A Seattle-based software company that keeps police officers, firemen and other first responders connected to essential information while they’re working in the field has strengthened its hold on the public safety market.
NetMotion Software Inc. has distributed its security, performance and analytics products to more than 80 percent of state law enforcement agencies and 70 percent of the nation’s largest local police departments and sheriffs, the company said on Wednesday.
More than 500,000 first responders across the nation are now supported by the software. “We’re in nearly every city,” Lee Johnson, director of Global Marketing, said in an interview with Homeland Preparedness News. “We’ve tried to stay very close to the public safety community.”
NetMotion’s software helps ensure that mobile users can continue to access data as they roam the field doing their jobs, moving from one wireless network to another. The software manages the client and server at either end of a network connection and the data flowing through the link.
If, for example, a police officer travels through a dead zone and unknowingly loses a network connection, the software will automatically establish a new link when it reacquires a network signal. “Everything just restarts itself,” he said. “It just picks up where it left off. They don’t even realize that they’ve lost connectivity.”
The Los Angeles Police Department is among NetMotion’s clients. “It’s an inconvenience when any of our officers have to spend time establishing a connection or are forced to re-connect suddenly to their mobile applications,” said Lt. Dan Gonzalez of the LAPD, as quoted in a statement from NetMotion. “We wanted our officers to be able to open their laptops from anywhere in the city, be connected and access what they need right when they need it.”
Uninterrupted data access helps police and firemen protect the public and helps them maintain their personal safety, Johnson said. An officer following a suspicious vehicle, for example, will be better prepared if he knows that the driver ahead of him has a history of violence.
The specialized nature of the public safety market has been a challenge. The speed at which NetMotion can deploy its software is governed heavily by the need for testing and quality control. Johnson said the company is a little different from other software providers who may be able to deploy a system quickly and then fix flaws that arise afterward.
NetMotion doesn’t have that luxury. An unforeseen outage that occurs because of a flaw in the software could put an officer in harms way. “We can’t risk, nor do we want to risk, a situation in the field that puts a law enforcement officer at risk,” Johnson said.
From its inception in 2001, NetMotion has made public safety a key market. The company sees renewal rates of up to 95 percent among its customers and much of its growth has occurred through word of mouth among agencies.
“NetMotion has proudly supported the public safety and government community for over 15 years,” Christopher Kenessey, CEO at NetMotion, said in a written statement. “We are steadfast in our focus to ensure first responders have access to the applications and data they need to protect and serve the public. Our ever-increasing market share in state and local government is a testament to our strength in ensuring mobile performance in critical government environments. Our software platform delivers the mobile experience IT needs and workers demand.”
NetMotion, a privately held company, currently has about 3,500 customers around the globe and about 130 employees. While the primary market has been the United States, the company also has been making headway overseas.
NetMotion also offers analytics software that helps IT departments evaluate the performance and improve the efficiency of the system.
While there are competitors, they’ve not been as focused on the niche that NetMotion now dominates. “The world is going mobile,” Johnson said. “We started in mobile and we’ve always been mobile. For us, it has been from day one. We’ve always been focused on the needs of mobile users.”
The company now sees growth in other sectors, including utilities, transportation, healthcare, telecommunications and government. Code inspectors, doctors and nurses, social workers increasingly need information on the go, Johnson said, and the proliferation of mobile devices and faster data speeds have only fueled the trend.
“More and more people are taking their work with them,” he said. “The challenge we see is the more networks become available and the faster they are, the more people want to do on those networks.”
Skype, for example, a telecommunications application with audio and video capabilities, may once have been limited in its adoption. But in many businesses today, Johnson said, Skype has become a critical application.
Where some early applications may not have been designed to handle the increase in data speeds over the years, NetMotion’s software insulates the client from those changes.
And for applications requiring high bandwidth, NetMotion’s software has data-compression features that allow users make the most of their existing bandwidth regardless of the network interface.
“We’re able to stay behind the scenes and to shift them from one network to another so that they can remain connected to their applications,” Johnson said.