Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about trends. What trends do you see in the public sector? What are cities and counties trying to do?
Jaime Ellertson: We’re in a little bit of a unique space. We’re a technology company that has a user population today of about 120 million. It’s a pretty broad distribution. It’s a global platform in over 200 countries. We affect a lot of people. We also do something that I don’t think anyone can claim. We actually do good everyday. We make a difference in someone’s safety on a daily basis.
In the citizen application and in the broad spectrum of man-made or natural disasters, most people today feel that it’s an increasingly distributed or global environment. You don’t really have to go farther than look at a war in Syria that’s now affecting all of Europe. You can’t escape that. The ability for us to be mobile and be in more places means that when something does happen, we expect to be notified.
We expect to get the right information so we’re not walking into an area where there’s something bad happening. Our systems are used to communicate a broad array and have the scale to communicate to one million in a matter of seconds. This is not on a single device but on virtually any device.
Sramana Mitra: How do you do that? If I’m a city and I have to send out modifications to people’s mobile devices, I don’t have everybody’s mobile devices in my system, do I?
Jaime Ellertson: I can break the way our system works in three different components. One is you essentially need to build a profile on an individual. City state governments get those profiles in a number of different ways. They often start with 911 data. Most people have that because when you call in and ask for the police to come to your house, you can’t literally speak something more than a few words.
Those systems have, by their very foundation, typically a name, address, and phone number. They start with that database which often is 50% to 70% of the population within a geographic location. In addition to that, we have white page and yellow page data for many geographic locations. It can be an entire country or a city. They create opt-in portals. If you got into San Francisco Alerts of Boston Alerts, there will be a site that allows you to build a profile and add to it. It specifically requests information when certain things happen.
For example, I could not be a resident but I could have a beach home in Florida, they would allow me to put in my location. Then whenever there’s a hurricane or a natural disaster affecting that location, I could know about it. If it’s my primary residence, I could update it because they could tell me alternate sites for parking like when there was the flooding incident in San Francisco. In New York city, if you don’t move your car in three hours, they tow your car. You could sign up for that type of alert. By that means, the city state or the public entity can get up to 80% or 90% of the population into a database to communicate when there’s a significant event.