Sramana Mitra: In terms of trends, what kind of adoption do you see in the citizens in signing up for these kinds of alerts through mobile devices?
Jaime Ellertson: There’s a couple of interesting things. I mentioned at the start about significant events like Super Bowl or the papal visit. In an event like the Super Bowl, the majority of the people attending aren’t from San Francisco. They’re from out of town and they’ve purchased tickets. How do you get those people into the databases?
One of the ways we do that is through a product Nixle which is our community engagement tool. There, you can simply advertise a keyword to text in. You texted that to the code and you were instantly included for Homeland Security, San Francisco, and Santa Clara for any major event that came up. That’s another way to supplement that to get people to opt in. Then we naturally go back to those people afterwards and say, “We see your mobile number. If you want to build a profile to get alerts for your community, you can do so by adding this other information.”
Typically because we’re not providing marketing messages, we’re protecting you and your family and it’s the state or your town doing the contacting. We get a high rate of adoption. The ongoing value is you can take that profile and choose different alerts. You can find out when there’s a weather event that’s going to affect your outing this weekend or your kid’s baseball game. You can be informed when there’s hailstorms coming into the area.
Those types of different information elections can be made by the citizen. So much bad stuff is happening in the world whether it’s man-made or natural, thta it fuels people to adopt. Nothing fuels our adoption as much as a major event whether it’s Super Bowl or a hurricane. The latest status that the FBI announced is that there’s a mass shooting once a day in the United States.
Sramana Mitra: Where do you see open opportunities for new entrepreneur to build new businesses in this general space?
Jaime Ellertson: Our unique capability is our ability to contextualise the information. It starts with a profile, but the second major component is someone can speak a message in. We take that message and we can contextualise it. In the State of Florida, I have to speak at least three different languages to get to a majority of any of the population of Southern Florida.
I also need to format a message differently if I’m sending it over text versus an email. We contextualise all that information to be able to distribute it over multiple different devices. We have found that, as it gets bigger, the ability to deliver it worldwide at volume with that contextual ability is the difference to get the right information, right person, and right place.