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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 4 years ago

Emergency communications 2.0

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A company that operates 911 public safety communications systems worldwide, Cassidian Communications, sees big opportunities in Florida, especially the Gulf Coast.

A company that operates 911 public safety communications systems worldwide, Cassidian Communications, sees big opportunities in Florida, especially the Gulf Coast.

The Temecula, Calif.-based firm, a unit of Airbus Defense & Space Holdings, recently opened an office in Manatee County. Its technology and systems are now in more than 60 counties and municipalities statewide, including Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties on the Gulf Coast. The company's technology is also in nearly 70 countries.

Cassidian's push in Florida is based on a combination of factors. One, say company executives, is demographics because more people, and more elderly people, equates to a greater need for communications systems. Another aspect is the industry technology is in the early stages of a transformation.

“We see a convergence on how you get communication and information to the people who need it,” Karen Fink, a regional sales director at Cassidian, tells Coffee Talk. “We've seen more changes in the last five years than in the 30 or 40 years prior to that.”

The shift, Next Generation 911 in industry circles, involves utilizing smartphone technology, to the point where 911 callers can use texts, videos and pictures to report a distress call. Cassidian officials believe their radio and communication systems, which handle about 60% of all 911 calls in the United States, are the best option for county governments.

The largest challenge to the strategy in Florida, says Fink, is funding. Counties and municipal government officials might understand the benefits of the technology, but getting total agreement on a budget can be tricky. Fink, based out of Raleigh, N.C., spends a good deal of her time on the road, in Florida and other southeastern states, selling both the technology and Cassidian's role in the transformation.

“I'm excited to be in this industry,” Fink says. “There is a real opportunity to be part of a paradigm shift in how public safety is done.”

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