5 Minutes with a Founder: Peter Woodford on public safety’s biggest challenge

The 5 Minutes with a Founder Series is a collection of short inspiring interviews with the people behind

the technology created to tackle big public problems.


Are you aware that when you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone, they likely don't know your location? While this is no surprise to those working in public safety, almost everyone I tell this to is alarmed by this revelation. I certainly was when I started working in the industry.


While our modern-day devices can send photos, video, and real-time location data, the 9-1-1 system wasn't designed to process that data and deliver it in a form that 9-1-1 professionals can use.


The digital divide between callers and 9-1-1 centers can have devastating consequences for the more than 240 million people that dial 9-1-1 each year. Without access to 21st century telecommunications services like the tech we will talk about in this series, emergency response professionals can lose out on vital information that will help them respond quickly and effectively to an emergency.


In today's article, I would like to introduce the founder behind ELi Technology, a location technology company dedicated to addressing inaccurate location inside multi-story buildings.


Peter Woodford is the CEO and founder of ELi Technology, a SaaS location technology company with a main office in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and subsidiary office in Stockholm, Sweden.


The ELi team has solid and extensive experience in technology, digital communications, media, telecommunications, R&D, commercialization, account management, large-scale technology implementation, corporate finance, strategic planning, and execution for high-growth companies.


Brandi Holder: Thank you so much for sharing more about your company! So, briefly, what does your company do?


Peter Woodford: It’s asked in the US 240,000,000 times each year: “Where is your emergency?”


Accurate emergency mobile location data is Public Safety’s biggest challenge. ELi Technology is dedicated to resolving ongoing concerns surrounding inaccurate location information. In 2018 we patented and developed “Emergency Mobile Location” (EML), the world’s first and only location methodology that provides dispatchable address, with usable indoor and vertical location information for both E9-1-1 and NG9-1-1.


BH: Location is a serious problem in public safety. Which leads right into our next question, why did you create your business?


PW: I’ve been immersed in the emergency number industry for over 17 years; my background is in telecommunications, financial networks, and digital communications. I became aware very quickly of the huge concern around inaccurate mobile location information and the need to solve it.

When you step inside a multi-story building, you’re effectively invisible…even now. And it’s a global problem, with thousands of lives being lost annually because mobile callers aren’t located fast enough or even at all.


There are some fundamentals to life every human has the right to…and a solid standard of public safety is one of them. If I can contribute to solving one of our industry’s biggest challenges, and give Responders a tool they desperately need, it will create a better future for everyone. And who doesn’t want that? Plus, location accuracy is fundamental to our Next Generation 9-1-1, so this isn’t going away anytime soon.


Our tagline also says, helping YOU (the first responders, including ECC) save lives.


BH: I think so much of the public is unaware of this problem. I am thankful for the smart, persistent people like you who are working behind the scenes on solutions to fix this problem. I think it’s fairly obvious what makes you passionate about what you do, but please tell us more about what you love about your work.


PW: This industry is full of people wanting to help make a difference in others’ lives, and our company has the opportunity to provide them with better tools, making their jobs less stressful and more efficient.


Emergency calling centers are chronically understaffed, underfunded, and many are at a breaking point. Responders are some of the most heroic people I know of, yet they face daily challenges that most of us cannot even comprehend. If they knew exactly where someone was calling from during an emergency event, that could shave 30-90 seconds off each call time (and that’s hugely impactful to outcomes) which in turn would help alleviate some of the challenges they face.


BH: A truly inspiring mission! I love to share insights from CEOs and founders with emerging leaders. Can you share something that’s contributed to your success, that you wish you knew earlier?


PW: There's no “I” in Team. One of our company mantras is “It doesn’t matter who is right, only that WE do the right thing.” Teamwork is the key for us.


Communication. We strive to be “ELi Evangelists”, telling our story to people we meet every day. This helps create some amazing connections and results. The more people see and understand the life-saving benefits of improved location for 9-1-1 the more positivity and momentum we experience and the closer we get to making the world a safer place. You never know who you may talk to, and it can have a hugely positive impact.


BH: Thank you, Peter, I have enjoyed learning more about you and your company.


If you would like to learn more about ELi and its mission, visit them here.

 

A special note about public safety: Now more than ever, 9-1-1 needs an upgrade from failing 1960s technology. Locating someone who has an emergency is becoming increasingly complicated.


Consumer technology will continue to evolve, and the general public will continue to assume 9-1-1 is keeping up. In an emergency, seconds matter. Your emergency responders deserve to have tools to make communication easier for you and the communities they serve.


I want to remind you that you have the right to push your elected officials to invest in better 9-1-1 technology.


If you would like additional information about the problems our public safety professionals are facing, or ways to talk to your representatives about improving 9-1-1, please let me know. It would be my pleasure to assist!


 

I’m a brand consultant and writer pulling together a series of interviews with CEOs and founders serving public safety and housing. If you would like to share your story, please contact me. I love making connections!


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