June 18, 2019 — Chantilly, VA — AMERICAN SYSTEMS today announced that it recently achieved a major milestone with the successful system acceptance of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Emergency enterprise-wide Mass Notification System (EMNS). The EMNS is designed to provide a single, cloud-based system to send alerts to warn 100% of assigned forces quickly and effectively of an emergent event. To achieve this, AMERICAN SYSTEMS partnered with BlackBerry AtHoc and Microsoft Azure to design and implement a High Availability architecture utilizing the industry-leading BlackBerry AtHoc Crisis Communications Suite and Microsoft’s Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution. The system meets the USAF’s Crisis Communication needs for a commercial cloud-based, comprehensive EMNS. The EMNS will deliver reliable and secure emergency threat notifications to all personnel at all USAF locations on a 24-hour/7 days-a-week basis. The system was designed and developed under a five-year task order awarded to AMERICAN SYSTEMS in December 2017.
To achieve the highest level of notification, EMNS utilizes multiple, redundant communication channels to notify the USAF’s primary population (military and civilian personnel, contractors, and dependents) and secondary population (guests, visitors, and others) across geographically-dispersed locations. In the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or a tornado, or if there is a serious attack or threat to an installation, users receive pop-up alerts from their AtHoc Desktop Client software; telephone calls; text messages; and alerts on their AtHoc Mobile application, as well as text-to-speech announcements from Giant Voice systems at USAF installations.
At the heart of the EMNS are AtHoc application and database tier servers built into two distinct Azure DoD regions, providing geographic redundancy as well as infrastructure redundancy (telecommunications, power, water supply, etc.). This multi-availability, N-tier architecture creates a fully-integrated crisis notification and communication system and meets the USAF’s objectives and requirements. The architecture provides for a “hot standby” of the entire platform available at all times, in addition to the High Availability already provided by the internal Azure architecture.
“The successful development of the EMNS is a great example of what an innovative partnership between the DoD and the private sector can bring to bear,” said Peter Smith, President and CEO of AMERICAN SYSTEMS. “The collaboration between all parties resulted in some real technological breakthroughs and, ultimately, a safer Air Force—we know what’s at stake.”
EMNS is fully compliant with DoD cybersecurity requirements for a cloud-based system. AMERICAN SYSTEMS completed the Risk Management Framework (RMF) process, creating a full set of approved RMF documentation and performing cybersecurity hardening and testing. In addition, EMNS is fully compliant with the DoD's Secure Cloud Computing Architecture and includes the first Azure-based Virtual Datacenter Security Stack (VDSS) implementation to provide border and web application firewall, intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, and full packet capture capabilities. The system has been granted an Authorization to Operate and is currently being deployed to all USAF bases worldwide.