Does It Work?

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Like any new technology, we are often asked, “does it work?”  Each time we are challenged, we very candidly share our experiences and the numerous crime fighting wins and clients successes we’ve had - some of which may be found here.  But what do you do when the media reports on a story without contacting you to confirm the facts?  You keep working to make your existing/prospective clients happy, to improve the technology, and you write a blog.

We don’t live in a perfect world.  Technology is not perfect, the media is not perfect, and human perception is not perfect.  That is why Knightscope takes the responsibility of open communication very seriously.  Of course, there will always be things no responsible company discusses (trade secrets, intellectual property, client data, etc.), but we are otherwise easy to work with when it comes to public relations.

It was, therefore, extremely upsetting to be the target of a hit-piece that labeled Knightscope as “useless” based on a client not utilizing ONE of the many features available to them.  In our opinion, that was irresponsible and harsh.  Would you call a smart phone useless because one didn’t use or have a certain feature enabled?  Unlikely.  But rather than get furious about it, it’s important to take responsibility and consider what this will teach us and how we will reinvent our future to better serve our clients and the public moving forward.

The client referenced is a California municipality that recently deployed a Knightscope robot and publicly acknowledged that they were still learning the ways in which it best fit within their operating procedures.  One available feature they had not yet implemented was Intercom.  Intercom utilizes the robot as a means to allow two-way communication between someone near the robot and someone at the client’s monitoring or dispatch center.  Clients monitor all security functions of the robots, including the Intercom, through the included browser-based user interface, the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC). 

After the incident, Knightscope worked with the client to immediately activate the Intercom, set it to call a dispatch landline and tested the functionality.  We also held additional training, discussed new operating procedures and will continue to support the City in their ongoing efforts to maximize the benefit of these supplemental tools.  As we onboard new clients, this will now be a part of our process – to ensure that we clearly communicate the benefits of each feature and provide additional contingencies for those not being utilized.  We can do better and we will.  There are pros and cons being at the cutting edge of technology, and we sometimes find ourselves in un-chartered territory. 

As important as it is to report on shortcomings, it is even more important to highlight the positive resolution of those events, improvements made since, and the continued growing demand for services like ours.  And to the one reporter who offered to come back out, test the Intercom functionality with the City and then report the outcome in a fair and honest manner – we say THANK YOU.  We’re optimistically looking forward to that story going viral, too.

Part of measuring success comes from the ability to respond to adversity.  At Knightscope, we choose to allow life’s challenges to lift us up instead of knock us down.  As we continue to build and deploy new technologies, our experiences will teach us more lessons – and that is how we will continue to get better and better as we strive to help make the United States of America the safest country in the world.

William Santana Li