BlackBerry signs government deals as it pivots to software
- By Stephanie Kanowitz
- Jul 22, 2016
The bell has not yet tolled for BlackBerry. At its annual security summit, the company announced that its AtHoc Crisis Communication platform has been chosen for use by the Senate and will be expanded in the Coast Guard. Additionally, the company’s BES12 and OS 10.3.2 software solutions gained Defense Information Systems Agency Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) approvals, making the solutions available for use in the Defense Department.
AtHoc is a division of BlackBerry whose Networked Crisis Communication Platform lets agencies communicate and work together securely during emergencies. Because the platform integrates all of an agency’s crisis communication and notification sources, managers can notify employees and customers of a crisis with a single click, reaching all systems and devices. It can also collect information from employees about their locations and connect with other agencies to provide a better response. The solution is available onsite, in the cloud or as a hybrid.
The platform is accredited by several federal agencies, including DOD, and it’s pending certification by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.
BlackBerry's AtHoc division will be expanding its relationship with the Coast Guard, extending the capabilities and functionality of the Coast Guard’s Alert Warning System 2.0 to include alerting for 3,800 additional staff members in the National Capitol Region.
As for the STIG certifications, BlackBerry said they reinforce its reputation for security. “The latest approval from the DOD around our secure end-to-end mobility offering, including BES12 version 12.3 and smartphone OS 10.3.2, shows that our secure platform is designed to meet their priorities,” said BlackBerry CSO David Kleidermacher said.
AtHoc will also power the Senate Sergeant at Arms’ Joint Emergency Mass Notifications System over the next five years, potentially providing secure notifications to up to 50,000 people in the Capitol Complex, the company said in its blog.
While BlackBerry works to reposition itself as an enterprise mobile security services company, business in the iconic handsets has continued to drop, even among its most devoted customers -- government employees.
Earlier this month, USA Today reported that the Senate was moving from BlackBerry to Android and iPhone devices. That’s because BlackBerry told Verizon and AT&T that production of BlackBerry OS 10 devices had been discontinued, according to a memo from the Sergeant at Arms. BlackBerry device support will continue, the memo adds.
As of June 29, the Senate had 275 Classic Verizon BlackBerrys; 160 Z30 Verizon Black BlackBerrys; 45 each of Classic AT&T BlackBerry, Passport AT&T BlackBerry, and Z10 AT&T Black Blackberry; and 40 Q10 AT&T Black BlackBerrys. “Once we have exhausted our current in-house stock, new device procurements will be limited, while supplies last, to warranty exchanges only,” according to the memo.
BlackBerry told USA Today that it is stopping production only of the Classic.
Editor's note: This article was changed July 25 to correct the language about the DISA STIG.
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.