Amatra InTouch

- It’s Easier Than Ever to Purchase Business Continuity Plan through Texas State Department of Information Resources (DIR) 9/4/15

Now its easier than ever to purchase Amatra SmartSource™ for your organization through the Texas State Department of Information Resources (DIR) for Business Continuity Planning.

The DIR is a Texas state department which provides information and technology resources, including communications services, to state and local government and the K-12 public and higher education systems throughout the state. The DIR facilitates the purchasing of contracts through its volume buying power.

This new contract purchasing vehicle through the DIR will benefit organizations by saving valuable time spent comparing competitive products since the best price and value have already been negotiated by the DIR. This also provides a financial savings for the organization, which in turn is tax dollars saved.

SmartSource™ is the automated mass notification solution for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning.  After a crisis, SmartSource™  helps you resume normal business as quickly as possible.

Benefits by using SmartSource™  for Business Continuity:

  • Target the right people, at the right time
  • With the most effective and sophisticated communication channels
  • Real time notification and response
  • Reduces problems related to human error

Individuals will love getting relevant information on the go and that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, agencies will appreciate that they can get the right information out to the right people, as well as the time they have saved using the DIR to obtain their contract.

Click here for more information about the Texas State Department of Information Resources (DIR)

For more information about SmartSource™ or to request a demo, click here or call 512-535-5565


DIR Logo

- Solving the Emergency Notification Mobility Problem With No Sign-Up Technology 8/21/15

Americans are a society constantly on the move. The fact that more than 30 percent of households now use only mobile phones to make and accept calls today is telling evidence of this. It’s exciting knowing that we’re more mobile than ever before, but when you put our mobility in the context of an emergency situation, the excitement can turn to trepidation.

Silicon Valley Highway 101 Traffic HellThink of a busy highway full of commuters — the I-65 corridor between Chicago and Indianapolis, for instance, or the I-35 corridor connecting some of Texas’ biggest cities. Some listen to their radios. Others are on their cell phones already conducting business calls for the day. Some fiddle with satellite radio or music on their iPods. And still others simply drive in silence, shaking their fists at the other drivers along the congested road.


The problem

If there’s bad weather — a thunderstorm, tornado, wildfire or even black ice from a snowstorm — the roads are suddenly even more hazardous than they were with a normal day’s traffic.

If there’s an emergency ahead on the road, how do people find out now? The fact is, they don’t usually find out until they’re in the middle of it — when it’s too late to do anything about it.

Current emergency notification services don’t do anything to serve groups like commuters, who live in one place and spend most of their days either on the road or in an office somewhere.

The same goes for attendees at a conference like South by Southwest, which gathers thousands of people from all over the world. And music fans at a summer festival. And college freshmen exploring their campus for the first time.


The solution

But a new technology offers hope to these so-called transient populations. “No sign-up” technology uses cell tower locations to determine who needs to receive emergency notifications. Cell towers triangulate phone users’ locations and transmit a message to everyone with the appropriate technology in due time.

You won’t need to register for a service to get these notifications; the technology casts a wide net to capture as many people as possible and notify them of the emergency events going on so they can take proper action. So even if you don’t “belong” to an emergency notification service, you’ll still get the message.



The Federal Emergency Management Agency made huge strides toward implementing this technology on a massive scale when it introduced its Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS for short) and the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS for short), which creates a web of local agencies who will use the technology to notify residents in their areas of emergency situations.

Land lines tend to get jammed during times of crisis, but the no sign-up technology will allow these emergency notifications to be fast-tracked to those who need them most.

We linked to this video in a previous blog post, but it’s worth sharing again to get an idea of the technology and how FEMA is implementing it.

Is your state agency on FEMA’s list? Amatra will provide the platform for actually creating and sending these messages. Visit Amatra’s website to learn more about SmartSource mass notification technology. Amatra can also help you with the required paperwork and answer any questions you have about becoming a public alerting authority to send IPAWS/CMAS messages.


Photo: Richard Masoner,

– Mass Notification Systems as a Solution 7/25/15


image credit: afp_us_colorado_wildfires_03Jul12

Gunfire, a natural disaster, or a serious man-made accident has always affected a community. Now however, in a tightly packed urban area it brings chaos and a lack of control almost instantaneously. Efforts to coordinate a response to an emergency need to produce results just as quickly to bring a situation under control and begin rescue operations.

The key to a fast response hasn’t changed. Those seeking to address a situation must have the best communication methods possible. These are the issue motivating the developers of Amatra’s Mass Notification solution.

A communication system for a health and human services team in an emergency should operate quietly within a given network of people to keep a flow of answers coming to those groups responding. Past emergencies offer insight into the time and resources wasted when information doesn’t reach the individuals who need it the most.

What’s known from prior events is that civilians caught up in an emergency can respond in a number of ways including panic, fleeing from a scene, or attempting to help injured on their own. Confusion on the part of the public can at times hamper the efforts of qualified health and safety personnel.

As witnessed with recent tragedies it’s also known that soon after a major event cell phone communication can become problematic as the public in an overwhelming number attempts to make contact either with emergency services or with loved ones. This too can strangle or delay the flow of information from the public to emergency responders as well as tying up lines of communication between the emergency responders.

Amatra’s Mass Notification System addresses the problems of  various governmental agencies who will respond in an emergency with access to an integrated information network with multiple channels for a more reliable method of mass communication.

The failure of some systems is these lack the ability to send unique messages to certain groups while excluding others. Another issue is communicating with those in an area experiencing an emergency or those nearby who are not registered users of a system.

The Amatra’s Mass Notification solution is to address these needs by having an easy to use interface system that allows agencies to broadcast messages to those in the public within a certain geographical area even if they are not a part of system. It also allows for specific communication channels between groups of responders.


Click here to request a demo today!

– Incident Reporting and Safety at School, Colleges and Universities 7/11/15

Father hugging son safe from school

A school, college or university is a place of learning and relativity safety for most young people. Unfortunately all too often recent events have caused students, parents, and school officials cause to need a reliable system of communication during an emergency. During the first part of 2013 sudden and deadly violence on campus across the United States has mandated a need for response systems that address the unique requirements of schools, universities and colleges.

Communication is essential during a crisis on a campus. Families will naturally immediately attempt to contact each other which can distract from evacuations, interrupt cell phone communications, and even alert an attacker to the presence of a student or campus employee. Giving families information in real time, and giving them solutions to finding facts out quickly will forestall a number of issues a campus can face during an emergency.

At the same time those on campus such as teachers and faculty at Central Christian College in Kansas, also need real time information on what procedures to follow and how best to keep students under their direction safe. The SmartSource emergency response solution allows communication to flow to each of these groups either simultaneously or separately.

central christian college of kansas

The use of social media is a growing trend, and many educational institutions have found this is an effective means of communication to a point. In an emergency a mass broadcast of a message is possible, but it can backfire if some are not in a particular area or not part of a social media network, or if the message is not clear and understandable.

Other issues with social media include protecting a school from threats to it’s privacy, and misunderstanding or message’s content from affecting a school’s reputation. A single point of access to all official communications allows better control.

Amatra’s SmartSource emergency response system uses social media outlets including SMS message for better control of responsibility

in reaching out to communities and families, as well as communicating with students and facilities in an emergency.

AU logo“We have a range of prepackaged messages sitting in our portal, and a few groups created. That saves valuable time. After the event, we can evaluate the type of message we constructed, if it went out in a timely manner and how widely it was distributed.” 

- Chris Williams, Director of University Communications, Anderson University

This solution offers a better chance to plan ahead of emergencies and have message templates, and separate groups for messages already in a system in advance of needing them. Messages meant only for students or only for parents can be sent quickly and effectively.well as communicating with students and facilities in an emergency.

Schools can hope to never need to use emergency messaging, but having them at ready can prevent poor response to an unfortunate event.


Click here to Request a Demo Today!


– Amatra is hosting a June Webinar Series on Mass Notification Integrated with IPAWS/CMAS and Social Media 6/17/15

Amatra is hosting an interactive and educational webinar in June for Emergency Managers, Public Safety Coordinators, Directors, Chief of Police, City and County Managers. 

Key Takeaways from this webinar:

  •  How to combine notification and messaging via traditional Voice Telephone Calls, as well as SMS Text Messaging and Email.
  • Optimize 2-Way real-time messaging with the rapidly growing Social Media communities such as Facebook, Twitter, or Your Company Blog all from a single click of the mouse.
  • Get the inside scoop of FEMA / IPAWS No-Signup Technology for external citizen notification system.

Grab your spot today:


– Amatra Presents at The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs 5/23/13

Amatra at Venture Expo

April came and went quickly here at Amatra HQ, but it’s been a busy month for the Amatra team.  Kishan Siram, Amatra’s Founder and President, had the opportunity to attend and present at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business Venture Expo. The Venture Expo is held in November and May each year. The semi-annual showcases “Investor-Ready” start-ups from the University of Texas at Austin and select companies from the Austin Technology Incubator. The room was packed with about 500 investors, entrepreneurs and students. Amatra was there sharing live tweets and status updates via Facebook and Twitter (@amatra).

The event was packed the entire day. Out of the 16 companies in total who presented, here are my top 3 that I thought were fantastic:

  • Moniker Guitars – You can design a one-of-a-kind guitar that fits your sound and style. What a great gift for the musician in your life. Check out their website – one of the most interactive and fun websites I’ve seen in a long time.
  • SalesVu – The easiest way to accept credit cards from your iPhone or iPad with a free credit card reader and comprehensive cloud-based point of sale. Possibly better than Square due to the comprehensive cloud based management solutions and cost associated with card swipe fees.
  • Equipboard – The easiest way to find, share, & shop for the gear that your favorite pros are using. Pretty cool to check out what professional golfer, Bubba Watson is using to hit the longest drive in PGA history.

Which company would you invest in?

- Racing Against Mother Nature: Amatra Helps Indiana AHIMT Prepare for Hurricane Sandy 10/31/12

In late October, the weekend before Hurricane Sandy hit, the Amatra team worked with Tom Eckert and his All-Hazards Incident Management Team in Indiana to prepare for what could have been a devastating natural disaster blow from Sandy and her aftermath.

Sandy after Landfall

Sandy after Landfall by NASA Goddard Photo and Video, on Flickr

Eckert, a longtime Amatra customer in Madison County, Ind., helped ready the incident management team for disaster-situation deployment by using SmartSource™ technology to notify them that they might be needed.

This AHIMT is just one part of Indiana’s District 6 emergency-response task force, which also includes the emergency medical responders, fire departments and law enforcement of 13 Indiana counties.

During these preparations, the AHIMT was also preparing for potential out-of-state deployment to the East Coast, which is a much larger undertaking than their usual emergency deployments.

Team members are all volunteer, and emergency situations like Hurricane Sandy are never set on a convenient timeline, Eckert says. “You have to notify people, and they have to find out from their bosses and their families whether they can go. That all takes time and feedback.”

Amatra SmartSource™ is capable of reaching people through their home phones, cell phones, text messages, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, all with real-time responses for quick coordination

“We notified 35 members that they were on standby and, using SmartSource™’s real-time response technology, asked who would be able to go if we got called up,” Eckert says. “This all happens very fast, and we need to get back to state authorities who need us within a couple of hours to let them know we can fulfill our mission with the people we have.”


In Madison County, there’s been little more than heavy rain and some strong winds.

But while it may seem the state is out of the woods — especially compared to New York and other states along the eastern seaboard —there are still hundreds of thousands of people without power in Indiana, and in some cases, the debris along the streets is so thick that the crews can’t even get in to make the necessary repairs.

It all starts with emergency response and rescue, but after that, these teams have a wide range of important responsibilities in recovery mode, too.

Amatra SmartSource™ is helping those teams be more prepared to mobilize when they’re needed — and helps officials in the state of Indiana know they can rely on them. For more information on creating an emergency response strategy for your area using Amatra SmartSource™, send an e-mail to



The Amatra team sends best wishes to all communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you’d like to donate to the cause, you can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 or visit the Red Cross’s website for more information on how to help.


- IBM and Amatra team up to provide Smart Communications for a Smarter Planet 10/19/12

We think the work we do at Amatra is pretty important: Being able to communicate with large populations quickly and efficiently when the need arises is crucial in today’s fast-moving society.

But it’s been just as important for us to create strategic partnerships that help propel our business forward, educate more people about our software solutions and share our deep knowledge of multichannel communications. One of those partnerships is with IBM.


Why a partnership?

Amatra has been a Premier IBM Business Partner for more than three years, both as an independent software vendor partner and software reseller. Our expertise in mass notification also helps build on IBM’s capabilities.

IBM’s business is organized by industry. Its Government sector includes state, local and federal governments and agencies, as well as education. There’s also a cross-industry Public Safety sector where Amatra has created strong partnership ties.

Amatra’s founder, Kishan Siram, has traveled with the IBM team — and other partners whose services are complementary to ours — to various industry trade shows, including the International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference, and APCO’s International Public Safety Broadband Summit & Expo. Our SmartSource technology is also in place in five of IBM’s worldwide Innovation Centers.


Working toward a Smarter Planet

Thanks to Amatra’s SmartSource solution and strong expertise in the multichannel communication space, IBM approached us to participate in its government industry initiative and, later, in its Smarter Planet initiative, which is all about coming up with solutions that address the problems we’re facing across the globe. We talked to IBM’s Tom Roberts, a global partner executive for independent software provider and developer relations, about why a partnership like this is so important to everyone involved.

“People have become tremendously interconnected, which has resulted is an amazing amount of data created, both structured and unstructured,” Roberts says. “And across many industries, including public safety, you have to be able to make sense of this unstructured data.”

“This applies to services like what Amatra provides,” Roberts says. “We’re able to capture large amounts of data, analyze and sort through it, and use it to engage with this hyperconnected society of iPads, iPhones, BlackBerrys, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. We can take advantage of that to reach people at the end of those communication channels.”

We’re looking forward to fostering even smarter communications for a Smarter Planet in the future; our partnership with IBM is helping us be more agile than ever.

“There’s a demand for more software and tools with these capabilities,” Roberts says. “It’s driving relentless innovation for IBM and our partners to be best positioned to provide them to our customers.”


You can read more about Amatra’s mass notification and communication solutions for government on our website. And for an in-depth look at our unique partnership at work, read Amatra’s case study, “Anderson University increases campus safety with better emergency communications.”

- Amatra helps Hays County, Texas, rev up for F1 racing crowds with IPAWS/CMAS integration 10/12/12

Under the right conditions, with good weather and a meticulously trained, super-focused driver, a typical Formula 1 race takes one to two hours to complete. But the preparation required of the cities that host these races is extensive, from security to accommodations and food service.

Austin’s Circuit of the Americas will play host to the United States Grand Prix for the first time on Nov. 18, 2012, and more than 120,000 visitors are expected to fly into the area for race weekend. Nearby municipalities are preparing for an influx of visitors, too, including Hays County and the City of Buda.

Located 20 minutes south of Austin, Buda calls itself the Outdoor Capital of Texas, “an oasis of country calm at the edge of civilization” — but the city’s tourism officials are banking on things getting a little crazier there. In addition to the construction of new hotels and planning of concerts and other events to draw visitors to their tiny metropolis, Buda and the surrounding Hays County may need to reach out to residents and visitors alike in the event of an emergency during this busy time.

Kharley Smith, emergency preparedness SNS coordinator for the Hays County Personal Health Department, says counties aren’t always best equipped to notify residents or visitors in a larger context.

“Counties have a tough go because everything’s so fragmented,” Smith says.

The Hays County Fire Chiefs Association — which is made up of the fire chiefs of nine different fire departments, three EMS directors, and the emergency management departments for the city of San Marcos and Hays County — has been working together to propel emergency services forward, and their efforts have included incorporating Amatra SmartSource Mass Notification System into their emergency response strategies.

“Fires [and other disasters] don’t stop at the jurisdiction line,” Smith says, “so coming together like this has really helped us integrate well for our citizens.”

The Amatra staff helped Hays County prepare and file its paperwork with FEMA and register the county for use of the IPAWS/CMAS technology. With so many visitors coming through Austin and nearby Hays County in the next month, Amatra’s Mass Notification capabilities and FEMA’s IPAWS/CMAS technology could be tested in the event of an emergency situation.

“I see IPAWS as a huge asset going forward in emergency management, and Amatra was one of the first software applications that was incorporating that technology,” Smith says.

It’s impossible to know what will happen on race weekend, but as they work toward full implementation of Amatra SmartSource technology with IPAWS/CMAS integration, Hays County officials will be ready to handle any situation they face until long after the checkered flag falls.

- Using Social Media for University Emergency Response 8/23/12

About two years ago, on the morning Sept. 28, 2010, a 19-year-old math major at the University of Texas in Austin arrived on campus with an AK-47 and opened fire. His shooting spree ended in the campus’ Perry­-Castañeda Library, where he turned the assault rifle on himself and fired a 12th shot that killed him.

Timing is everything

The University of Texas has an emergency notification system for situations like this — as well as official Facebook and Twitter accounts for spreading important information — but the first message wasn’t sent until 20 minutes after the shooter got to campus and opened fire. We all know that every second counts in a situation like this.

In the meantime, the Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with news of the incident and warnings to stay safe…people around the world who are active on social media could have found out about the incident before many those who were actually in danger did!



There was a lack of official emergency notification, but even worse, the first messages to emerge weren’t official, and miscommunications abounded during those first critical moments. Rumors passed among unofficial parties can foster panic, which can of course lead to even less safe situations.

Though the shooter didn’t actually injure anyone, it’s quite clear he could have, and without proper emergency notification on where the manhunt was taking place, many students could have been in grave danger.

Students Paige Raiczyk, front left, and Veronica Rivera, front right, and other University of Texas students and faculty hold their phones awaiting updated text messages inside the Austin campus' Benedict Hall.

The university’s efforts

Take a look at the University of Texas’ emergency notification from that day on the Thunder Pig blog.

The University of Texas Police Department saw the number of Likes on its Facebook Page skyrocket from 469 on the day of the shooting to more than 10,000 two days later (there are 51,000 students on campus, and there’s no telling how many of the UTPD’s Likes are students).

As of late August 2012, the UTPD’s Facebook Page had 11,783 Likes, and when there’s not an emergency, campus law enforcement stays top of mind by posting other school safety tips, such as instructions on how to double lock your bike, and photos of ordinary campus life and events like the First Responders Bake Sale. This helps ensure that when there is an emergency in the future, students and the community will pay attention.

It’s clear that the University of Texas in Austin and the law enforcement that serves the student body is taking steps to make social media part of its first-response strategies. The UTPD called its first-ever use of social media in issuing emergency alerts a success, but timing is everything in situations like this.


Though the University of Texas in Austin shooting happened years ago, similar incidents have continued to crop up all over the country since then — this is not a problem that’s going away.

Visit our website for more information on how Amatra is working with universities to provide better emergency notification and communication during times of crisis on campus. You can also e-mail the Amatra team with specific questions about your organization.