From mass shootings to traffic accidents, this app is helping first responders act faster and more efficiently
Israeli-based safe city app Reporty announced on Tuesday the close of their Series A round of funding, bringing in $5.15 million in new capital.
The round was led by former Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, who also took charge for the company’s seed round last year. Combined with the $1.8 million from their seed financing in April 2015 that came primarily from Barak with participation from the Chief Scientist’s Office, this new funding brings them to a total of $7 million raised overall. The remainder of the capital has been attributed to private investors.
Reporty’s team is no stranger to the world of operational security and technology. The company’s founder and CEO Amir Elichai formerly led an elite unit in the Israel Defense Forces and comes with a background in venture capital projects. He brings with him Pinchas Buchris, who has served in the past at the Ministry of Defense as its director. Bucharis also commanded the IDF’s signals intelligence unit 8200. Their VP for business development Lital Leshem joins the team with experience in the IDF’s operations branch. The company also has a strong set of tech minds, with VP for technology Alex Dizengoff coming from the Security Services’ Cyber unit and Yoni Yatsun, a veteran of the startup scene who is responsible for developing the navigation algorithms that are at the heart of the apps.
The app works through the instant communication between the user and the authorities. When the user activates the app with the press of a button, a two-way video and audio link is automatically made with the dispatcher. By speaking with the caller while viewing the situation in real-time, the dispatcher can quickly assess the nature of the emergency as well as its credibility, and advise the caller with potentially life saving instructions. At the same time, the app uses the phone’s location services to track the user and send the response team, even if the user is inside a building.
“Reporty’s platform has reduced the average duration of call for our clients by 67% to less than 45 seconds,” Elichai tells Geektime, emphasizing the importance of speed and accuracy for conveying information in emergency situations. “The reason is the instant and automatic amount of information transferred which allows the dispatcher to understand the full picture.”
Updates since their launch
In the year since Geektime first covered Reporty, the company has been working on improving their system and expanding to new locations.
Elichai tells Geektime that they have used the time to develop a full communication ecosystem for national emergency services which includes mobile apps, an API for seamless integration to an existing system, and an emergency infrastructure. He says that this infrastructure includes technology for routing, an indoor positioning platform, dispatch systems, and monitoring.
One of the most interesting and perhaps important aspects of their technology is in how they have designed their routing system that ensures that the caller can connect with the dispatcher.
“Our patented router system has a benchmark algorithm that tests (less than 2 seconds) the available communication channels around the person and makes a decision on how to stream the info,” Elichai explains to Geektime. “It can be through any channel IP/ umts / 2G / 3G /4G / LTE etc. The innovation is that it’s the separation of the channels and how to connect them back at the dispatch/command system in real time.”
This is essential for emergency situations where the most crucial element is making sure that all of the information makes it to the dispatcher.
Users can now reach emergency service call centers in 160 countries, with the app working to route calls to the relevant numbers according to their location.
Making the most out of mobile for first responders
The convergence of the rise of smart cities, fears of terror-related violence, and overall mobile connectivity has made way for a spike in interest for apps that make the jobs of first responders just a little bit easier.
Over the past year, the U.S. government in particular has made moves through different projects to collaborate with Israeli companies on developing these types of apps and services. In July, Geektime reported on how the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T)-backed NextGen First Responder Technologies program gave a $1.9 million grant to startups working on these kinds of solutions through the joint Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial R&D (BIRD) Foundation.
One of the companies that received funding is the Tel Aviv-based SayVU Technologies Ltd, led by CEO Amotz Koskas. Similar to Reporty, their product listens to audio, without needing to open the app, to help provide dispatchers with information on the situation and their location.
The previous month in June, the United States Defense Department’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) was in Tel Aviv for their now annual competition for new technologies and apps that can help security forces and emergency personnel. This year they included an app category, passing out $100,000 to the most promising developers.
Whether or not there really is an upturn in violence in the U.S. or other Western countries, is a question to be debated. What is certain is that there are now technologies available to help first responders react with more information and capabilities than before. Perhaps as important is that cities and federal governments are putting aside funding for these kinds of projects, making room for more entrepreneurs to enter this field and build successful products.
Plans post funding
Moving forward from this round, the company tells Geektime that they intend to use the freshly raised capital to continue developing new technologies, grow their marketing operations, and open a U.S. branch.