High demand prompts early launch of response portal

A new Ottawa company has had to fast-track the launch of its emergency response portal due to increasing demand, the company’s president told OBJ recently.

The company is also called Emergency Response Portal (ERP).

ERP gives property managers immediate access, on their mobile device, to key information on their properties, including live camera feeds.

Property managers can also get access to emergency contacts, building access codes, floor and fire plans, and other critical building information. They can then allow access to trusted third parties, remotely, including first responders.

It’s this access that can save time and potentially save lives in an emergency.

“Frankly, some of the major police forces out there … are scrambling with this high concern about terrorism right now,” said ERP president and co-developer Mark Macy.

The original plan was to launch the portal at the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG) event in Ottawa Dec. 1 that is sponsored by The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and the Paramedics Chiefs of Canada.

Public and private sector demand pushed the launch up to last week.

Mr. Macy, who is also the owner/operator of Security.ca, is one of six partners in ERP, which he says can also prove valuable in an emergency where a life is not in danger.

A broken water pipe, for instance, may not seem like a big deal but it is to a property manager, Mr. Macy said.

“They are going to want to have their contractors, their plumbers, or their operational people on site to shut down the water. Where does the water shut off?”

Information like that is available if for the individual property manager’s use.

“Every property manager populates his own data,” said Mr. Macy. “We have a template to go in and we have the algorithms in there to encrypt the codes and to connect the cameras.”

All the data is stored in the cloud, and Mr. Macy said the server centres are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The centres are on either side of the country.

“You have to take out Canada basically to take us down,” he said.

Mr. Macy said the portal is easy to use.

“You don’t have to rip out your stuff to use our stuff. We just come in and play with what you’ve got,” he said. “So that’s one big, big component and the thing is, there’s no special software. For any browser that comes through our portal, you connect to our portal and boom, we connect to your properties.”

Privacy is also important, Mr. Macy said, adding that no third party – even first responders – have access unless the property manager approves it.

“We also developed a system where we don’t connect to any historical data at the site. We don’t connect with any network video recorders,” he said. “We only have to think live feeds in an emergency.”

Mr. Macy said he has never seen anything like the ERP in his 31 years in the security business, and he now has international patent protection pending.

Brian Roberts, a past president of BOMA, is one of the partners in ERP and Mr. Macy said he and Mr. Roberts are taking care of most of the funding.

“As you can imagine, it has been very expensive, but we passionately believe in what we’re doing,” said Mr. Macy, adding that ten properties have signed on so far and another 50 are “in the pipe.”

ERP has also had some discussions with police, fire, and paramedic services in a number of cities. There would be no charge for them to use the service. Commercial property managers are charged one cent per square foot a year. Residential property managers pay $10 per unit per year. There is a price floor of $750 and ceiling of $10,000.

Mr. Macy said he has had some interest from outside investors but ERP may not have to go that route.

“We have some significant property management firms coming on board. When they come on board, I doubt we’ll need outside income,” he said.

While ERP decided to launch before the ERP event, the company will still attend the conference, where they will have access to 250 to 300 managers of different civic emergency services across Canada.

Mr. Macy said his company is ready for all of them, in the unlikelihood they all want to join immediately, saying it would take about 36 hours to get 300 different emergency services organizations on the system. He said ERP is ready for more properties too.

“We could load 10,000 properties (into the system) tomorrow. We’re good to go,” he said.