Data intelligence for better public safety

GABRIELA BARRANTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jon Gosier's North Philly firm, D8A Group, wants to help public agencies perform jobs smarter and fix problems in real time.

JON GOSIER, 32, of Chinatown, is founder and CEO of D8A Group, a North Philly firm that seeks to identify patterns to help public-safety officials make better decisions. The company uses maps, social-media streams, news feeds and demographic data.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for D8A?

A: I looked at how organizations handle all this new data. You need highly trained professionals to analyze it or expensive software to do it. The idea is to simplify the process.

Q: You were a DreamIt Ventures company.

A: We were part of the fall 2012 [accelerator] class. We had a few customers and revenue. We actually launched in October 2011 and had the usual funding issues. We want to become more of an investable company.

Q: What does D8A do?

A: Back in the day, you used to have police patrolling neighborhoods to make sure everything was safe. What you have now is people congregating in different spaces and many are online. We collect information, spot behavior patterns and translate it into actionable intelligence.

Q: What's the value proposition?

A: Cities react to events. Something happens, you hear about it, you address the problem. We help them be proactive, anticipate problems and set up strategies for dealing with them in real time.

Q: The biz model?

A: The cost is about $400 per person, per month, per year. Most clients fall in the $50,000 annual range.

Q: Who are clients?

A: The customers we want to attract are public-safety organizations. We're doing that in conjunction with FastFWD, which is a public/private accelerator here to stimulate civic innovation. Some existing customers include the Wounded Warriors Project, the U.S. Army, Thomson Reuters and Internews.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: We're four people. Our revenue in 2013 was about $400,000, and we're anticipating $600,000 this year.

Q: With whom do you compete, and what differentiates you?

A: We look at Palantir [a Silicon Valley-based big-data intelligence firm]. Their software is more complicated and expensive. We focus on the nontechnical person in the public sector. The biggest constraint that public-service agencies have is shrinking budgets. On a shrinking budget, you can't buy expensive software and you usually can't train your existing staff.

Q: Where's the biz headed?

A: We want to consolidate all our staff here and raise $1.5 million to take us to the next level. If all this goes well, we'll be a very different company at the end of 2014.

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