Spotlight: Drakontas develops mobile command and control software for police
DragonForce’s intuitive user interface allows first responders to work as a team to tackle challenging situations.
Since their inception, Drakontas attributes collaboration as the key to their success. The software tools Drakontas have designed and the research programs they manage are designed to be responsive to customer needs and changing requirements. Seeing the applications of their technology in the public safety market, Drakontas hopes to help first responders communicate more effectively.
Where did your company name originate from?
Our company Drakontas was formed in 2004 as a technology spin-out from Drexel University. Our name is a reference to our Drexel heritage – Drakontas is the Greek word for Dragon, and the Drexel mascot is a Dragon.
What was the inspiration behind starting your company?
The early work done by the Drakontas founders was in support of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. We also saw applications for our technology in the public safety space here at home and formed Drakontas to equip these first responders with the best communications and collaboration technology. Our team’s mission evolved from those initial experiences, and our goal is to improve the capacity of public safety by delivering software to help manage resources, business processes and emergency response capabilities.
Why do you believe your products are essential to the police community?
First, public safety professionals are constantly being asked to do more with less, making an already difficult job nearly impossible. To be effective and safe they need to work as a team with ready access to one another and mission-critical information. Our collaborative software provides very affordable communications tools that enable them to do their jobs more quickly, safely and effectively. Second, inexpensive smartphones, apps and data plans are putting communication and collaboration capabilities, which were until only recently accessible to specialty teams and military units, into the hands of anyone. The after action reports from Mumbai and similar events show that the "bad guys" are making use of these technologies, too. Police need access to public safety-grade versions of these technologies to stay ahead of their “competition.”
What has been the biggest challenge your company has faced?
Educating our customers is our biggest challenge. When we give a DragonForce demo the typical reaction is: “Wow – that’s amazing! It looks like something out of a Hollywood movie! I didn’t know we could actually have access to those kinds of tools!” We appreciate the positive reaction, but it underscores the challenge of educating the public safety community. Professionals are not generally out shopping for technology like ours because many don’t know that it even exists. That’s why we are really excited about our partnership with Praetorian Labs and PoliceOne.com. Their industry-leading voice and unprecedented access to the police community will help give us the exposure we need for our products.
What makes your company unique?
At Drakontas, we have a very unique approach to making sure we understand our customers’ operational use cases and requirements. Every Drakontas employee who works on DragonForce is required to participate in multiple embedded exercises with our customers – no exceptions. When a software engineer spends hours out in the freezing cold, pouring rain or sweltering heat side-by-side with a SWAT team member, he gains unique insight as to how an app should look, function and feel in the hands of a public safety professional and provide true utility in the real world. “Living with the customer” and learning from them up close and personal gives us domain knowledge that yields a better product. We don’t know of any company more committed to this process than Drakontas.
What do your customers like best about you and your products?
They are impressed by how intuitive the user interface is and how easy the app is to use. After just a few minutes of orientation, they are training their teammates. What they like about us is our willingness to go out in the field with them to get dirty and listen to their feedback to make our products even better.
What is the most rewarding part of serving the police community?
Being part of the team. It’s not easy to earn the trust of cops. So, when they tell us about callouts where they used DragonForce to help resolve a really challenging situation, it motivates our entire team – that’s why we started Drakontas.
Do you support any charitable organizations within Law Enforcement?
Our major charitable effort is our Safe Schools Initiative. We offer all of our public safety customers free licenses of our DragonForce software for use in the schools in their jurisdiction. We want to make sure that they can provide the fastest, most coordinated response to any emergency in their schools.
Is there any fun fact or trivia that you’d like to share with our users about you or your company?
Every employee hired by our company goes to the range and learns how to shoot. Firearms are an integral part of our customers’ profession and it’s important that our engineers learn for themselves how difficult it is to shoot well even in ideal conditions free from stress and distractions. We think we are the only software company in the world that requires all of its software developers to log time at the firing range.
What’s next for your company? Any upcoming new projects or initiatives?
We have recently announced the availability of configurable electronic forms for DragonForce. These forms can help improve routine, day-to-day policing through more efficient workflow and reporting. In many ways, we are bringing the mainstream corporate experience to the public safety community, leveraging tablet computers and smartphones by turning them into workplace productivity tools.