BlackBerry (TSX:BB) has signed a one-year renewal agreement with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA), a civilian agency within the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the safety and security of the occupants, visitors, and infrastructure of the Pentagon building and 69 other defense installations in the Washington, D.C. area.
In March, PFPA piloted a program using the AtHoc Networked Crisis Communications Suite, developed by Silicon Valley-based BlackBerry division AtHoc, in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s Interoperability Act (H.R.615), signed into law by President Obama in July 2015.
“We are honored by the continued trust in AtHoc by the Pentagon towards protecting its personnel,” said Guy Miasnik, President of BlackBerry’s AtHoc division. “Their trust in AtHoc reinforces a shared mission for early warning, personnel accountability and cross-organization information sharing during times of crisis.”
The one-year contract includes the possibility of an extension through to 2020, and will continue AtHoc’s supply of internal and external alerts, messaging and emergency notification services for the Pentagon and 37,000 other employees working in U.S. Defense Department buildings, including Enterprise Alerting for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Security Services, and the DoD’s Washington Headquarters Services.
The 2015 legislation was a response to the difficulty of coordinating first responders in emergency situations, including the Pentagon Police, anti-terrorism and protective services agents, and threat management agents such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives technicians.
The pilot program saw representatives from all major services, including the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, as well as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), testing efficient communication procedures using the AtHoc Networked Crisis Communications Suite in a simulated “war-game” scenario.
Implementing AtHoc’s suite, the PFPA was able to notify external organizations across each of the participating federal, state and local agencies, in compliance with the new cybersecurity rules, as well as DoD and other federal agency regulations.
AtHoc’s Networked Crisis Communications Suite comprises several integrated applications, including Alert, Collect, Account and Connect functions, which unify crisis communications between organizations, people, devices, and external entities.
BlackBerry did not disclose the value of the agreement.
Throughout BlackBerry’s well documented troubles in the hardware space, security has been a mainstay of its business plan. In February, the company annonced the acquisition of Encription Limited, a UK-based cybersecurity consultancy, a move that paired with BlackBerry’s new Professional Cybersecurity Services practice, aimed at providing tools and best practice cybersecurity at an enterprise level.
“BlackBerry is the gold standard when it comes to security and we’re always evolving to maintain this high standard as the complexity of enterprise mobility and security increases,” said BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen at the time. “We recognize that security vulnerabilities are a top risk concern for public and private sector organizations alike. The creation of our Professional Cybersecurity Services practice and acquisition of Encription reinforces our commitment to providing customers the industry’s most secure mobility solutions and helping them to assess and mitigate risks.”
Encription has been certified according to the British government’s highest security specifications, while BlackBerry of course also has a long-standing reputation for providing secure communication services to all G7 governments, 16 of the G20 governments, 10 out of 10 of the world’s largest banks and law firms, the top five largest managed healthcare companies, plus investment services and oil and gas operations