A near-death experience and motivation of a man is making our streets a bit safer. Robert Johnson, a consultant to Securus Technologies and advocate of eliminating illegal cell phone contraband in prisons, has taken quite the road to where he is today.
Robert began his corrections career at Lee Correctional Institution, located in Bishopville, South Carolina. He eventually became quite adept at intercepting illegal contraband moving through the prison. After 15 years of service, his skills became so good that he was able to intercept a package of illegal contraband destined to a prison gang worth $50,000. The gang didn’t take this matter lightly. Using an illegal cell phone, they contacted an ex-convict on the outside and arranged a hit on Johnson. Although Johnson was critically injured during the assault, he went on to make a miraculous recovery. It was then learned that the entire crime was set up through the illegal cell phone.
This crime, as well as “hits” performed on others (including children), gave Johnson the motivation and new life goal of eradicating contraband cell phones in all prisons. He was hired on with Securus as a consultant and ultimately testified to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about his story. Johnson’s and others’ testimonies were influential and the FCC allowed this “call-jamming” technology to be used in prisons under certain rules.
Securus Technologies now works with many prisons nationwide to implement monitoring and other technologies that are important to increasing security. Their Wireless Containment Solution, or WCS, identifies the use of unauthorized cell phone numbers and then uses electronics to block the cell phone’s signal from reaching a tower, preventing the communication from being made. This system blocked 1.7 million communication attempts made by illegal cell phones during a recent 1-year period – in just eight prisons. Using contraband cell phones, gangs in prisons frequently try and run illegal activities carried out by members on the outside. As potentially hundreds of millions of communication attempts can be blocked as this technology takes hold in many more prisons, we can be assured that a lot of crime has been and will be prevented in our communities.
While many startups do everything and anything imaginable in order to receive the funding that’s needed to run an expensive tech-driven company, it seems that a little experience in their specific market can go a long way in attracting the right investors. ClassDojo seems to be figuring that out after boosting its valuation to $21 million through revenue and investments.
What ClassDojo does is bring communication to the classroom by designing a platform that empowers teachers by having a channel directly to parents and allows those same parents to remained informed when ti comes to what it going on in their children’s academic lives.
Sam Chaundhary and Liam Don, founders of ClassDojo, have made their interest in prioritizing communication, giving investors insight into their clear agenda for this platform. With it, Sam and Liam have made it possible for parents to know what are their obligations throughout the school year with respect to their children and the school. Likewise, teachers can update parents on their children’s development in terms of their studies but also any disciplinary complications can be made known to the parent, making for a classroom environment more conducive to learning and making parents feel more involved in the academics of their children.
There have been many companies that have tried to marry education and technology, particularly when it comes to textbooks and learning materials, but few have tapped into communication technologies in a way that ClassDojo has. Since their competition has been so sparse thus far, ClassDojo has been able to dominate this corner of their market. On its own, ClassDojo has managed to form partnerships with more than 85,000 public schools across North America. What’s helped them to maintain a strong foothold in this market is the considerations they have taken for their clients. With many of the schools they have partnered with being elementary schools, ClassDojo has made it a mission to protect the privacy information of the children of parents in these schools who are minors. This consideration, the emphasis on protection from a data breach has helped them to stand out from what little competition they may have had.
Since 2011, ClassDojo has provided communication tools to link parents to schools. $31 million in funding has been collected by this company which has helped them increase development of the technologies, such as simplifying interfaces that make users feel at ease when communicating across great distances.