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Superion Acquires the Market's Main 911 False Alarm Technology

The company is buying Public Safety Corp., the firm that makes CryWolf.

Superion, a major software provider for local government formally known as SunGard Public Sector, has acquired the main solution on the market for emergency responders to track false alarm calls to 911 systems.

It’s the first acquisition Superion has made since it was acquired by the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2017. Superion will take over Public Safety Corp., best known for its CryWolf software.

CryWolf, which helps fire department and law enforcement departments track false 911 calls, is the major player in its niche. According to a press release from Superion, CryWolf has about 90 percent of the share of its market.

Not that the market for the product is all that huge — yet. According to Superion Chief Executive Officer Simon Angove, PSC has about 300 customers.

There are about 18,000 local law enforcement agencies and nearly 30,000 fire departments in the U.S., so there are a lot of agencies that don’t use this kind of software.

The software works by keeping tabs on who is calling 911 without a legitimate need for it. If a certain person racks up enough false alarms, the emergency responders can issue escalating fines to them, make them a lower priority when deciding which calls to respond to or even put them on a do-not-respond list. The reaction likely depends on local policy.

The company boasts that it can save its customers major work hours by cutting down on the number of times an agency sends people out to nothing-burgers. In Los Angeles, police saw a 60 percent decline in false alarm calls from 102,500 in 2003 to 41,800 in 2011.

Especially if a department is understaffed and short on funds, using time efficiently is important.

“It’s really dealing with the chronic staffing issues many law enforcement agencies are facing today,” Angove said.

Angove thinks emergency responders are starting to move past seeing the technology as a luxury add-on to the typical software package.

“What we’re hearing increasingly from our customers … is that this is becoming a standard part of a system, of a (computer aided dispatch),” he said.

Superion sells CAD systems, and has offered CryWolf to its customers as an add-on for about 14 years. Since there are many CAD systems on the market, CryWolf has integrated with software from other companies like TriTech and Motorola Solutions.

That won’t change, Angove said — people with non-Superion CAD will still be able to use CryWolf.

It might even become a standard feature in Superion’s own CAD, but Angove said the company is still evaluating whether that would be a good idea.

Superion didn’t disclose the terms of the acquisition.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.