AtHoc Notification System simplified for non-CAC holders
July 15, 2010
By Dena O'Dell
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Non-Common Access Card holders now have more options to sign up for severe weather alerts and emergency notifications via text messaging through the AtHoc Notification System.
Spouses, dependants and retirees no longer have to have a CAC sponsor to sign up for the notification system, when signing up on any one of five laptop KIOSKS available at several locations on post, according to Tom Mitchell, plans officer for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
The five locations for sign up include: The Garrison Replacement Company, Building 208, Soldier In-processing Facility, Building 210, or the ID Card Center, Building 212, all on Main Post; and Army Community Service, Building 7264, or Soldier Readiness Processing, Building 7673, both on Custer Hill.
Additionally, Family members can sign up at their unit's Family Readiness Group offices or at their sponsor's unit on any local area network computer. A CAC cardholder can sign up a spouse or dependant by clicking on the purple globe at the bottom right-hand side of his or her computer screen on any LAN computer.
The AtHoc notification system, adopted by Fort Riley in 2005, allows post officials to notify individuals about severe weather and other life-threatening events through Desktop pop-ups, e-mail or telephone notifications and text messages.
Fort Riley was the first Army customer for AtHoc, Mitchell said, which has since allowed for pop-up notifications to reach partner on-post and non-military organizations, including Irwin Army Community Hospital and Unified School District 475, as well as deployed units.
This ensures commonality and consistent communications, Mitchell added.
"We can target organizations, users and delivery systems in seconds to ensure the right people get the right information, right away," he said. "Additionally, our commanders saw how valuable AtHoc was here and applied it to help protect the force of our deployed Soldiers."
In 2005, the system's initial reach was about 50 percent of on-post computer users, according to Ward Philips, chief of Plans and Emergency Management for DPTMS. A 2009 expansion allowed for capabilities to reach 95 percent of on-post computer users, as well as the ability to send e-mail, text and voice alerts.
The AtHoc notification system's expansion was beneficial in many ways, Philips said, because it allowed Fort Riley officials to reach a larger majority of the on-post population than previously, which is critical in the event of severe weather or a disaster.
"The biggest advantage for us is the ability to send SMS text messages to our population in the event of severe weather," he said.
Fort Riley has comprehensive outdoor mass notification voice towers and tornado sirens, which are effective warning systems, but they are not designed to be heard inside buildings, Philips said.
"We are much more comfortable now with our ability to reach all of our population in the event that a fast moving tornado is threatening the installation," he said. "The most important benefit is safety. This system lets us reach Family members inside their quarters in the event of a crisis."
Currently, the AtHoc Notification System services about 14,000 accounts throughout the garrison, 1st Infantry Division, Medical Activity, Corps of Engineers and USD 475, Philips said.
Additionally, about 1,700 people have signed up for AtHoc's text alerts.
When signing up, individuals are asked for zip code and housing area information. This information allows officials to target messages to those in an affected area in the event of a smaller localized problem.
Fort Riley officials encourage anyone who lives or works on post to sign up for the text messaging service.
Those who already have a CAC card and an account on the Fort Riley, 1st Inf. Div., MEDDAC or Corps of Engineers LAN, already have an AtHoc account and can receive pop-up and e-mail alerts. To check AtHoc notifications, right click on the "purple globe" in the system tray and select "Access Self Service."