It’s been drilled into your brain since you learned to walk: don’t take candy from strangers, look both ways before you cross the street, and in an emergency, call 911. But in today’s mobile world, what if the operator can’t identify your location because you’re calling from a cellphone? That frightening thought inspired Fred White, Jon Harmer and their team to come up with LaaSer911.
“The FCC estimates that we could save over 10,000 lives every year with a just a 1 minute reduction in 911 response times,” says Harmer. “To put that into perspective, that’s like a commercial airliner crashing every week, all year long.” That time is often wasted sharing addresses to pinpoint your exact location.
After making it through Techstars Atlanta’s first cohort, they are quickly landing partnering with the biggest carriers in the country. After all, if Uber Eats can find your exact location when you are hungry (surely an emergency, but maybe not the most dire), 911 operators should be able to as well.
Funding or bootstrapped?
LaaSer has raised $1M in funding to date and has another $500k committed. We are not raising additional money at this time.
What’s your pitch?
LaaSer makes 911 work the way you think it already does. Most people assume that since Uber or Domino’s can find you, of course 911 can find you when you need help. But that’s simply not the case, and it costs thousands of people their lives every year.
What problem are you solving?
When you call 911 from your mobile device the first thing you are asked is “What is the location of your emergency?” They have to request this piece of information because they don’t really know where you are. Currently, the only location they have when they answer the phone is the address of the cell tower that picked up your call. If a caller does not know their location and the current technology cannot find them, critical minutes are wasted that could mean the difference between life and death. LaaSer solves this deadly problem of delays in identifying location when you call 911 from your mobile device.
The FCC has recognized this problem and has directed the carriers to start solving it, and the new rules adopted in 2015 require that carriers be able to locate a caller within 50m for 80 percent of mobile calls by 2021.
How’d you get the idea?
As part of working in the telecommunications industry with cloud phone systems and related technologies, we were generally aware of a number of 911 location-related tragedies, but it wasn’t really until we saw the USA today piece written by Brendan Keefe and John Kelly that the extent of the problem really hit home. It simply didn’t make sense that in a world where Lyft or Uber can pull up right in front of us that 911 dispatchers often only have a vague notion of where we are based on which cell towers picked up our call.
How does the product work with your cellphone?
LaaSer is a patented solution that works by embedding a small piece of software on the device, be that a mobile phone, an Amazon Echo, your smart refrigerator, or a connected car. At the moment of the 911 call or other request for emergency help, that piece of software collects any sensor data the device has access to, be that GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth, Accelerometer, Barometer, compass, speedometer, etc, and sends that collection of data to our cloud location determining and decisioning platform that we call the LaaSer LIS (Location Information Server) which determines the most accurate dispatch location and helps route the call to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and provides that accurate location data. And if additional location information becomes available, because the phone is in motion, or we get even better location resolution, then that new location information can be rebid.
What’s your revenue model?
LaaSer receives licensing revenue from our partners, who are either carriers, network providers, handset manufacturers, connected car technology providers, makers of IoT devices, etc.
How did your experience in Techstars Atlanta help your team improve your startup?
The mentorship aspect of Techstars is one of the greatest things about the program. We were connected to some incredible people who went to great lengths to help our company out. And whenever we had a question about how to approach something or needed a connection to someone somewhere, there was always someone either part of our program or in the greater Techstars network that was ready and willing to help.
How does ATL weave into your story?
The Atlanta technology ecosystem has been very beneficial to LaaSer’s progress to date. Between the Atlanta Tech Village and the Techstars Atlanta program, LaaSer has been able to connect to numerous influential people and organizations to accelerate our growth and success. Both of us have been a part of the ATL technology scene for almost two decades, in startups and large companies alike.