Cooper Notification keeps security, public connected at Inauguration

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WASHINGTON--An emergency text messaging system called AlertDC, provided by Cooper Notification, kept the massive security operation connected during this week's Presidential inauguration. By all accounts, the event went smoothly and the Cooper Notification system performed well.

Cooper's Roam Secure Alert Network (RSAN) system connects the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) with its counterparts in surrounding counties and cities, as well as with the 58 different government and law enforcement agencies involved in security for the inaugural events. It is a two-way system, so the government groups can respond to the alerts. The general public was also able to sign up to receive texts on the system. In addition to texts about emergencies, the system is also used to dispense non-emergency information--about traffic delays, for example.

Cooper has an agreement with three of the major cell phone carriers--which accounts for 93 percent of users, Ned Ingraham, vice president homeland security services for Cooper Notification said--to give special priority to RSAN text messages. "Our text traffic is not handled the same way normal text messages are handled," he explained.

There was a tremendous amount of text traffic on Jan. 20. In fact, Ingraham and other staffers were still tallying those statistics on Jan. 21. More than 20,000 DC-area residents and visitors signed up to receive alerts in 45 days before the inauguration.

Messages could be sent to specific groups, such as the Secret Service or FBI, or to the general public or any combination. "The group messages can be configured in any way imaginable," Ingraham said.

The fact that the system worked so well came as no surprise to Ingraham. "This isn't a new party. We were there [providing communications] four years ago," Ingraham said. "It's a tried and true system," he added. Cooper has installed similar RSAN system in more than 230 cities and metropolitan areas across the United States.

For more on this story, including statistics on the number of texts sent, see the March issue of Security Systems News.