Dr. Steven McKinney, Founder & CEOYear 2008: A team of engineers brainstorm over a project handled by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security (ALDHS). The need was for a system that could document and interact with all the security cameras in public schools throughout the state. “Our intention was not only to accomplish the required function of integration with the camera systems, but also to tie together every other conceivable aspect of the facility by leveraging the unifying concept of ‘place’,” remarks Dr. Steven McKinney, Founder and CEO, SICS. This particular tenacity exhibited by SICS led to the formulation of a solution which years later inspired the design of the company’s flagship product nSide—a SaaS based, comprehensive and powerful indoor mapping system built on the Google Cloud Platform.
With over fifteen years of experience providing GIS, mapping, and web solutions, SICS’s team also offers professional services to customers to aid in rapid collection of information for integration into nSide. The company mainly focuses on three primary markets—safety planning, facility management, and asset management. With both technical and non-technical users of nSide, its ease of use stands paramount to its success.
"For our technical users we provide robust data creation and manipulation tools that allow them to document extreme levels of detail," informs McKinney. Taking the example of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit, a user can document the geographic position of the unit, provide textual description, model numbers, and any other useful information. For more non-technical users like teachers, SICS built nSide with suggestions from school administrators, specifically focusing on features that would be indispensable in case of real life shooter events. nSide provides detailed mapping information coupled with official procedures that are compiled and entered into the system during the planning phase. nSide is also used by 911 dispatchers to view the map of the building to help guide first responders.
An important feature of nSide is its scalability and role based design which fits according to the needs of an organization’s administrators.
Technology must facilitate the intimate relationship that each of us has with our own interior spaces but it absolutely cannot be in the way of the experience
Apart from this, nSide also provides powerful interface options. “Our engineers have worked out one of the few natural language query engines for geospatial data,” remarks Mckinney. nSide is organized on the concepts of collaboration in community, organization, user groups and users. This means while a teacher with access to “organization” will see only her school on the map, a sheriff will see every school building in their jurisdiction as they have “community” access. Another attribute, made possible by Google technology is the “Virtual Walk-through”. By using the same technology that provides users around the world “StreetView” access, nSide provides users with an indoor, 360 degree experience to virtually navigate selected buildings.
SICS is the official “Google for Work Partner” and access to Google’s technology is the direct benefit the company gets. Some of the company’s clients include the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC), the Alabama Department of Homeland Security (AL DHS) and the Alabama Geographic Information Program Office (AGIPO).
With experience in a diverse range of sectors including education, government, medical, and corporate, SICS’s goals are to expand to Europe; and in the future, Asia. Their customers will also benefit from the release of nSide 2.0 which will come with enhanced features and an aggressive pricing strategy. “Our objective is simple. We want to become the most popular provider of indoor mapping in the U.S,” ends McKinney.