Mass Communications with Titan HST

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Welcome to EM Weekly, I am Todd DeVoe, and today we have a special guest here, with an awesome communications tool, and just for full disclosure, I saw Vic from Titan HST give a presentation, and I fell in love with the product, and I’m actually going to implement this product at the university where I work. Vic, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Thank you so much for having me on the show today! So, my name is Vic, and I’m the CEO and founder of Titan HST. And we’re very excited to be here and talk about this product, and talk about emergency communication in general. We really believe in the importance of empowering users in this day and age with everything that’s going on. That’s a passion of mine. I’ve seen a lot of people struggle in emergencies, and one of the fundamental things that I’ve seen people struggle with is that they need to get help and communicate and have peace of mind. And so, we wanted to create something that empowered people to do that, no matter where they were, and that is something I’m very passionate about.

[TODD] You have talked about empowering people, and I think that’s really awesome. What do you think got you started in this business?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] The thing that got us started in the business was… back in the day, I’m sure there were threats, but it wasn’t… it didn’t feel like there was something that could happen around every corner, you know? Whether you were at school, whether you were at work, whether you were at the mall. It feels like these days, everywhere there can always be something. And the thing that drove us is we wanted something that could empower users, but we didn’t want something that was gonna track us and not be a privacy censorship. So, we wanted to create something that’s as powerful as possible, whether is to attach a picture, a group audio calling, video, augmented reality; so, we wanted to basically have this set of tools, just like when you get on social media, you know? You can pick your Facebook, you can pick your Twitter, you can pick your Instagram. We wanted to have the same thing for emergency communication. We wanted to have as many options as possible for communication that can suit whatever scenario that you’re in. While also maintaining privacy. And with that, our goal is to empower users, people like you and me, while also allowing additional information to crisis managers and the police, so they have more situational awareness. And the situation they can respond both quickly and more directed.

[TODD] So, one of the things that really impressed me with your product when we were looking at it, was the two-way communication. And I really think that was key. Tell me a little more about your two-way communication.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] So, the two-way communication is kind of a unique feature to our system. And basically, the idea behind it is, is modernize emergency management and emergency communication. There’s this focus on: ok, something’s happening. Let’s send out a notification to people; whether it’s a text message, e-mail, whatever. And assuming that goes through fast enough, which mostly, they don’t, that’s great. But the thing is, how do you get the information from the field, of the crisis manager, the police, security, etc., and afterwards, how do you update that information and get basically conversation form? So, the two-way communication system that we built, we built something that’s really, really optimized from the data perspective, because in an emergency, whether cell powers or wi-fi, the networks get congested and overloaded very quickly. So, the question is not only if you have coverage in the first place, but will that coverage sustain in an emergency? And the answer many times is, it struggles. So, our two-way communication system, we built an optimized system that allows that back and forth communication, everything from finding GPS location to the text picture, audio video group calling, and augmented reality, which really allows a conversation in an emergency situation. Not only does that give the first responders better situational awareness, but also, when you’re in a situation, knowing help is coming, knowing what’s going on, gives such a level of peace and comfort to the people in the crisis, knowing that you’re not there alone, than waiting, not knowing if help is coming, if something is happening, you have no idea, you know?

[TODD] I know that’s one of the biggest complaints in a lockdown situation. People that are in the rooms are asking what the heck is going on. And they’re still scared and not sure if they’re safe or not safe, and be able to communicate back and forth is really kind of key in a situation like that.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] That’s so true, that’s so true. And then, it even got… and we always talk about the not still emergency, which is definitely happening more and more throughout these days, but also you’ve got the individual emergencies, so imagine that you’re walking with your friends, and your friend suddenly chokes, or has an allergy or something, what’s the two-way communication? If your friend summons help on your behalf, they can be guided via video on how to engage a CPR until the first responders can get there, how to do the Heimlich, do whatever… you know, maybe some other necessary action or something. That almost creates some basic level of first responders out of any person who is there, until trained first responders arrive.

[TODD] That’s super powerful right there. I know that’s one of the big things, is getting people there early. And you know, the kind of cool part about that too, is that throughout the world, your “first responders”, the people who are gonna do a lot of the individual rescue, are the people themselves. And for them to have a resource like that, to be able to help until the trained professionals can get there, that’s really empowering right there, for sure.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Exactly. Cause, as you know, seconds or minutes can make a big difference. So, even if you’ve got help coming from trained first responders within a couple of minutes, I mean, if you could do something like CPR for that first minute or two, until the trained professional gets there, you can really minimize the threat of physical safety for that period.

[TODD] Yeah, that’s so true. And you know… when I was working in the field, I ran a call where a lady was stung by a bee. And she was allergic to it. By the time we got there, she was so swollen, we couldn’t do anything, we could’ve given somebody some additional information, maybe she could’ve been alive today, who knows.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Yeah, maybe she would have had something with her. You never know.

[TODD] Right, right. So, one of the things… one of my frustration with communication and mass communication was that process of… and I’ll probably use a wrong term here, but the one I know is called throttling, where send masters out, and because it’s overloaded in the system, it slows them down. And sometimes, some cases, we put out messages where people were getting the “all clear” before they got the “alert”, and then they were confused, and they were calling us to ask a lot of questions. Or didn’t even get the “alert” or the “all clear” until the day after the event was over. So, what are the trends in emergency communication, and how does your program… how does your software kind of get around that problem?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] That’s a great question. And as you correctly pointed out, it’s one of those things that a lot of times people don’t realize what they’re experiencing. It’s one of positions where you’re like: oh man, what’s going on? Cause all the systems are communicating and no one gets the communication. So, there’s two separate issues here that go on from the technological stand points. The first one is, yeah, there is a throttling issue. Some companies, some technologies, they can’t sustain the load, so they throttle, which completely defeats the purpose of sending push alerts to 500, 10,000, 50,000, whatever the number is. What good is gonna do this throttle to these… whatever arbitrary number, or whatever? The other issue is, many many many companies don’t have the infrastructure in the first place. So, forget even throttling. They don’t have the infrastructure. It would be the equivalent of trying to tow a giant, heavy trailer on a tiny engine. It’s not gonna move, you know? You can force, it’s not gonna move. So, what we’ve done to address that… and I think you’ll see more of this in the market, in the future, we don’t hold IT on it. I think what you’re gonna see is, we’ve done a few different things; the first thing is, we have very high capacity systems. Then, we have also set them up in a geogroup, so if you’ve got power outages, anything like that, that knocked out one system, we have a redundant in another area throughout the country and internationally as well, too. So, not only we have an infrastructure that’s resilient to local issues, but also a system that is able to sustain the heavy load. Now, I think in the future… let me take you one step further, it’s a great question that you’ve got. So, I think what we’re gonna start seeing is more back end infrastructures, and I think you’re going to see that by ship to the clouds, rather than in-house server architectures. We are already there, and we’re taking it one step further, which I think the market is gonna catch up to it in the next few years. Who knows where we’ll be at that point, but I think they’ll get to where we’re going there, and what that step is, is not only now do you need to increase the capacity, and the easiest way to do that is by going to the clouds, but then, to add a later artificial intelligence on top of the architecture that we have, to be able to legitimately determine what is clean traffic vs. what is dirty traffic, so you don’t have dirty traffic bugging down the system during a real emergency. And I think that’s where we’re going to see the technology going in the future.

[TODD] That’s really cool stuff right there. I know that over the years, testing different systems and what not, it seems like yours is for sure more innovative than the other I’ve seen in the past.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Just so you know, the other thing to it, as technology is evolving, there is so much more at our disposal than there was a few years ago. Because not only you have the throttling issue, the capacity issue on the servers, but one of the things that Titan does, and I think the market is going to move towards to is, you can compress data locally on the mobile devices before you send them. So, not only can you create more back end infrastructure, and more intelligent back end infrastructure, but you can reduce the amount of data while containing the same amount of data, that go on the network on the first place, to then create capacity and also local decrease burden on the local networks, whether that’s cellular, or Wi-Fi, or whatever.

[TODD] That’s really kind of cool, actually.

Titan HST

[TODD] Vic, so we’re just discussing your system here, how it works a little bit, and the trends that happen or are happening in here in mass communications. So, I do have this one question for you… I think as a consumer, who is looking for a product, what are the critical questions that we should be asking our emergency communications provider?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] That’s a great question, that really is a great question. And there’s a few things that I think you gotta make sure that any emergency communication system has. The first thing that I look into is the security of the system itself. Specifically, how the data is stored, where the data is stored, is it encrypted, is it encrypted on transit? What encryption protocols do they use? So, the first and most important thing, before you even get to the performance of the system is: is the data safe? Because you’re loading your users, as an organization, you’re loading your users. So, is the data safe? The next question that I think that’s very important is in metric on performance. So, what is the performance of the system? Is it reliable? And what does reliable mean? Do you have multiple locations for the servers? Do they have power backup? Are they resilient to both digital threat as well as physical threat? You know, if someone gets into their crowded infrastructure. What kind of capacity does it have? Does it have throttling as you mentioned? Does it have a certain cap on what it can spend? So, finding out what the performance metric of the system is. So, we talked about making sure the data is secure. We’re made sure that the product itself, their infrastructure can be sustained. Then, the last question that I think it’s important, is the redundancy. How do you access the system? In an emergency, as we all know, time is of the essence. So, do you need to run back to a desktop computer and try to log in there to send out a notification? And keeping in mind that if there’s a power outage, that desktop is not even gonna power on, you know? So, how are you getting into that emergency communication system? Does it have mobile? Does it have tech? Does it have e-mail? Does it have web? That way, not only do you have a multiple point of entry for crisis managers and users, but also a redundancy in being able to disseminate that information, to get to people in as many ways as possible to make sure that the messages are going through.

[TODD] Yeah, that’s key too, for sure. Now, I… correct me if I’m wrong, you guys have that one-click message system, right?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Exactly. And that’s one of the things that we really believe that’s important in an emergency. So, on one hand… sometimes, you need to immediately lock down or send out notifications to you site. So, with that in mind, we created a one-touch lockdown system. If you have a mobile device, an iOS device, iPhone or iPad, you know you don’t have to open the app, you can click it from the home screen itself, and with one click you can send out notifications to your whole site instantly. That’s received via push notification, text message, e-mail, and web popup. At the same time, when you need to communicate more information, it even has that broadcast functionality, which with one click opens up the broadcast, and there you can type a short message, picture, audio or whatever, and put that out to your whole user base.

[TODD] I know that sometimes, working with the other systems, you have to go in and log in, and go from log in to the messages, from the messages to this, and this, and this, before you can push the message out. So, that’s some really great…

[VIC @ TITAN HST] And that’s a great point you bring up, because the thing is, when you look at these mobile devices these days, they’re all password protected by fingerprints or passes to get in, right? They’re very secure. So, once you’ve logged in the device… in an emergency, you shouldn’t be having to type additional passwords and stuff like that. The system is confidential, but not anonymous. You can’t print it. So, when time is of an essence, you gotta find the right balance between security and time limits to be able to communicate.

[TODD] I know one of the questions that come up through our time here is… specifically is, it is an app. So, there is that idea that you have to encourage people to download the app. That’s one half of it. But the other half of it too, is you can still, in the system, upload people’s phone numbers and e-mails, and what not, and still communicate that way. Is that correct? And I seeing that correctly?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Yes, that’s very correct. So, what we do is, with the app, the app has two different log in screens. One is for administrators with certain basic mobile command center, and for that, is always great for the administrators to all have the system. If you walk away from that functionality, and just look at the typical end user, the end user does nothing. And that’s ok, we need to know where they’re at, and they’ll get e-mails and text messages with that same performance that our system has. But if they download the app, that you’ve got an even more heightened level of performance, being able to initiate alerts themselves to the administrators. So, they’re not stuck only in the broadcast notification, or population status where the administrators will try to find out where the people are, are they safe, and things like that. In fact, they can even do additional things, like have: walk me home. If you have the app, that will allow you, using various different algorithms we have, to make sure that you’re getting back safe to your car or your house, or make sure you get from your home to school, and then back home safely as well too. So, we push everyone where they’re at, no one has to do anything to get into the system, but if they install the app, and we find a lot of people do, then it adds even additional safety for those users.

[TODD] Yeah, that’s really kind of a cool feature too. Specially on campus features, where the “walk me to my car” feature is really critical to… you know. I wanna circle back at something here really quick. I know you mentioned in the beginning of our interview, but there is a feature that you have with the “safe” click and the “I need help” click, right? For the app user. Kind of explain… I hate to say it this way, but I always think of the “safe” click just to kind of get people an idea, is that when there is an event going on, and people are checking in via Facebook if they’re safe, sometimes that’s nice. So, this safe click is sort of like that. So, explain the safe click and the “I need help” click on your app.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Sure. So, basically, what you can do, is during an emergency… of course, at any time, you can always trigger an emergency alert with the administrators. The other thing though that you’re leading to, is a population safety status clearance. And basically, what you’re able to do that, is administrators, with one click, are able to send out a request to their entire organizational unit, asking where people are, and if they’re safe or not. Users then, via either text message, or via the app, can respond if they’re safe or not on campus, or not on campus, and share their location. This way, the emergency responders and administrators are able to see in real time a map of blue and red dots, where their users are, to be able to determine where people are safe and where they’re not. Furthermore, because of the two-way functionality of our system, administrators can click on any of those users and initiate two-way text communication, as well as group or individual audio call. And, when the first responder gets to that site, and they wanna get to the people who are in trouble as the red areas, they can either see them on the map, or they can flip up their device, and use augmented reality, scan the entire campus and sites, and be directed to wherever they need to go to respond for help.

[TODD] That right there in itself is a really powerful tool, especially for those of us who are in the safety world. I know I had one question from when we discussed it before amongst ourselves, and one of the guys, from a city, and he said: does this… can this program work well for cities? I can understand with campuses and school systems, but how would you use it with a county-wide or city-wide? How would that work? How do you see that?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] That’s a great question. Some of our largest clients are actually government institutions, like cities and NGOs. So, the way we deploy it, whether it’s a school or business, you can do it one of two ways: the first way is if that site already has a database of the users, then we can interfere directly with that database. So, users can log in with the same credential they use anywhere else. And if the site doesn’t have a database, then we can just upload them via Excel file or individual modules. Once they’re in, the way that a lot of cities do this, is you’ve got a city-wide umbrella, and that way, anyone from the administrator or law enforcement can send out a lockdown to, for example, city hall. But they also usually break down to sub sectors as well too. For example, public work. Or, the people who are going out and doing home inspections or construction. Then, you might have the people who are going out and doing parking enforcement. So, you can have that too. And not if someone falls in a house they’re inspecting, or threatened when they’re doing the meters, then they can hit that emergency information alert, and supervisors will know where to go, what to do, if there’s an injury, they can go out there, everything is documented, everything is geo-located with the GPS. So, you’ve got all of that going there, as well as still empowering the city administrators, if for example, if it starts raining and there’s a flood coming or an earthquake, they can send a broadcast for some people to come back to city hall, and pull that population status survey to see where people are in city hall, and as well as outside of city hall. And that way, be able to determine where to send help. The other functionality we’ve got too, for the cities, which is also in use for the schools, is basically the ability to have emergency documentation in videos in the system itself. That way, if there’s an earthquake, if there’s a sexual assault, if there’s an injury while out in the field, you can pull out from the mobile device, specifically trained evacuation maps, training protocols, emergency protocols, videos on how to do CPR, etc., and have that amount of information in the palm of your hand for everyone.

[TODD] That’s great stuff. Ok so, I know our people out here love to hear success stories, and I know you have a couple of them that you talk about. So, can you share with me a couple of your success stories, and how your programs actually saved lives already?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Sure. So, we’ve had a few really, really exciting ones. You know, on a day-to-day basis, we always talk about the large-scale scenarios, but some of them are touching ones, to us and the company, to have the individual ones, the individual-related help. One of them, was a student at a site, and the student was troubled and drank all the chemical at the site that she shouldn’t have drank. And the teacher, normally the teacher would have to call the front office, front office calls police, police comes to the front office, goes to the classroom, and we were told that the average response time for something was 10-14 minutes. With our system, the teacher pressed a button that was integrated to dispatch, the principal came over, took over the classroom, dispatch called the teacher to ask what the chemical was, the response time was down to seconds, with help arriving within a couple of minutes. And they were able to go directly to where the GPS pinpoint was. And we were told that day that student ended up spending a couple of days in ICU. So, that was the story that was really quite touching to us. A couple of other stories that we have too, is we had large scale power outages, where other systems weren’t able to connect, and because of the redundancy of our system, they were able to send out emergency notifications to all the users. And by doing that, they were able to prevent a chaotic situation before it even escalated. So, these are a couple of the most recent examples of the use of the system that… it’s just kind of… you never know where an emergency is gonna be, and the flexibility of the system.

[TODD] That’s always nice to hear, you know, those success stories like that, it kinda really brings home to me, that what we’re here to do, and we are here to try to save lives and keep everybody safe, and a tool like this to be able to do that, that’s really important. All right, so… a couple more questions left up here. This last one… not the last one, but this one here, I’d like to talk to you about is… I want you to give me your quick elevator speech, the plug for your company, why should we use Titan HST?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] So, here’s our deal with Titan HST. We believe that every user should be empowered by having immediately accessible two-ways communication. So, Titan HST empowers every user with two ways communication via text, picture, audio, video, augmented reality, while also maintaining privacy, centric and secure environments. Therefore, we want everyone to be able to do whatever they’re doing without any worries, but when they need help, know that with one click help can be on its way.

[TODD] That’s great. Ok, so, in the military world, we have this thing called task and purpose. We know what out tasks are, we know what the purpose of our mission is. What is the task and purpose of Titan HST?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] The task is to enable that emergency two-way communication in an emergency; find where your people are, know what you’re getting into, and send help accordingly. Stabilize the situation, reduce emergency response times. The purpose is to prevent loss of life, prevent loss of property, and to minimize, if not eliminate, the dangers that are posed to people.

[TODD] Outstanding. All right, so this is gonna be the toughest question of this interview. So, if you had to, what are the top 2 books that you give our and recommend to people in your circle?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] That’s a great question. And my answer to that will be as non-traditional as our technology is in Titan. My favorite things to read, I’m an avid reader, my favorite things to read, and that I always advise other students, is Harvard Business Review. I think it’s a great tool, because you always have different authors writing different articles, all across various industries, various sectors, and I think the amount of information that comes from that really gets the wheels cranking in anyone’s mind, opens up your imagination, and gives you so much information from various case studies, people’s experiences, the wins, the losses, trends, ideas, I highly recommend it. It’s my favorite source of information. So, business, technology, and just general information about where things are going.

[TODD] That is a great recommendation. I remember when I was going to grad school, and we had to read Harvard Business Review stuff, and you’re absolutely right. It always gives…

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Isn’t it great?

[TODD] It is great. It is great. You know what? I’ll put that on my list of must reads…

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Let me know when I get my commission fee from HBR.

[TODD] I will for sure! That’s… you know, you’re absolutely right, there’s so much good information in there. And people get turned off at times because of Business Review, but it’s really… it talks about the public sector, the private sector…

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Exactly!

[TODD] Things that are going in the government, trends in technology… it is a really good…

[VIC @ TITAN HST] It’s about life, and in this day and age, when we’re all so busy, you know… those articles are just a few pages, so who doesn’t have time to read for three or four minutes at a time, you know? And if you wanna read for hours, you can, but three or four minutes at a time, and you’ll get three or four articles.

[TODD] Yeah, that’s for sure. And I always time it too, so that’s great.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Absolutely.

[TODD] Well, we’re coming close to the end here, is there anything else that you would like to part with our listeners?

[VIC @ TITAN HST] I just wanna thank everyone for their time, we wanna thank you so much for having us on your show. We’re excited to be here, and we just… we really believe in the importance of emergency communication in this day and age, and you know, as the owner of Titan, I obviously believe that we have the best product, but whatever product we go with, make sure your site has an emergency plan, make sure you’ve got an emergency communication system. Emergencies can happen, but having something to basically have a plan, and a communication system, can make all the difference between what can be an annoying incident vs. what can be a catastrophe.

[TODD] Once again, thanks for being here, thank you for your time today, and… man, this is really good.

[VIC @ TITAN HST] Thank you for having us.

[PRESENTER] Well, that’s a wrap for episode 3. Be sure to tune in next week, while Todd DeVoe has a conversation with the author of The Brushfire Plague series. And please, visit our website, at www.emweekly.com, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, stay informed, check out the blog and we look forward to next week. Thanks again for listening.

Links:
https://www.titanhst.com

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