IoT has been fundamental to everything that we do. It’s not just an additional slice of the service – it’s our whole company. We wouldn’t be in business if we hadn’t moved to the managed services business model.
Visibility and automation help SST offer better service, save money and scale
SST, Inc., the makers of ShotSpotter Flex, provides cloud-based gunfire detection and location technology solutions. The subscription-based service instantly notifies law enforcement of any gun crimes in progress. By switching from premise-based infrastructure to the Internet of Things and offering their solution as a hosted service, SST was able to lower the cost of ownership for the customers while increasing the value they deliver.
IoT has allowed SST to take the complexity of owning infrastructure from the customers, and the Cisco Jasper platform helps them deploy, manage and maintain the entire sensor network across hundreds of customers and thousands of endpoints, ensuring service reliability and saving costs.
SST uses IoT to help law enforcement save lives and build safer communities
Unreported urban gun violence poses a serious threat to the safety of neighborhoods and entire communities. By the time the police receive a 911 emergency call, they’ve already lost precious time — time that could be used to locate the crime scene, secure evidence and save lives. When responding to gun violence, intelligence is everything, and having access to the most precise, detailed and timely data helps law enforcement in the fight against illegal gun crime.
SST, Inc., the makers of ShotSpotter FlexTM, is the global leader in providing gunfire detection and location technology solutions. The subscription-based service instantly notifies law enforcement agencies of any gun crimes in progress, delivering up-to-the-minute intelligence— including location of shooting, number of shots fired, number of shooters, as well as audio snippets of confirmed gun fire—to dispatch centers, police cars and even smart phones.
“What we do is mission critical,” explains Ralph Clark, President and CEO of SST. “It’s about protecting lives. Guns are fired much more frequently than people realize, and we’re shedding light on the real truth about the gun violence epidemic in this country. We’re enabling officers to be at the scene in just seconds, so the reliability and precision of ShotSpotter is everything. We’re dealing with lifesaving issues.”
The Internet of Things (IoT) is at the heart of the ShotSpotter cloud-based service: all gunshot-detecting sensors are connected to the Internet, and SST manages a network of thousands of connected devices around the world.
“The Internet of Things has enabled a very strategic business model pivot,” says Clark. “We used to offer our technology as a premises-based CapEx software license, which was very expensive for our agency customers to buy, manage and maintain. By switching to the Internet of Things and offering our solution as a hosted service, we were able to lower the cost of ownership for the customer while increasing the value we deliver.”
“IoT has been very strategic for us. It’s fundamental to everything that we’re doing. It’s not just an additional slice of service. It’s our whole company. We wouldn’t be in business if we hadn’t moved to the managed services business model.”
Today, rather than the customer owning the sensors, SST deploys, manages and maintains the entire sensor network.
“We took the complexity of owning and managing infrastructure from our customers and consolidated it within our company. But now we’re dealing with hundreds of customers and thousands of endpoints, and none of this would be possible without the Cisco Jasper platform,” explains Clark.
Before the company implemented Control Center in early 2013, all networked sensors were managed manually.
“Life before the Cisco Jasper platform was much more difficult,” said Joe Hawkins, Senior Vice President of Operations at SST. “We maintained spreadsheets of all of our devices. We had to connect to each one individually with no unified view of what our network looked like.”
Hawkins said that before Control Center, unless customers reported problems, SST had no visibility into whether sensors in the field were working correctly. Managing data plans and controlling how much SST was spending on data over different carrier networks presented additional challenges.
“We were pretty much blind to it,” says Hawkins. “With Control Center, we now have the ability to monitor our data usage in real time and even get automatic alerts when we’re approaching the caps of our data plans, so we can make sure we’re maximizing the plans we have and not incurring cost overruns by exceeding data usage thresholds.”
When public safety is on the line, the ability to quickly diagnose device issues becomes a priority.
“Precision and accuracy are everything to us,” explains Clark. “We notify law enforcement of active shooter scenarios and send those officers into situations where people have little regard for human life. We’re dealing with thousands of endpoints that are performing a very valuable service on behalf of our public safety customers. These sensors have to be up and running 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Control Center’s real-time alerts help SST understand exactly why devices aren’t responding and take timely measures to address the problem.
“Many times it has nothing to do with the network,” comments Hawkins. “Perhaps it’s a localized power outage in a building where devices are installed. Control Center gives us an alert, telling us we lost communication with certain devices. We can quickly roll a truck and restore service before customers are affected.”
As SST’s business grows, the company uses Control Center to deploy new endpoint devices, change service plans, and even expand into new markets such as education and critical infrastructure.
“Using the Cisco Jasper platform has certainly allowed us to expand our footprint as we bring up new devices and services across the country. Cisco Jasper makes it very easy to bring devices online, to tell what state they’re in and to make sure our network is healthy,” adds Hawkins.
He also comments on how simple it’s been to integrate Cisco Jasper into the company’s processes: “When we first started rolling out in February of 2013, Control Center was very intuitive and user-friendly. It was very easy to integrate right into our operations. Cisco Jasper is a terrific partner in helping us grow our expanding network.”
“Control Center has really been very critical for us in having dollars flow directly to the bottom line,” concludes Clark. “We’re providing a much higher level, quality service at a reduced cost. It doesn’t get any better than that.”