Little League Baseball makes safe call with Ottawa emergency alerts service

An Ottawa-based firm with a unique emergency alerting system is helping to keep young baseball players safe at this year’s Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Amika Mobile Corp. has installed its Emergency Mass Notification product to the stadium where the annual championship series is played by 11 to 13 year-old children. The system allows for administrators and automated sensors to trigger alerts and send out emergency messages to computers, desk phones, and mobile devices. It’s part of Little League International’s plan to keep ball players from more than 80 countries safe at the world’s largest youth sporting event.

The tournament has been held in South Williamsport every year since 1947. Aside from the players, it also brings spectators and volunteers from around the world to the small town. Amika is providing its services in exchange for a sponsorship status with the event. It’s a good opportunity for exposure, says Sue Abu-Hakima, president and CEO of Amika Mobile Corp.

Amika Mobile provides emergency message broadcasting to many devices.

“For a technology company born and bred in Ottawa… that is helping provide safety and security in the United States for these thousands and thousands of kids, that’s a great thing for us,” she says. “They have to protect the children.”

Installed on a virtual machine in the stadium, Amika’s software solution automatically detects devices in the building that it can broadcast messages to. It has a built-in SMTP channel to send e-mails, a gateway server to communicate with networks and send pop-up windows to desktop computers, and can transmit both text and voice messages to VoIP phones. For the Little League championship, Amika is partnering with Red Oxygen’s SMS service to also send text messages directly to any mobile device in the stadium when needed.

That’s a critical capability when you’re coordinating the efforts of security, law enforcement, and emergency responders at the local, state, and federal level, says Jim Ferguson, director of security for Little League International.

“In the event of an emergency, severe weather alert, or even a schedule change, we need to be able to distribute notifications or alerts to the key players no matter where they might be on the complex,” he says. Amika’s system “allows us to respond quickly and efficiently to whatever situations might arise.”

Amika’s server product is paired with a light-weight client to send out the emergency messages, Abu-Hakima says. Weather information from several international reporting services feed into the system in case any critical situations arise – such as a hurricane warning.

Amika’s server can be triggered by many different events.

Automated alerts can be built into hundreds of different sensor types for Amika. It could detect a door opening, or movement on a security camera at a certain time of day. In some situations, the system can even be triggered by a sensor made to detect a specific type of hazardous material or gas.

Humans can also trigger the system, using a one-window console to issue alerts, Abu-Hakima says. “You don’t want to have 20 windows to go through in an emergency situation when everyone is panicking.”

The Little League also chose to work with Amika because its system was compatible with its Lenel Access Control hardware, used to manage its security system, Ferguson says. The server is also used to issue schedule changes to security staff.

The Little League World Series wraps up with its final game this Sunday.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at ITBusiness.ca. E-mail him at bjackson@itbusiness.ca, follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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