TSA adopts Coast Guard's emergency alert system

The Transportation Security Administration will begin using the Coast Guard’s enterprisewide emergency mass notification system.

Interagency cooperation is allowing TSA to integrate the infrastructure of the Coast Guard’s Alert and Warning System (AWS). The system is designed to provide emergency alerts over multiple channels such as landlines, mobile and satellite phones, e-mail, text messages and facsimile to units across the agency, AtHoc company officials said. The emergency notification system is based on AtHoc’s IWSAlerts software.

The system will reach 50,000 TSA employees nationwide via a virtual private cloud. The notification will contact units at more than 100 ports and 45 airports, across TSA’s Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing network, and TSA facilities, AtHoc officials said. The system’s enterprisewide architecture allows deployment in centralized data centers to support TSA facilities. A unified design methodology provides centralized alert activation, control and management from a Web-based console.

“We believe TSA will benefit from a reliable, enterprisewide, network-centric [emergency management notification system] to provide critical capabilities that are needed to carry out TSA’s important mission,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Ted Kim said in a statement.

The Coast Guard has used AWS since 2007. In 2010, Kim told GCN that the Coast Guard picked AtHoc because it allowed the organization to run a single software instance at a data center while captains and other authorized personnel can access the system and issue alerts from any authorized workstation.

The Coast Guard uses AWS 2.0 for emergency alerts; staff recall; personnel accountability; and disaster response to events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, earthquakes in American Samoa and Haiti, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

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