Dec. 13, 2011 11:00 am

Drakontas: Drexel University spinoff to launch collaborative, public safety DragonForce update

If you were a software engineer with Drakontas, the tactical, collaborative communications shop with offices in Glenside and Camden, you would be a licensed firearm owner. It’s part of the job — and they’re looking to hire someone else now. When building tools for high-pressure units like SWAT teams, it’s of particular use for developers […]

If you were a software engineer with Drakontas, the tactical, collaborative communications shop with offices in Glenside and Camden, you would be a licensed firearm owner. It’s part of the job — and they’re looking to hire someone else now.

When building tools for high-pressure units like SWAT teams, it’s of particular use for developers to know how the customer will be using each product, says Drakontas co-founder and COO James Sim.

“The software engineering team embeds with tactical teams for trials. We put on our pants and goggles and go out into the field,” he said. “Our people have been partnered with a sniper in the mud and freezing cold, getting shot at in simulations with flash bangs and tear gas. It’s a different kind of software engineering experience.”

Following military space research from Drexel University professors Moshe Kam and William Regli and other researchers, Drakontas was founded in 2004 by Sim and Regli’s brother and company CEO Brian.

With nine full time employees, the company is working to roll out in Q3 2012 the latest full version of its DragonForce team collaboration software, built for small tactical groups like SWAT or hazardous waste response or others in security, law enforcement or disaster management, said CTO Alan Kaplan.


Above, watch a video demo of a Drakontas-made social mobile app for collaboration.

A key enhancement of the next DragonForce version is its flexibility to create groups that can share some projects and hide others. Put in action, think of Drakontas customer the York County government. Police, fire and ambulance leaders could visit the web application via a shared VPN to create and share tools and information assets. During a large event (hurricane, snow storm or terrorist attack), team leaders could be coordinating escape routes or location planning on blueprints or maps, allowing all disaster teams to be directed smartly and in a coordinated effort. During smaller events, police units could keep their materials private from other agencies.

“This is one way to solve the interoperability problem that governments and their first responders so often have,” said Sim. “This is one software package that otherwise can function autonomously, but can be used to inter-operate across users.”

The company will also roll out two native applications, one for Windows Mobile — which Kaplan says tends to be used on devices popular with disaster management leaders because of their ruggedness and battery life — and later another for Android devices, though iOS apps may follow as iPhones and iPads reach the enterprise, he adds. Some large partnerships could be named next year as well, Kaplan said.

When asked about differentiation in the competitive security communications space, which is dominated by big players, Sim is firm: “We make it a point to know what the client needs to be able to do. This is a group of individuals that if they make a mistake, someone can get killed. Software doesn’t get much more serious than that.”

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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