Updated AtHoc alert system delivers urgent news directly to subscribers’ fingertips
By Capt. Jennifer Nentwig, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
/ Published August 22, 2018
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, RANDOLPH - Texas -- Air Education and Training Command Airmen and their families have always been able to get information on the latest happenings at their location on their work computer, but now members and their families can receive immediate notifications through an improved AtHoc alert system and the new AtHoc mobile app available in the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
AtHoc is an emergency mass notification system that sends alerts to AETC members’ computers and cell phones. Every military and civilian in AETC is required to maintain an up-to-date AtHoc profile, including an after-hours contact number, a work email address, and – if he or she has a duty cell phone – a duty cell contact number.
“We need all AETC members to sign up for AtHoc alert messages via SMS text messaging and download the mobile application,” said Lt. Gen. Roberson, AETC commander. “Rapidly and effectively alerting AETC Airmen and our families about emergency situations is a critical component to responding to these events and ensuring the safety of our people.”
By subscribing for cell phone calls or text messages through the newly updated, more efficient AtHoc alert system, users will receive notifications regarding a select category of emergency events that require immediate communication. Examples of situations in which are alerts sent to personal devices include active shooter events, hurricane conditions, tornado watches and warnings, security incidents, base closures and delayed reporting.
“The command post can only send certain alerts to your personal device, and they aren’t always the same as the messages that pop up on your computer,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Morris Jr., AETC Command Post functional manager.
A listing of devices the installation command post sends alerts to for each respective incident is in Air Force Instruction 10-206 table 8.1, “EMNS Targeting Chart,” and can be viewed via the “HELP – Air Force Network” link in AtHoc.
“I’d say only one or two AtHoc alert messages go out to cell phones in an average month,” Morris said.
Members of the command post and the communications community are putting together a campaign to ensure all AETC members know about AtHoc, reaching out through channels such as newcomers’ orientations, base newspapers and websites, and emails from leadership. Based on the AETC requirements for individuals’ contact information, the team is striving to ensure 100 percent of AETC members have updated their profiles.
AETC members who receive notifications on their phones will benefit by having close-to-real-time situational awareness.
“Let’s say there is a situation where there is bad weather, and your base initiates delayed reporting procedures. You could receive an immediate call or text message with that news,” Morris said. “Or you can look at a real-world situation like the shooting last year on Lackland’s Medina Annex. The JBSA command post sent out an alert that day to let people know there was an active shooter situation, so people who had subscribed to the alerts knew to stay away.”
The AtHoc alert system is an opt-in system, so members must manually update their profiles with their contact information to receive notifications on personal devices.
“AtHoc doesn’t pull from any existing systems like the global address list because we are asking for people’s personal, after-work contact information,” Morris said. “We implore everyone to sign up because it really is the quickest way to get important messages. AtHoc has continuously improved during the past six years and includes more features to ensure members have the latest information at their fingertips. It’s leaps and bounds better than the old recall roster system, where multiple people have to call multiple people.”
To ensure their AtHoc profiles are complete and up-to-date, AETC members can find the purple AtHoc icon at the bottom right corner of their desktop screens and right click on the icon. Next, select “Update My Info,” select a CAC certification and view the AtHoc self-service page. From there, users can update their personal information, their device information and their unit-specific information.
For answers to frequently asked questions, click on the AtHoc icon and go to the “Help” page. For additional information or technical assistance, contact your installation Communication Focal Point.