location.
Industrial/Chemical Facilities and Commercial Enterprise use cases involve:




Emergency alert – Mass dissemination of alerts to personnel to accelerate threat response –
industrial/chemical contaminant, weather alerts, intruder/gunman alert
Operational notifications – Shift/schedule changes, critical systems outage
Personnel accountability & Continuity of Operations – Proactive assessment of personnel status and
ability to perform duties
Response Tracking and Reporting – Alert recipients have multiple response options for acknowledgement
on all personal communication channels
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 11 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Higher Education Campuses
Alerting students, faculty, administration, and visitors who are widely dispersed across a large campus quickly in
an emergency is a tremendous undertaking. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Texas A&M
University, and the Naval Postgraduate School are among the higher education facilities that have deployed
AtHoc IWSAlerts as part of their emergency management strategy to protect their campus populations of
thousands. UCLA became one of the first major American universities to deploy 3rd generation mass notification
technology, leveraging the IP network to create an effective and unified mass notification system that fully
integrates all campus communications resources. The use cases in Higher Education setting involve:




Emergency alert – Mass dissemination of alerts to students and staff to accelerate threat response –
intruder/gunman alert, natural disaster (earthquake, tornado etc.)
Operational notifications – Schedule changes, general announcements, critical systems outage
Personnel accountability – Assessment of students and staff status during and post-emergency
Regulatory compliance with Regulations and Guidelines – Higher Education Act (HEA), Clery act
A Comparison of Centralized and Site-by-Site Architectures
The table below presents a comparison of deployment and support requirements, features and benefits for a
centralized and a site by site ENS architecture system:
Category
Centralized Architecture
Site-by-Site Architecture
Deployment
Number of sites for
server deployment
One single, centralized server
Multiple local sites
Speed of deployment
20-25 days per regional site
4-5 days at each site (inc. intensive travel)
Total: 80-100 days
Total: 240-300 days
TBD
TBD
Need to assure appropriate bandwidth,
proxy load, firewall load and overall
network reliability between regional data
centers to each local site and local sites.
Need to assure appropriate bandwidth,
proxy load, firewall load and overall
network reliability between each local sites
Single integration
One at each local site.
Hardware requirement
Microsoft licenses
Networking
requirement
Integration with Active
Directory
Integration with
Telephony Dialer
Deployment
management
Program management and centralized IT
Functional admin at each site local site
System Administrators at each site
Training
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 12 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Ongoing IT Support
IT Ownership
One regional center
Owned by each site’s local IT staff
Software Maintenance
and Update
Single centralized location
60 sites
Vendor IT support
Working with a single IT point of contact –
much more efficient; saves costs
Supports multiple IT POC’s at each site.
Network security
assurance
Managing security for a centralized
deployment – more attention per each and
more assured compliance with security
requirements
Subject to local-level network security
assurance
Redundancy and Availability
Failover sites
Failover site between Regions – inherit to
architecture
Separate local failover sites. If failover is on
same site as primary system, failover’s
effectiveness is low; if on different site –
raises complexity significantly since now
need to deal with multiple sites. Often site
level deployments do not actually implement
failover system
Availability when local
site is shut down (i.e.
evacuation)
System is available since it’s hosted in the
regional center, and can be accessed via
VPN or alternate location, and activated. If
regional center is down – available through
failover.
System is not available at all, unless a
failover has been deployed at an alternate
site (as said – that raises overall
complexity significantly)
Availability when
network connectivity is
down
If connectivity is down from local site to
primary system, failover system should
work. If connectivity is down for both – loss
of direct access, though alert activation can
be achieved by requesting primary site to
access regional system and activate alerts.
In that case system will reach any of the
local units that are still on network and will
reach all personnel via phone
Continued functionality for local site, but no
network alerts with subordinate units;
phone alerts to subordinate units should
still function.
Servers
Cost of a single centralize server
Cost of multiple servers
ENS Software licenses
Enterprise Edition required – more costly
per instance; yet significantly fewer
licenses
Express/Standard Edition required – less
costly per instance; more instances
required
Volume discount available
Volume discount available
Costs
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 13 of 14
Network-Centric Emergency Mass Notification System
Solutions, Implementation & Best Practices
Maintenance costs
Significantly lower – maintaining one site
vs. multiple
Significantly higher
Internal NG costs
Significantly lower – maintaining one site
vs. multiple
Significantly higher
Bottom line
Typically 40% less expensive than Site-bySite
©2011 AtHoc, Inc. All rights reserved.
Page 14 of 14
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