As government agencies increasingly rely on mass notification systems to alert the public to emergencies such as missile threats and national disasters, one Netanya-based start-up has found its niche on the seam between the homeland security and telecom industries.
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"In 2008 we identified a growing need of governments and federal and municipal institutions to alert and inform citizens in emergency situations such as missile attacks, natural disasters, hazardous leaks and so on," said Guy Weiss, the CEO of eVigilo, whose name in Latin means "Be alert."
"Governments usually have limited means at their disposal and rely on sirens. We came with a lot of experience in high-tech and a background in the field of messaging, but we realized that there's something lacking," Weiss explained. "We thought about how to translate our knowledge into solutions that countries would be interested in. Our goal was to achieve geographical precision and send notifications through all the channels citizens are actually exposed to: billboards, beepers, cellular phones, television, Internet, etc."
Perhaps most familiar to Israelis is eVigilo's "Personal Message" project, which sends notifications to cell phones about missile landings and other threats. Now, together with the Home Front Command, the company is about to implement a far larger system called "National Message," which has an overall budget of NIS 400 million.
"The 'National Message' project can provide citizens with the fastest possible location-based, multi-channel message," says Weiss. "We've discovered that on cell phones, the 'Cell Broadcast' system is the most suitable because it is both location-based and won't get overloaded. Any expert will tell you that in an emergency, the regular text-messaging system will collapse. For television, we offer a system that can reach the individual converter of the multi-channel television customer."
"We're also developing notification apps for smartphones and a computer program," Weiss says. "In some cases we buy the technology and integrate it, and in others we develop it on our own. Most of the 'brains' is in the control and monitoring system, which is capable of receiving thousands of risk notifications at once and disseminating millions of alerts. We also have a number of patents for it."
The system has been purchased by the Israel Defense Forces and the Chilean Interior Ministry. The European Union purchased a tsunami warning system from eVigilo.
"We also have an urban service called 'City Alert' that was acquired by the Acre, Tiberias and Haifa municipalities," says Weiss. "We're a technology firm, we employ mainly engineers, and therefore we prefer not to work with customers and not to be in front, so we usually work with an integration company."
The company has 20 employees and to date has raised $4 million from the British Consensus Business Group belonging to Vincent Tchenguiz, Plus Ventures, the angel Shmuel Mendezitzky, and the American firm AtHoc, which deals with alerts for the federal government.
Its board of directors includes Maj. Gen. (res.) Ami Shafran, the former head of the IDF Teleprocessing Branch, and Maj. Gen. (res.) Itzhak (Jerry) Gershon, the former head of Israel's Home Front Command.