A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week: CoCo Communications.
What: CoCo Communications
What it does: The Seattle-based company is developing software that allows different communication devices, including cellphones, handheld devices and radios, to talk to each other.
Solving the problem: Most police and fire departments and other first responders have incompatible equipment, making it impossible to communicate during a crisis.
Who: Mark Tucker, president and chief executive, who previously co-founded Kirkland-based Azazz.com, an online department store that theglobe.com bought in 1999. CoCo Chief Technology Officer Jeremy Bruestle is known for developing AirSnort, which exposed security flaws in wireless networks.
How CoCo works: The software sits on top of existing networks and acts like a conference call, allowing individuals and other networks to connect. “The CoCo protocol is the fabric that sews it altogether,” said Peter Erickson, vice president of business development.
In practice: With the software, a handheld device equipped with only a wireless Internet chip can act like a walkie-talkie and communicate with UHF or VHF radios. The device can also connect to a wireless Internet access point and view video. It can also make phone calls without a cellular connection. The only requirement is that it is in line of sight with another device using CoCo.
In action: The Coast Guard is using CoCo to communicate when traditional devices fail to work on a boat. Franklin High School in Seattle is also using the software to increase security.
Contracts: Customers include the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Service, Secret Service, Coast Guard and the Seattle School District.
Nitty gritty: Funded through angel investors, CoCo says it was profitable two quarters last year. It has 65 employees and 50 job openings in offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C.
New deployment: Today, it plans to announce a $1 million contract with Dallas Love Field, where the technology will be used to connect about 15 networks around the airport. It’s expected to serve as a model for airports nationwide, Erickson said.
— Tricia Duryee