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News > ABW transformation project saves time, maybe lives in case of disaster
ABW transformation project saves time, maybe lives in case of disaster

Posted 3/25/2011   Updated 3/25/2011 Email story   Print story


by Brandice J. O'Brien
Tinker Public Affairs

3/25/2011 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- When seconds matter, Tinker makes those moments count.

Should a natural or man-made contingency threaten the base populace, officials use the AtHoc installation notification and warning system to get the word out. Used in conjunction with sirens or the "giant voice" loud-speaker controller, AtHOC proves necessary. Following a recent rapid improvement event, the recently upgraded and improved AtHOC is a vital asset to the base.

"In critical situations, seconds can save lives," said Capt. Clarence White Jr., 72nd Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight commander and RIE team member who uses AtHOC. "This system saves lives, makes our installation safer, and quickens the disaster recovery of Tinker and the local community."

Despite the system's advantages, there had been features that were areas of concern. A 14-member team made AtHOC its focus for a November 2010 to January 2011 RIE.

Lola Burwell, 72nd Air Base Wing chief of Wartime Contingency Plans and RIE team member, said when a notification was sent, not everyone -- particularly Defense Logistics Agency and Navy personnel -- received it. For those connected to the domain, receiving a message was random. Sometimes only a handful of people in an office would receive and react to the message, while their peers were left uninformed or received the message hours later.

In other cases, people were overloaded with notifications. AtHOC offers texts, phone calls, computer pop-ups and e-mails. Additionally, if the system was set to call duty phone numbers, 10 phones might ring within seconds of one another in a single office.

"We learned we were using it on a way wider scale than it was really intended to be used; because of that we were overloading base servers," Ms. Burwell said. "So, if we're trying to notify 10,000 people four different ways, that's 40,000 notifications."
In order to still get the word out and keep the confusion down, the RIE team realized they didn't need to use all of the system's notification methods at once.

"We can notify over 90 percent of the people in less than three minutes if we just use computer pop-ups," Ms. Burwell said. "Plus we also have the sirens, the giant voice system outside and the commanders' network."

Around the base, including areas near Bldg. 9001, Glenwood Training Area and the 38th Cyber Engineering Group, there are 16 sirens plus two activation sites.

Combined with word-of-mouth efforts, AtHOC is an improved and effective way to get a message out to the masses.

"Often, it is that viral spread of information that can distribute word faster than the most advanced information technology," said Maj. James McCloud, 552nd Air Control Wing Command Post chief and RIE team member. "The benefit of rapid awareness of impending serious events would appear to be self-evident."

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