Axon says it will offer cloud-based CAD services during the second half of this year
Axon expects to complete the first live deployment of its cloud-based, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) service during the first half of this year—“displacing a major competitor” in the process—and plans to make its CAD offering generally available during the second half of this year, according to company executives.
Known primarily for its TASER weapons and body-camera solutions, Axon previously has indicated plans to enter the dispatch space. The company provided greater detail about those plan last week during the company’s quarterly earnings call, which was webcast.
“Our goal is to bring dispatch to market in 2020, and … we expect to have our first paying customer live within the first half of this year,” Axon Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jawad Ahsan said during the call. “This deployment will see Axon displacing a major competitor in the dispatch space. We expect to have a competitive dispatch product in the market and widely available by the second half [of this year].”
Axon’s CAD offering will be cloud-based, following the model that the company uses to manage digital evidence collected from its body cameras. Although cloud-based 911 solutions are becoming more accepted within the public-safety community, but the cloud-based approach is still relatively new to the sector, which has expressed concerns about the potential for lost functionality if connectivity to the cloud is lost.
Axon CEO Rick Smith acknowledged this sentiment but noted that the company has succeeded previously when faced with such perception challenges.
“We love entering new markets where the initial customer reaction is no,” Smith said during the earnings call. “When we started with electrical weapons, we heard no; when we started with the body cameras, we heard no; when we started with cloud digital-evidence software, we heard no. That tells us we have the opportunity to be first to move the market.”
Public-safety concerns about cloud-based CAD solutions center around reliability, Smith said. Cloud reliability is not an issue, because the uptime of major cloud providers is much greater than typical local jurisdictions could develop themselves, he said.
However, ensuring that a dispatch center maintains the connectivity link that ensures access to the cloud—and can continue to function without cloud connectivity—is a bigger challenge, but Axon believes it has developed a solution to address any concerns, according to Smith.
“Reliability really comes down to two things: the reliability of your Internet connectivity and the reliability of the system, if you lose Internet connectivity,” he said. “The first one is not a huge problem to solve. They have redundant Internet access through multiple carriers. And over the next few years, I think we’re going to see all sorts of new ways to connect to the Internet: 5G, lower satellites in addition to ground-based systems.”
While the issue of reliability connectivity to the cloud is “solvable,” Axon also has developed its CAD in a manner that allows it to continue functioning, even when cloud connectivity is lost, Smith said.
“If you do lose connection to the Internet, we’ve engineered our system in such a way that we’ve done some demos where we’ve watched a customer’s jaw hit the table when we just unplugged the Internet, and the system keeps chugging away just fine,” Smith said. “So, when we get in front of actual customers with demos, we think that’s an absolutely solvable perception issue that sets us up to, again … move the market this direction.”
Axon officials also are excited about the prospects for the company’s records-management system (RMS), Axon Records, according to Jeff Kunins, Axon’s chief product officer and executive vice president of software,
“I’m incredibly engaged both by the velocity and the quality that we’re building out Records at,” Kunins said. “And we’re on track that, by the end of 2020, we’re going to be the obvious RMS choice for about half of domestic agencies, both large and small.”