The following is the transcript of a recently recorded and aired podcast. Robert talks to host Cecilia Schoenbaum about how the First Responder Technologies products were born, the applications and also how privacy by design has been a core philosophy of the company since day one, in increasing public safety.
You can also listen to the podcast directly. It is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast and Stitcher.
(RD) – Robert Delamar, CEO
(CS) – Cecilia Schoenbaum, Host
Joining us today is Robert Delamar the CEO of First Responder Technologies that trades on our OTCQB venture market under the ticker WPNNF.
First Responder Technologies is the technology development company that commercializes academic and internally developed patent pending products to assist law enforcement and the performance of their duties, and to ensure their safety and the safety of the general public Robert thanks so much for joining us today.
Thank you so much for having me.
Robert what is your background in the technology sector and how did you get involved with First Responder Technologies?
Well, it’s a bit of a story. Happy to report that it’s almost two decades now in the space – working and developing new technologies.
I actually dropped out of law school. I was a law student, first year law the University of British Columbia, here in Vancouver and my cousin was a network engineer working in Silicon Valley, at the time raising funding for a company and invited me to move down to Silicon Valley for the summer, and and it’s been a career from that point on ever since so I spent about a year and a half down there working in that company, then came back finished my law degree. Caught the bug and the minute I was called to the bar here in British Columbia in 2004, I immediately decamped and joined another tech company.
I’ve been working developing early stage products in sectors as varied as networking software, satellite hardware, social media products and otherwise so I’ve got a pretty well-rounded background and developing. So the core technology products that make up the First Responder suite of products and services.
How does your Wi-Fi based threat detection technology work and what types of public venues, businesses and industries can best utilize your technology?
So building on the answer to the previous question, there is a networking component, a hardware component and a software component. And putting those three elements together creates situational awareness for first responders, persons in authority, managers of commercial buildings and even homeowners to respond when a weapon is to detected on a premises.
So, let me back up and explain. We have built a Wi-Fi based concealed weapons detection system. The hardware component is what looks like two virtual fence posts, so they’re actual physical posts that you that you install around a premises. In those fence posts are Wi-Fi antennas and we create a Wi-Fi field through which a person wishing to gain entrance to a building or broader premises, are required to pass through. Another example in the kind of colloquial sense is think of those anti theft devices you see in retail shops to stop kids from shoplifting at a shop, right?
They sit at the entrance way, they stand up, you walk through and they beep. Our system in a similar way similar kind of posts through the Wi-Fi field is generated in between those posts we’re able to unobtrusively detect the presence of a concealed weapon and it’s that detection combined with an application on a device that receives information about the presence of a weapon and the person carrying it. It’s that combination of alert and then alert to a person in authority that allows for situational awareness. So really what you’re starting to see is the internet of things or IoT for public safety and security in a really unique and interesting way.
And so if you combined that hardware-based detection with the network-based alert on a piece of software, which is enhanced by artificial intelligence, you’re really now looking at the core building blocks of what some analysts are calling the fourth industrial revolution. Which is really this IoT and AI enabled world where computers will do a lot of the heavy lifting from a processing perspective to provide information to human beings to do their jobs better. And this is precisely the application in this case for our technology and of course.
Then to the second part of your question where can this be applied? The situational intelligence can be applied at any premises and the networking of these Wi-Fi-based detection units can be done in a way that you can cover the entrances as well as, we hope in future versions of the product in a couple years, the perimeter of a property. So you can actually create a virtual fence around the outside of a property whether that be a school, a mall, a shopping center or even a residence. When somebody passes through that virtual fence and alert is generated, that situational awareness, that information about a weapon being carried on a premise, allows that person whether it’s a connection to a local sheriff’s department, on-site security or homeowner to say: There’s a person on my premises they’re armed what am I going to do about it.
And it’s that heads up, that proactive security, we believe is a paradigm shift and the way that security of public safety and security is managed today.
So, big change It’s bleeding edge technology is allowing for this change and really is like we said the the kind of beginning of or the emergence of a kind of fourth industrial revolution on IoT and AI for public safety and security and we’re quite enthused about its prospects.
Robert, how would you respond to concerns around privacy with your technology?
(RD) Really appreciate the question. It’s obviously a question that we have thought long and hard about and we thought about that question and really took steps to address it in the earliest stages of product development. Very often these days you see privacy as an afterthought with some of the bleeding edge or newer stage technologies. They reach a certain critical mass in the marketplace and then everyone says “Oh, what are they doing with my data? Oh my goodness. What about privacy protections” and there’s a mad scramble to address those concerns. We’ve built privacy by design in as a part of our product development methodology. There’s an organization called Privacy By Design, a third-party privacy group that audits privacy in the development of new technologies. We engaged them relatively early on. We committed to and published a statement of values which is set out on our website at www.firstrespondertech.com.
There’s a link there to our statement of values. They set out in, a pretty comprehensive manner, the values of the company with respect to the detection of persons and this is key. We live in a time right now where there’s a heightened concern about civil liberties and technology can either be part of the solution or frankly can make the problem a lot worse. One of the key advantages of our Wi-Fi technology is we are really using electromagnetic field to scan for materials and so in that respect it enhances policing and the ability for police officers to engage the general public because you have a probable cause tripwire, a line by which the concealed weapons detection technology engages when somebody passes through our Wi-Fi field, and says “There’s a material on this person, the AI tells us that it’s consistent with a weapon do something about it.”
So rather than having humans, who are replete with the biases that all human beings possess, gauging in a policing context an individual and making whatever judgment that individual is going to make you have a computer instead, do what computers do best, which is look for a metal in a shape, in a way that ensures that it’s the object itself that’s being dealt with and the person, their background any conspicuous religious or cultural symbols that they possess, a skin color or otherwise. Those personal identifying factors are irrelevant to the detection of a weapon creating probable cause for a police officer or other person or in authority to respond to that person if they’re carrying a weapon.
So you can see that privacy by design which ensures that no personal identifying information is collected about that person, which only scans the person for an object and is completely unconcerned with any personal characteristics of that person. You can see how that creates a new policing and security paradigm that both respects privacy and enhances personal and civil liberties. We think that’s a balance that the public is willing to embrace frankly because of course we know the new technology always brings with it some kind of fear suspicion about the intentions of the technologists and I think it’s important to addition those issues upfront. We’ve done so, we published a statement of values by which we’re willing to be held accountable as a company for and we really think that combination will lead to a better world where people are ultimately less concerned about persons in authority using their personal information for some nefarious purpose. Our whole goal as a company is to reduce bias and increase safety at the same time. It’s a balance I think that the public is willing to embrace and frankly would want us to embrace.
So what is your competitive advantage and the global security market and how does this relate to the current public safety models and technologies?
So it’s precisely that Wi-Fi component. Wi-Fi as you know utilizes an unlicensed part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Why is that important? Because unlicensed spectrum allows for the wide deployment of our sensors and if you’ve got a wide deployment of sensors, which is a condition precedent for the development of a true Internet of things or true IoT enabled public safety and security network, then you now have the building blocks for a broad scale platform that could provide public safety and security information on a wide basis across a broad geography. So we would contrast that with other parts of the spectrum where you either have to purchase spectrum in order to run your product or in the alternative that we require specific government license for that specific use case or implementation. In some cases Wi-Fi again being utilizing unlicensed spectrum allows us to widely deploy, with a limited regulatory layer, our concealed weapons detection technology. Now, of course the wider you deploy it the more broadly that it’s used you now start to see what we call in this world a network effect. In a true sense the ability for that product to scale across the geography, so we think Wi-Fi really is the secret sauce for this product, we really think it is the killer application because it allows for that wide deployment. And then from there, of course, the goal is to really build them and respond to public safety and security threats in our home market here in North America, but beyond where terrorism is a reality in some parts of the world that just isn’t going away. You’re seeing an uptick sadly in some civil strife in response to the unprecedented times that we’re living in now and given all of this public safety chaos that’s out there we think that it’s an important time to have a new technology that can be widely deployed with limited regular regulatory footprint, that can be installed easily, that uses commercial off the shelf technology, which allows for a cheaper price point and if you put all that together, you’ve got the beginnings you can see of an outline of a new public safety and security paradigm.
Given the current social and economic challenges due to Covid-19, how is First Responder adjusting business strategy for 2020 and beyond?
I alluded to it in my previous answer the reality is if you look at sadly everything from economic dislocation, that’s resulted from Covid-19 to the increases in crime and civil disorder and otherwise we know that there is a ready market for innovation a public safety space.
What we have found is that the Covid-19 pandemic in particular has created obviously this unprecedented movement from people moving from downtown office, the downtown core of a city, to home offices and otherwise. We think that there’s a real opportunity in the residential market and we’ve recently developed an AI enabled camera that we think is going to provide the basis for residential business for First Responder Technologies in the future. What that camera does is detect the presence of a weapon that’s carried in the open on a premises, so in the event that somebody comes on to your property and they’re armed – when they take that weapon out of a bag you combine that with the concealed weapon detection capability of the Wi-Fi product you put those two components together you’ve got complete coverage of concealed and open carry weapons on a premises. And so for people that are working from home where the home becomes more the center of your day-to-day life, of course sadly, that’s where potential crime and other activities could happen and we’re adding that layer of protection for people. So Covid-19 really was the progenitor of that opportunity.
First Responder Technologies began trading on the OTCQB Venture Market in May of 2020 and is also traded on the CSE, how does cross trading on the OTCQB market enhance your investor strategy in the US?
So Canada is a small internal market First Responder Technologies is a Vancouver, British Columbia based company. Canadian capital markets given their size are less liquid than American markets and let’s be frank the American market is still the premium market in the world and the OTCQB gives us access to that market, so it really is important from the perspective of small Canadian company to seek to engage with the North American market generally, that we would be there in the same place where prospective customers are, that investment potentially can follow and that really is that core US market so gives us access to that market we’re thrilled to have that.
It’s been great talking with you Robert.
Thank you so much for having me today, really appreciate the opportunity and also thank the folks at the OTCQB for being really best in class in terms of issuer services and otherwise really appreciate all you’ve done for us today.