What the AtHoc-BlackBerry deal means for feds

AtHoc's product will be integrated into BlackBerry's secure messaging, possibly meaning real-time video in emergency scenarios.
(Flickr-Creative Commons - Ben Stassen)

BlackBerry Ltd. announced Wednesday the acquisition of a crisis communication company that works with a number of military and civilian agencies.

The Canadian telecom company acquired AtHoc, a California-based software company that provides a secure communication platform to connect large enterprises during emergencies. The platform alerts any device — including iOS, Android, PC and Mac desktops, digital displays, radios, IP phones, and endpoints such as sirens, fire panels and speakers — to help organizations connect and share information in crises.

AtHoc is currently used at 1,500 locations across the Defense Department, as well as outposts for agencies under the Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration.


AtHoc’s services are also used at the Agriculture Department, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Treasury Department.

BlackBerry is looking to integrate AtHoc’s platform into its enterprise offerings, hinting in a press release that it would fold the platform into BlackBerry’s secure messaging system, possibly providing live video feeds when AtHoc’s alerts are triggered.

“Federal departments, state and local agencies, and commercial enterprises alike depend on AtHoc to communicate reliably during their most critical moments,” Guy Miasnik, AtHoc president and CEO, said in a release. “Becoming part of BlackBerry will give us the ability to scale more quickly to expand our global reach and introduce new applications for the AtHoc platform, while continuing to serve our government and enterprise customers.”

A BlackBerry representative was short on details as to how the acquisition would change AtHoc’s platform for federal customers, pointing FedScoop to a blog post that features an interview with Miasnik and BlackBerry COO Marty Beard.

In the post, Miasnik highlights the real-time video collaboration while Beard emphasizes how AtHoc improves BlackBerry’s suite of mobility management tools.


“AtHoc’s technology really addresses an emerging need we’re seeing for systems that can gather information from different places, alert people when action is required — and provide a secure, reliable platform for those people to coordinate and collaborate in real time,” Beard said. “It’s the logical extension of an increasingly mobile workforce that depends on a variety of devices to access, share and action upon information.”

BlackBerry has focused on software over the past 18 months as iOS and Android devices have ravaged its share in the smartphone market. Last year, it became the first mobile device management company to get full operational capability clearance from the DOD. In June 2014, the company launched BBM Protected, an enterprise messaging service that meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Federal Information Processing Standards for cryptography, known as FIPS 140-2.

“We have a proud history of securing mission-critical communications for the public sector as well as enterprises operating in the most highly regulated industries,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a release. “AtHoc’s technology and expertise will play a key role as BlackBerry works to connect and secure a broad range of endpoints.”

Watch BlackBerry COO Marty Beard talk about BlackBerry’s future at last year’s FedTalks

Greg Otto

Written by Greg Otto

Greg Otto is Editor-in-Chief of CyberScoop, overseeing all editorial content for the website. Greg has led cybersecurity coverage that has won various awards, including accolades from the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Greg worked for the Washington Business Journal, U.S. News & World Report and WTOP Radio. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Temple University.

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