In the ever-changing world of situational awareness within the UK Emergency Services and support agencies it is not very often that something innovative and pioneering comes along that advances the field in a substantial way. ATAK is one of those exciting advancements.
The Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) is a U.S. Government developed off-the-shelf app for Android smartphones. Currently, there is a Windows version as well as an iPhone variant currently in development.
The app uses GPS and maps to give the user a real-time view of the environment and tasking. This new situational awareness app’s capabilities include pre event planning and strategy, on-going event situational awareness, and personal and asset tracking to name but a few key functions.
The app enables multiple types of encrypted data communication such as text and file sharing (including photos and video). These communications can be set for user-to-user, user-to-select teams, user-to-command post or user-to-entire force (even if they are from different agencies). This level of integrated communications was unavailable before ATAK.
ATAK was originally developed in 2010 by the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y. for use by U.S. Special Forces. It was tested through years of real-world use in combat situations. It is now also being rolled out in the UK Military. After countless successful military operations, it has now been modified and adapted to support non-Military operations.
The roll out of ATAK outside Defence has been driven by major events such as the Yarnell Mountain Fire where 19 Hotshot Fire Crew were killed during a major Wildfire in 2013. The U.S. state of Colorado began the development of ATAK in collaboration with the U.S. developer PAR Government who had been a major part of the development of ATAK in the Defence environment. The introduction of PAR Government’s “TeamConnect” platform running alongside ATAK allowed for its easy transition into its new theatre of operations.
In August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey ripped through the state of Texas. The federal, state, and local response was massive. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the UK equivalent of the Home Office, deployed the ATAK to support the complex communication and coordination needs of the multi-jurisdictional responders.
This decision was a turning point in the continued development of ATAK. ATAK is one of those “game-changers” that dramatically alters the user’s understanding of the action in any given area of operation (AO). The users, known as “operators,” could be law enforcement, fire, Emergency Medical Service, personnel from other agencies, or even military. Operators receive attributed transmissions instead of hearing intermittent radio transmissions from unknown operators.
Most of the operators provided with ATAK in Texas had never used it before and many were skeptical. However, the ease of use, situational awareness, cross-agency communication, and coordination capabilities of ATAK quickly won them over. Multiple organizations used it to coordinate rescues, respond to criminal activity, identify infrastructure breeches, and establish perimeters in danger zones, in addition to multiple other collaborative activities.
The success of ATAK in Texas prompted it to be deployed again when Florida was dramatically impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, which also wrought devastation upon Puerto Rico. Again, ATAK proved its worth in a crisis.
ATAK’s community source plugin architecture enables rapid integration of innovate technologies into its capability, which allows it to grow and adapt to the continually evolving technological market. In other words, ATAK was built to be flexible enough so when there is a new “must have” communication device or other technology, anyone can quickly write code enabling the use of that technology within ATAK.
ATAK integrated with TeamConnect is now available for the first time in the UK and Ireland for non-Defence Agencies through an exclusive partnership with Terberg DTS UK in Elland West Yorkshire and PAR Government in Rome, NY (USA). Terberg DTS will be rolling out the PAR “Team Connect”solutions which are already highly secure to UK and Ireland to the end users and support them in the introduction, application, and training needs.
Alisdair Couper MD of Terberg DTS UK ltd said in the announcement; “ATAK is rapidly becoming the “go to” platform for multiple agencies in the U.S. and further afield. It provides a far better awareness of the situational environment to its users; additionally it allows for better pre-planning and improved application of the excellent training that we already undertake in the UK and Ireland. Smart devices are the key to improved future performance and ATAK will certainly be at the centre of this. We have already seen a huge amount of interest from the Emergency services sector and look forward to playing our part in improving the safety and efficiency of operations which will also in turn save lives as it has done around the world.”
“PAR Government is pleased to be working with Terberg DTS UK ltd to bring the TeamConnect TAK Server-as-a-Service to ATAK users in the UK. We look forward to assisting agencies make the deployment of ATAK very simple and highly cost effective,” said Vice President of PAR Government’s Products division, Mark Kozak. “ATAK with TeamConnect is ideal for responders to emergencies and disasters, as well as organizers of public gatherings, sporting competitions, and public festivals.”
About PAR Government
PAR Government Systems Corporation is a leader in providing computer-based system design, engineering and technical services to the Department of Defence and various federal agencies. An ISO 9001:2015 certified company, PAR Government is a wholly owned subsidiary of PAR Technology Corporation (www.pargovernment.com).
About PAR Technology Corporation PAR Technology Corporation, through its wholly owned subsidiary ParTech, Inc., is a customer success-driven, global restaurant and retail technology company with over 100,000 restaurants in more than 110 countries using its point of sale hardware and software. With the recent acquisition of leading Loyalty solutions provider, Punchh Inc., PAR has become a Unified Commerce Cloud Platform for Enterprise Restaurants. PAR’s platform enables quick service, fast casual and table service restaurants to improve their operational efficiency by combining its cloud-based Brink POS®, Data Central® backoffice, PAR payments and now Punchh loyalty software with the world’s leading restaurant technology platforms. PAR Technology’s Government segment is a leader in providing computer-based system design, engineering and technical services to the Department of Defense and various other federal agenciesPAR Technology Corporation’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PAR.
About Terberg DTS UK
Terberg DTS UK Ltd is part of the Dutch Royal Terberg Group. Based in West Yorkshire, Terberg DTS is a major provider of Specialist vehicles, Equipment and Solutions for the Civilian and Military Market sectors. At the forefront of innovative solutions for its clients’ needs, it has just announced an expansion of its UK operations and the recruitment of additional staff. For more information, Contact Terberg DTS UK Ltd, Lowfields Way, Elland, West Yorkshire. 01422 257100
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