Tiburon: Acquisition of Positron’s 911 data applications business fits long-term strategy
The purchase last month of Positron’s data-applications business from Intrado fits Tiburon’s long-term goals of expanding the company’s reach far beyond the Tier 1 markets that the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company traditionally has served. So said Ian Archbell, Tiburon’s vice president of marketing and product development in a recent interview.
Previously, Archbell spoke of Tiburon’s desire to target the Tier 2 market — cities with populations ranging from 200,000 to 1 million — by developing a line of products that would deliver about 80% of the functionality of the company’s Tier 1 products at a Tier 2 price point. Now, he said the company is on target to deliver such products by Q3 of next year. And by integrating Positron’s data platforms with the company’s current offerings, Tiburon believes it can deliver a complete package—sold by Intrado—that will be attractive to smaller agencies that are the norm in Tier 3 markets with populations under 200,000, Archbell said.
“Many organizations in Tier 3 are not feeling loved,” he said. “They don’t feel they’re getting the support or products they need.”
That could be because Tier 3 agencies generally have limited dollars to spend compared with their Tier 1 and Tier 2 counterparts. That doesn’t bother Archbell, who now also serves the role of general manager of the newly christened Positron Front Line. “There are an awful lot more of them,” he said.
Intrado bought Positron from IPC Systems just last year, and Archbell indicated that Intrado’s decision to sell the business so soon had nothing to do with any problems with the Positron brand or its product offerings, which focus on computer-aided dispatch and records-management platforms. “Positron didn’t fit Intrado’s core competencies,” Archbell said. “But the company is highly complementary to Tiburon’s business.” He added that Intrado retained the 911-call-handling piece of Positron’s business, which he said meshes well with Intrado’s 911 system management and call-routing capabilities.
All of Positron’s platforms, including the Viper and Power product lines, would be supported for the foreseeable future, Archbell said. There are no current plans to integrate these products into Tiburon’s CommandCad platform, which recently was upgraded with new algorithms that enable the solution to automatically dispatch based on geography or vehicle type, enabling faster and more effective responses, he said. However, the Positron offerings could be integrated into Tiburon’s developing Connect platform — based on the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and designed to create a foundation for seamless information exchange via XML — by 2011, Archbell said.
Archbell said Tiburon plans to make “significant investments” in IP-based next-generation 911 technology, which will support text messaging, video and photo transmission and other potentially vital applications such as gunshot location.
“Everyone is going to move to next-gen 911,” Archbell said. “Exactly when is debatable, but it will happen in the next five years.” In this regard, the Positron acquisition also fits well strategically, as its offerings already are IP-enabled. In addition, “Positron has next-gen intellectual property and people who know that space very well.”
All of these plans won’t mean a thing if public-safety answering points don’t have the money for upgrades, a real possibility given the current state of the economy and Congress’ apparent distaste for appropriating money for such upgrades, as evidenced by its appropriation of just $43.5 million of the $1.25 billion it authorized five years ago in the Enhance 911 Act. It’s a point that Tiburon plans to act upon, Archbell said.
“Right now, the RFP process is painful, and we’re going to have to find new ways for them to pay for things,” Archbell said. “So, one day we’re going to announce that we’re doing something in a very different way.” That could include the creation of a subscription model that would enable agencies to deploy new systems, equipment and applications faster, he said.