Innovation in its DNA

Innovation in its DNA

< Back to Articles | Topics: Awards Spotlight | Contributors: Sara Ericsson | Published: August 29, 2019

There’s a ground-breaking company revolutionizing critical information systems in North America from Dartmouth. Their biggest customers are down south, but InterTalk Critical Information Systems is making waves in Canada and harnessing them too with their critical information system technology.

Company president Chris Oldham says the business, which won Innovative Business of the Year at the 2019 Halifax Business Awards, provides a place for people to do very important work that goes toward making faster and more reliable critical information systems that benefit everyone.

“When fire chiefs, police chiefs who are getting calls during public emergencies then call us and say they appreciate how we help them, it feels incredible,”
he says.

An innovative start

Oldham says innovation at InterTalk starts with a unique customer-based, exact-fit approach that sees its systems tweaked and altered to fit each customer’s unique needs.

Oldham says they remain the only company in their industry to employ such an approach.

“Innovation is kind of in our DNA … and we wouldn’t be in business right now if we were not continuously innovating and pushing the envelope,” he says.

The company was founded in 1997 by Larry Hicks and Oldham’s father, Eamonn, who implemented Nova Scotia’s 911 system in the early 1990s.

Oldham says Eamonn had a passion for effective communication and public safety and was among those who saw how improvements to this would mean improved safety for everyone.

“[Eamonn] saw that everybody has a vested interest in it, so ensuring help is there when help is needed was an important goal for him,” says Oldham.

InterTalk was named Export Business of the Year at the 2018 awards and does about 95 per cent of its business with American clients like the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and offers after-sale remote technical support.

It worked with CAL FIRE during the state’s devastating 2018 wildfires.

“These are the people out there, saving others. So to hear that from them just feels incredible,” says Oldham.

New flagship technology

The business also has an innovative new technology on its horizon which will be the first such system in North America.

The system is called Enlite and will be a cloud-based public safety dispatch product that will use a broadband network to make public safety more cost-effective for often cash-strapped public agencies and make it into a service, rather than a product.

Oldham says the technology is set to become InterTalk’s flag in the ground thanks to its ability to source data from related social media posts that are curated according to words selected by police — whether it be gun, bomb, fire or otherwise.

“Imagine as a dispatcher, if you had access to all those social streams and start to see an influx of posts about a gun in the mall, for example. You’d also have access to onscreen mapping and would see where your police units are and choose the closest to send to the unfolding situation,” says Oldham.

“All of this is done before any 911 call was made. This saves minutes — an eternity in public safety.”

Impact here at home

InterTalk, then called Pantel, was co-founded by Eamonn as a place for his friends and family to work, but the business has grown to become a major employer in Dartmouth. Oldham says it has doubled its staffing over the last four years and now employs 40 people and is continuing to experience significant growth.

“When we hire people, we see it as long-term. Our turnover is almost zero — we haven’t reduced and have only grown,” he says.

Oldham says the business’ next steps are the launching of an awareness campaign to introduce people to InterTalk in Dartmouth, inform them about what they do and show them how far the company’s reach extends.

The business is a diamond sponsor of the upcoming Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials’ annual conference, which is being held in Halifax for the first time in 20 years. Oldham hopes this exposure creates a bridge to bring more opportunity for business with Canadian clients and help show that Enlite is the future of critical information systems.

“It will be a process for public safety agencies to trust a cloud-based application for radio dispatch, but we feel we have a very solid product,” says Oldham.

“Our team is very creative and bright and the challenge of trying to solve a problem in best way possible is always something we are looking to do. Enlite is our solution for this.”

< Back to Articles | Topics: Awards Spotlight

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