Harvard Innovation Labs Companies – i-lab – mark43 – 19/43
Mark43 develops law enforcement software that allows police to collect, manage, analyze and share information.
- Software for Police Officers’ Field Intel Gets Attention of Gen. Petraeus, VCs
Police cars may be next in line for an information age overhaul.
Software is being introduced to some police departments that can turn the background of a squad car’s dashboard red when the license plates or physical description of a suspect known to be armed and dangerous are keyed in. But when the person has no serious record, the display stays neutral, possibly calming an officer’s nerves.
“Surfacing this kind of information immediately can save a police officer’s life and save lives of the community,” said Scott Crouch, co-founder and chief executive of startup Mark43, whose software offers these and other features and is attracting interest from police departments and investors.
Police departments around the country are under pressure to improve community relations while protecting officers, and some are turning to technology to help.
Washington, D.C., Police Department is rolling out Mark43’s software to everyone on the force, in a first across-department adoption of the startup’s software that will also involve more than 30 federal agencies and represent some tens of thousands of users. The startup’s cloud-based technology is also designed to reduce the time it takes to file arrest reports and eliminates the need to print and make copies of reports by using electronic signatures. It then analyzes the data and visualizes it, so that detectives can visualize criminal networks.
Retired General David Petraeus said he penciled in a short meet-and-greet with Mr. Crouch, but ended up canceling the following meeting to learn more about the startup. Mark43, Gen. Petraeus said, “can accommodate the input of increasing types of data as the world of policing continues to evolve.” Indeed, police departments are adopting body cameras and using other instrumentation.
Gen. Petraeus added that he was impressed by the young Mr. Crouch, who’s 24 and a recent Harvard University graduate. “He’s still sleeping on a mattress on the floor. His feet are solidly attached to the Earth, while he’s got a very big brain.”
Gen. Petraeus ultimately invested in Mark 43’s $10.8 million Series A round of venture capital, led by venture firms Spark Capital and General Catalyst, Mr. Crouch told VentureWire. Lowercase Capital and Govtech Fund, Allen & Co., and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, also participated, as did actress Sophia Bush, the star of NBC’s Chicago PD.
But there are still limitations to what any software can do.
“Mark43 isn’t going to take a bad cop and make him a good cop,” said Alec Ross, adviser to the startup and former senior adviser for innovation to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Mark43 is a powerful tool. But it is just a tool.”