In just a few short years, Kelowna resident Gary Symons has transformed from CBC reporter to the face of a growing technology company that’s helping the Canadian military to become a lean, mean, self-publishing machine.
Symons, one of the founding members of VeriCorder Technology, announced this week that the Defence Public Affairs Learning Centre was trading in its clunky TV cameras for iPhones, allowing its members to fold VeriCorder technology into day-to-day operations.
It’s a major partnership that will add a few new jobs to the local market in the short term, and potentially a dozen more in the next couple years.
And, it was sparked by a simple request for hardware a year earlier.
“(The military) was already looking, as many companies are, to use mobile devices for reporting,” said Symons, whose company has been selling hardware that transform iPhones into mini media centres, allowing journalists to dump the heavy cameras and computers that once weighed them down.
“We sold them some mikes, then we called them up and said, ‘did you know we have all this other stuff?'”
At the time, Vericorder’s software side was primarily the Voddio app that could be downloaded to an iPhone, and used to edit video in the palm of the user’s hand.
“They loved it, so we trained them in how to use it and they’ve been using it ever since,” he said.
Then Symons told them about a content management system they were building.
Using Voddio, the military will be able to post directly to an online publishing system called VeriLocal.
Back at home base, military personnel will be able to track every officer in the field using their MyReporters management system, creating a newsroom that’s free of boundaries that have traditionally existed, “revolutionizing” information dissemination.
“You have one content management system that manages all your other content manager systems,” he said.
“When I publish a story it can go to website, news radio and TV and newspaper, but at the same time I would go to Twitter, Facebook and make a short URL a, handling all social media simultaneously.”
While it’s a system that will allow the military to simply take control of its own messaging, by telling stories on multiple mediums from anywhere in the world, it’s also something that should keep keep VeriCorder alive and employing more people in the Okanagan.
“Building this was an absolutely necessary step,” said Symons.
“If we’re just apps, then No. 1, the market isn’t that big, and No. 2, somebody is going to come along and equal whatever we do. So we had to do something from wheat everyone else was doing and from my knowledge, nobody can do this.”
Symons wasn’t able to offer up any information on what the contract was worth, though he did say it was a contract with room for growth.
All in all, it’s a full-circle moment, explained MP Ron Cannan, who was also at the announcement.
“The federal government has invested directly in VeriCorder through our IRAP program, and also through the Canadian Media Fund,” he said.
“Now, it’s clear we are seeing this investment is bearing fruit. Our military is deploying a communications system that is the most advanced in the world today. We are seeing new, highpaid jobs in the Okanagan Valley, and an impressive new player rising in the world of online video.”