Atlanta Region to Use PIER Technology for Coordinated Communications

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UASI grant funding made purchase of communications management technology possible.

With PIER, we're confident in our ability to meet this demand, even if we can't access our offices or standard resources.

PIER Systems, Inc., leading provider of the online public information software PIER, today announced the recent purchase of 25 online PIER sites by the Atlanta Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) region. This announcement comes as an expansion of the area's existing relationship with PIER, increasing the region's number of sites from six to 31. The Atlanta UASI region has chosen this technology as the comprehensive solution that will allow the nine counties, 56 municipalities and numerous agencies within the region to coordinate response activities and communications.

"The many government entities that operate within the Atlanta UASI region need to be able to communicate with each other as well as others to provide an effective emergency response," said Rocky Moore, Emergency Management Director for Atlanta-Fulton County and Atlanta UASI Chairperson. "The PIER system, once fully implemented, will create an online communications link between all areas within the Atlanta region, ensuring communication needs are met not only during disaster situations, but also for day-to-day needs."

PIER, which stands for Public Information Emergency Response, is a fully hosted, web-based platform that is used for managing communications. The system's goal is to make available all of the tools communicators need on a central platform that can be accessed anytime, and from any internet connection. The result is a technology that allows a communicator or dispersed communications and executive team to handle all necessary communication tasks during a response. These capabilities include document creation, approval and distribution (via SMS, text-to-voice, e-mail, fax and the ability to post to Web), contact management, inquiry management and reporting, all without IT assistance.

"Like other large-scale UASI regions, the highly-complex communication needs of Atlanta's UASI region fit very well with PIER's offering," said Dr. John P. "Pat" Philbin, former director of external affairs for FEMA, and recently appointed Senior Vice President of PIER Systems. "There is a need in these regions for a central platform that will allow multiple jurisdictions to communicate with each other and coordinate response efforts. Relying on resources that may or may not be available when a disaster strikes, and that do not offer comprehensive communication capabilities is no longer an option for such groups."

Using PIER, the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, DeKalb County and Cobb County, among others within the region, will all be able to meet public information and stakeholder engagement needs, from anytime and anywhere. The online functionality of PIER allows it to serve as a virtual Joint Information Center (JIC) for the entire Atlanta UASI region, allowing off-site communicators to virtually join a traditional JIC in emergencies, without actually being present. Additionally, PIER recently announced an integration with the industry-leading emergency operation center (EOC) solution, WebEOC from ESi®. The result is a direct feed of situation status reports from the online Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to the virtual JIC (PIER).

"These groups must communicate not only with each other during high-profile events; there is also a significant demand for public information in such times," said Moore. "With PIER, we're confident in our ability to meet this demand, even if we can't access our offices or standard resources."

The Atlanta UASI region received grant funding by the Homeland Security Department, some of which was used for their PIER expansion. The funds are used to address various homeland security needs within the region, in alignment with the goals and objectives identified in the Urban Area Homeland Security Strategy and State Homeland Security Strategy. The ability to offer interoperable communications has been identified as a state, regional and national overarching priority, resulting in a significant amount of interest among UASI decision makers.

Following the events of 9/11, federal funding has been made available to major U.S. cities with exposure to natural and man-made threats. This funding comes through the Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). The use of such funds is decided upon by a committee within the Urban Area, typically made up of emergency directors, responders and local politicians, among others.

Now used by customers in many different sectors, the PIER system was created out of the Olympic Pipeline disaster in the northwest during the late 1990's. The event illustrated the substantial need by communicators for a centralized platform in order to coordinate efforts and meet the demands for public information. The United States Coast Guard, BP, Shell Oil, Boeing, several university systems and local, regional and state government agencies currently use the system to manage internal and external communications.

About Atlanta UASI

The Atlanta Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), a region including the city of Atlanta and a 10-mile buffer extending from the city border, consists of nine counties, 56 municipalities and numerous agencies. The Atlanta UASI region receives funds from the Homeland Security Department to support the safety and security of residents. Rocky Moore, the Atlanta UASI Chair, also serves as the director for the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.

About PIER Systems, Inc.

The Public Information and Emergency Response (PIER) System is the world's first and only full spectrum on-demand communication management web-application. PIER is designed to put all critical tools needed by communicators into a single, easy-to-use communication platform, allowing communicators and an extended team to work together from anywhere at anytime to fully complete and manage a wide range of critical communication tasks. PIER is used by many of the world's leading oil and energy companies, by major federal agencies, by leading universities, major corporations and a large number of smaller government agencies, non-profits and commercial enterprises. PIER is a product of PIER Systems, Inc. For more information, visit http://www.PIERSystems.com.

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Ryan Pemberton

Brian Sibley
PIER Systems
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