When it comes to encrypting and transmitting sensitive data, emergency services like the fire department in Victoria, Australia, the San Francisco Police and the Royal Malaysia Police turn to Québec-based Radio IP Software for a solution. “We’re in 10 different countries around the world with multiple security agencies,” explains Roch Tremblay, General Manager of Radio IP Software.
The Longueuil-based company was founded in 1998 by four graduates of the University of Sherbrooke. While working on a project that actually had nothing to do with public safety, they developed a product that would allow them to encrypt and transmit data on radio frequencies. “Discussions with the Direction générale des réseaux de télécommunications of the Government of Québec quickly showed us that our product could be very useful for a security agency like the Sûreté du Québec. In fact, they’re one of Radio IP’s customers,” Mr. Tremblay says.
Other police forces began to show interest in the product in 2001, when Radio IP was approached by the Chicago Police Department and Motorola immediately after the September 11 attacks. The police force needed to ensure that data transmitted between their headquarters and police vehicles was prioritized in a secure tunnel. This was the Québec company’s first export.
A customer base of government agencies
Radio IP’s customer base is still largely made up of security agencies, such as police forces, fire departments or emergency medical transportation services. “Our clients have access to sensitive personal information. It’s very important to preserve the confidentiality of this information, which we do by encrypting data,” Mr. Tremblay explains.
In Canada, as elsewhere, dealing with government agencies can be a long and complex process. Moreover, given the nature of Radio IP’s products, which offer encryption at the highest level recognized by the FBI, the company is subject to many restrictions regarding the countries and entities with which it does business. For example, they have to inform the federal government of any transaction concerning its cyber security equipment.
“The closeness of the Canadian and American governments makes it much easier to export to the American market,” Mr. Tremblay says. It was also one of the first markets the company targeted, because of its size, and they went on to win the accounts of Pennsylvania’s and Virginia’s State Police, the Port of Los Angeles and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, among others.
In terms of business development, establishing partnerships with industry giants was a key element of Radio IP’s success. “Being able to count on sales forces that are established in different countries in great numbers increased our sales potential ten-fold. The fact that all of these people are talking about our solution is most definitely an advantage,” Mr. Tremblay explains.
This Québec SME is not limiting itself to its partners’ sales efforts, however. While it can prove complex to visit some of its faraway customers, among them four Australian states, Radio IP knows how to take advantage of the exhibitions and conferences attended by its customer base. According to Mr. Tremblay, an in-person visit every two years to their Asia‑Pacific customers is essential. “It’s very well regarded. They understand that we are investing time and money to travel and meet them, and they recognize that,” he explains.
A first solo venture into a new market
Radio IP recently participated in a trade mission with the general delegation of Québec and the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation to Mexico, a market where the company sees great potential. “It’s our first real attempt to tackle a new market on our own,” Mr. Tremblay explains.
Mexico is entering a technological phase that is very interesting for Radio IP. Its software works well with the obsolescent networks in place; in addition it will also be able to ensure a simple transition once the networks are updated. “We’re going back in October, this time with the Canadian Embassy, in order to strengthen the ties we developed on previous missions,” Mr. Tremblay adds.