The FINANCIAL — BlackBerry Limited on October 19 announced that St. Louis County Emergency Management selected AtHoc, a division of BlackBerry, to provide a highly secure alerting and personnel accountability solution. The selection and deployment of the AtHoc solution was made in preparation for the one-year anniversary of the shooting and consequent demonstrations that gripped the streets of Ferguson in August 2014.
St. Louis County EMA sought a state-of-the art crisis communication system that would enable swift, secure and reliable critical communications. It was essential that the system enable coordination with full accountability and real time report generation. The County wanted to be proactive about the safety and protection of both first responders as well as the citizens of the county. They wanted a highly-secured system with one central interface that could be deployed swiftly and manage multiple delivery modalities (mobile smart device messaging, phone calls, paging, etc.).
The system was deployed rapidly and was in operation on August 1, 2015. The County’s selection and implementation of AtHoc paid off immediately as the County Executive declared a state of emergency when gunfire erupted on the fringes of demonstrations commemorating the anniversary weekend in August 2015. The County immediately used the AtHoc system to actively communicate and coordinate with first responders dealing with vandalism, looting, arson and other acts of civil disobedience or confrontations with police, according to BlackBerry.
The selection of AtHoc was led by the Emergency Management team in the St. Louis County police department under the guidance of Paul Dupuis, Emergency Management Specialist. “We needed an efficient way to manage crisis awareness,” Dupuis said. “The anniversary of the Ferguson events accelerated the urgency to get a system in place as quickly as possible. The protection of the community and the citizens of St. Louis County is our top priority – we needed to make sure our first responders could communicate openly and efficiently should a crisis arise.”
“We designed our system to be both powerful to use as well as rapidly deployable,” said Jim Hoppe, AtHoc’s Vice President of Commercial and SLED. “We are proud that both of these attributes contributed to the safety of the Saint Louis County citizens in their first use of AtHoc, the same proven technology used by the Department of Homeland Security for the protection of their own personnel.”