Technology is giving us alternate virtual lives, space tourism, plastic-eating robot fish, AI that can make art. But it's failing us in basic human emergency situations.
And when it comes to emergency response, slow systems are a scary concept.
As incidents like the recent Nashville school shootings, and miscommunications during the New South Wales floods and the Black Summer bushfires have shown, cumbersome tech and outdated systems can cost lives.
CommandPost is the startup taking control rooms into the cloud.
It's Australia Day. Alex Rixon-Booth is working in an Event Operations Centre, overseeing a major public gathering. He's poised to respond to any safety issues that might arise.
Quickly (and concerningly), he realises that he's working within a disjointed operation with no coordinated communication. So he starts thinking about how he can get the people doing the important work on the same page...
Alex‘s career has spanned from government work to non-profit to logistics to major-scale events (like the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival). He spent 12 years as CEO of the volunteer consultancy I Need Helpers.
The theme that connects most of Alex’s experience is simple: collaboration.
Public sector emergency management runs across multiple bodies and systems.
Some of those systems have been in place since the early 00s. They’re not equipped to provide useful analytics or detailed reporting.
Through his research, Alex found that various emergency service agencies are still using systems that haven't been updated for over 20 years.
And when emergency systems go down, lives are quite literally on the line.
As the frequency and severity of emergencies grow, the demand increases for a solution that enables the public and private sector to respond to a wide range of emergencies.
Whether it's a natural disaster or a man-made emergency, innovation will ensure that the right resources can be mobilised quickly, responding parties have the right information, and that assistance can quickly be made available to those affected by crisis.
Why we like it
CommandPost can be set up within under five minutes.
Many competing products take time to implement, configure, and onboard users - a problem when emergency services can’t just pause emergencies to set up new software.
Many are also single agency use. CommandPost is a collaboration tool that can instantly grant access to multiple bodies working together to coordinate a response or avert a crisis.
This also means it’s self-promoting. A large portion of Alex’s client base was invited to the platform by other clients.
Another thing we like about CommandPost is its broad application. It’s ready for use in planned events (concerts, sporting events) and unplanned events (road traffic accidents, first aid calls), and it appeals to both the public and private sectors.
There’s a clear need for more efficiency across public emergency services. It can serve flood, fire, and disaster response teams (for which requirement is unfortunately increasing).
The demand for innovative systems will continue to grow as disasters become more complex and government regulations evolve following failings in response and communication.
But since the mass return to large-scale events, there’s a bustling market for private event management add-ons like security, attendee tracking, and incident response.
This was a big part of CommandPost’s go-to-market strategy. Alex made a major play in targeting events managers as customers. Major events are isolated, short-term, and replicable, making planning and scheduling easy and efficient.
Some of those customers have already included Melbourne Showgrounds, Vivid Sydney, St Kilda Festival, Salesforce World Tour at the ICC in Sydney, Melbourne Marathon, Melbourne Royal Show, Luna Festival, and Australia Day events.
It’s a busy calendar.
Why customers like it
In long-standing industries that are slow to adopt change, you’ve got to speak the language.
Alex’s background helps, but so too does his extensive consultation with government agencies, police and fire departments, and medical response teams. And the work that’s gone into making the user interface familiar and intuitive.
Alex has always understood that:
“In a critical crisis or incident, the program needs to be something very simple to tap into. We've created a system that when they log in, they're already familiar with the tool”.
This is the Data Age, and the ability to log and analyse incidents is highly empowering.
“All correspondence history, decisions, and actions taken are recorded, and are easily exportable for review of how an incident was handled.”
“Because of the way we're saving the information, we can get all these really in-depth analytics. You can see how many incidents are happening of a certain nature, a certain location, or a certain timing.”
This is a never-before-seen level of insight into patterns and causes of incidents and an extremely valuable precursor to emergency prevention.
Success so far
CommandPost has been through Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP)'s Velocity program; secured a contract with the NSW government and What3Words (a UK location service), and is building out a team of developers.
The team has seen members from NSW and Victoria Police, NSW and VIC State Emergency Services (SES), NSW and VIC Ambulance Services, as well as numerous private sector entities, use the platform.
Even more excitingly, it’s already made several rescues, including an urgent first aid call to someone in the middle of a national park. The software linked SES and New South Wales Ambulance to coordinate the response and help them locate the patient.
Time is money. In startups, timing is everything. In emergencies, timing is life or death.
Through getting to know Alex and his software, and taking a birds-eye view of the sweeping changes SaaS has brought to every industry, it’s clear the time is nigh for a huge overhaul of life-saving services.
We’re looking forward to helping Alex grow his team, opening the platform up to the public, investing in functionality, and getting CommandPost out of Australia and into the hands of global emergency bodies and response teams.