Assets, People, and Pets
Chris Newton, CEO, Securus, Inc.

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CHRIS NEWTON
As President/CEO, Chris leads the Securus team in creating the vision and execution plans to ensure that Securus’ products and services become the leader in their markets. Prior to Securus, Chris led venture-backed Intervolve, Inc. as Chairman/CEO through six years of high growth in the Web and mobile (wireless) supply chain industry.


astrickBACKGROUND Securus, Inc. (www.securusgps.com) is a mobile safety and security products and services company that is taking machine-to-machine (M2M) hardware and software solutions to a new level. They have built an M2M software platform that enables a user to track any asset, person, or pet. The convergence of more efficient hardware, improved mobile connectivity, and other sensor technology innovations are redefining the possibilities and a ordability of the location tracking market. We spoke with Chris Newton, President and CEO of Securus, Inc., about the market drivers for assets, people, and pet tracking.

Summary
In this interview, Chris Newton discusses the technology and market drivers defining the personal tracking market.


FIGURE 1. This illustrates the tracking app being used by a woman from her desktop. Graphic courtesy of Securus, Inc.
FIGURE 1. This illustrates the tracking app being used by a woman from her desktop. Graphic courtesy of Securus, Inc.

LBX  Tell us about Securus and your market focus.

NEWTON We started in 2008 as a GPS provider with products that allowed pet owners to track lost animals. We developed a partnership with the American Kennel Club’s animal recovery unit, AKC CAR, which would then help pet owners find their lost pets. We are still in the business of tracking pets, but we have evolved considerably since then. In February 2011, we acquired Zoombak and have been focused on extending our M2M platform to address more safety and security needs for individuals as well as businesses.

We provide both the tracking device and the software to monitor the missing item. We provide people with peace of mind by letting them keep tabs on their assets, loved ones, and pets. For companies, we provide loss prevention and risk mitigation tools that directly impact their bottom line and, in the case of personal safety situations like campus security operations, help protect their brand and reputation.

LBX How does Securus work?

NEWTON  There are many ways that customers can use our products and services. We offer eZoom, a light, durable multi-use GPS tracker that can help users locate children, keep tabs on teen drivers and recover stolen items. The device can be placed in a laptop bag or child’s backpack or installed in vehicles, providing 24/7 tracking capabilities online or via smartphone to find the unit’s exact location. eZoom also allows parents to receive instant notifications when teen drivers arrive at their destination as well as alerts when teens exceed a preset speed limit. eZoom enables users to protect parked vehicles by remotely arming a car with a motion detector and anti-theft alert; users can track the exact location of stolen vehicles for quick recovery, a feature that may entitle users to valuable vehicle insurance discounts.

Our eCare+Voice puts instant assistance at the ngertips of seniors and others with medical conditions or special needs. With eCare+Voice, users can reach the Securus Emergency Care Center with an SOS button, enabling two-way communication via the unit’s microphone and speaker. The unit provides location tracking and communication capabilities anywhere in the U.S. without requiring a landline or base station connection. It’s the only phone/ GPS locator with the option for wireless inductive charging.

LBX Who are your customers?

NEWTON We have two types of customers—consumers and businesses. Our consumer customers include parents, seniors and their caretakers, and pet owners. See Figure 1 for how easy it is for someone to track their loved one from their desktop. Parents like to keep track of their kids, and our devices can help them in a variety of ways. For example, the device will text parents of young children when the school bus leaves, track the bus by the speed it is going and send another message indicating that the child arrived safely at school.

Our business customers include retailers, fleet management companies, and college campuses. Retail customers use our services to monitor and mitigate theft. We’re piloting a new college safety product that targets universities.

LBX  Who is the buyer of your business offerings?

NEWTON Generally the buyer is the person responsible for retail loss prevention, and for fleet safety and tracking. Cargo diversion is a big issue in any sort of logistics and delivery management service. Companies need to be able to track their trucks to know if they divert cargo. See Figure 2, which illustrates the level of detail at which a truck can be tracked.


FIGURE 2. In this example, the delivery truck left the warehouse and traveled along its designated route. Every 30 seconds, the truck’s location appeared on the tracking dashboard map. The numbers on each red location point let the viewer know which direction the truck headed. When the red location points are clicked, the address and GPS coordinates of the truck appear, along with a timestamp. The truck reached its destination successfully. Graphic courtesy of Securus, Inc.
FIGURE 2. In this example, the delivery truck left the warehouse and traveled along its designated route. Every 30 seconds, the truck’s location appeared on the tracking dashboard map. The numbers on each red location point let the viewer know which direction the truck headed. When the red location points are clicked, the address and GPS coordinates of the truck appear, along with a timestamp. The truck reached its destination successfully. Graphic courtesy of Securus, Inc.

LBX What are some important technology features that impact operational costs?

NEWTON We have a motion sensor imbedded in our device that allows the device to go to sleep. This allows for longer battery life (up to three weeks) while still keeping the locator compact.


Fig-4_eCare2

  

SECURUS DEVICES:

(left) eCare+Voice device. Graphic courtesy of Securus, Inc.

(right) eZoom device. Graphic courtesy of Securus, Inc.


LBX What are some of the benefits companies are receiving from this real-time asset tracking?

NEWTON Our loss prevention program recovered lost products valued at more than a million dollars. For companies, loss prevention directly affects their bottom line. For individuals, the value is in peace of mind.

LBX  Tell us more about the college safety product that you are currently piloting.

NEWTON  Unfortunately, statistics show that one in five women who go to college will experience rape or assault. Our product and service gives women a silent alert device that they can place in a purse or pocket that can accurately track the person both indoors and outdoors. The service is tied into campus security. If the person presses the button on the device indicating concern for her safety, information about the student is immediately forwarded to campus security, including the student’s photo and profile. If the student does not pick up her cell phone or if she answers but doesn’t provide the right security code, campus security knows it is an emergency and initiates a response.

LBX What are the costs involved in utilizing your products and services?

NEWTON  Devices retail at $99. The monitoring service varies. For seniors, it starts at $30 per month and goes down to $22, depending on their needs. The general tracker is $20 per month and can go down to $12.99.

LBX Tracking, and personal tracking in particular, raises privacy issues. How do you address privacy?

NEWTON We give the consumer the option to delete their own historical location information, giving them the peace of mind of knowing that they have control over their data.

LBX You have built an M2M platform to support your products and services. Tell us more about how it works and why it is so important.

NEWTON Our platform can enable virtually unlimited types of sensors and devices. It will grab the pertinent information from the devices and send it through a wireless network to our server. Our server can then talk to other servers, laptops, feature phones and/or smartphones. Having a system that works with other sensors and devices—not just Securus devices—augments the use and broadens the scope of M2M applications. Application features are only limited by the imagination of the consumer or business.

LBX What do you see as the future of asset, people, and pet tracking?

NEWTON Smaller, faster and cheaper! I believe that M2M is only in its infancy. As technology gets smaller, cheaper and faster, most things will have sensors on them, and there will be M2M safety devices for people throughout their lives.