A quiet, isolated lighthouse on the northern edge of Dublin Bay might seem a world away from the threats of terrorism, industrial accidents, and severe weather, but it is here that one Irish tech company is transforming how emergency service providers face these risks and saves lives.
D4H Technologies has created a suite of market-leading software solutions which enhance the readiness, response and re-evaluation capabilities of a large roster of global clients and support over 70,000 users worldwide.
Police departments and SWAT teams, fire departments, coast guards, hazmat teams, bomb squads, search and rescue teams, medical response teams, energy providers, transport companies, crisis communications teams in large corporations – D4H provides them and many more with the technology to better prevent, manage, prepare for, and analyse incidents.
Translating a passion for public safety into successful business
Founder Robin Blandford chose the 200-year-old Baily Lighthouse as D4H’s base because it serves as an everyday reminder of his company’s passion for public safety. He has been an Irish Coast Guard for more than 10 years at nearby Howth station. D4H evolved from a database that he developed for that station to look for patterns and trends in local incidents.
“Slowly that transitioned into becoming a useful tool for managing the unit itself until I eventually gave up my regular job to focus on the software fulltime,” he says.
Robin was just 24 when he quit his role in technology management to start D4H in 2008 with funding from Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency. However, he actively hires people who are engaged in the emergency services.
“Nearly all of our staff would have some sort of role in the emergency response services – on search and rescue teams and emergency management. It is a factor that we look for when we’re hiring. It gives them a passion for our market. I use our product with the Coast Guard and it gives me a very good understanding of the user and what they need.”
D4H offers emergency teams a suite of four specialised software solutions to manage personnel, equipment, incident management and incident reporting.
Rapidly changing public safety market
Robin says, “The Public Safety market is changing rapidly. The availability of chemicals, the availability of drones, the availability of information to make bombs; these threats are getting more and more advanced and complex – they are not basic threats any more.
“Dealing with these threats requires specialised teams with specialised equipment and specialised training, and that’s exactly who we serve.
“Our software helps track the training, qualifications and availability of personnel and the equipment they use. We have an incident management product which enables an effective response management to any type of emergency, and an incident reporting tool which lets teams analyze, re-evaluate their performance and prove their value. That feeds back into the readiness, so it’s a cycle between our products.”
Contracts based on trust
Public safety is a risk adverse industry by nature and D4H operates in a very niche market. Contracts are secured on the back of relationships and a sense of trust that is developed over time. Most customers initially opt for just one of D4H’s software solutions before graduating to the others. Growth has been steady throughout the company’s 10 years in business.
Robin says, “About 80% of our customers are in North America. We supply police, fire, SWAT, chemical response teams, bomb squads, disaster response, medical response, search and rescue teams, and others throughout Canada and east coast United States. We’ve done the Boston Marathon for the last two years, assisted with software for that.
“We’re also working with a number of cities on the west coast. A lot of the firefighters tackling wildfires there recently would be tracked using our system with regards to training and their equipment readiness.”
“Another growth area is corporate organisations. These events hurt them, they shutdown offices and affect their sales. This year we’ve seen a massive uptake in very large companies contacting us and asking us what public safety are doing and how can we replicate this.”
How D4H maintains their technology advantage
D4H has a significant technology advantage that the company works work hard to maintain.
Robin says, “Fifty percent of our staff are engineering and we’re still small and flexible enough to be tracking what’s going on. Our competitors are quite old school and we’re innovating a lot faster than them.
“Each individual product does have a competitor but there’s no one else who does the full suite of software products that we do. Each piece of software supports you individually but the data also talks across the suite and that is a massive benefit and selling point.”
The fact that D4H is a company with a passion for its product is also not lost on its customers.
“Our base in the lighthouse is very much a symbol for us. Our customers love visiting us in it if they’re in Ireland on holiday – it’s their first stop from the airport – and while we’ll need room to expand, we’ll also try to retain an office here.”