BLOGS & NEWS
Comcast NBCUniversal Sports Tech Accelerator
With eager anticipation, The Sonar Company is proud to announce that we will be participating in the Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech Accelerator Program this year! The entire team is overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude at being invited to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Today marks the beginning of the 12-week program powered by Boomtown Accelerators. Our participating team members, (Interim CEO Roy Terracina, Cofounder, and CIO Allan Matarrita- Chinchilla, Executive Manager Emma Gaona, and VP of Sales Michele Klumb) are ready to learn, work hard, and impress some of the industries best.
The Sonar Company applied for the program in the summer along with 1000+ other startups. After multiple pitches and rounds of interviews, The Sonar Company was 1 of 10 chosen to participate and be mentored by the NBCUniversal SportsTech team.
The Sonar Company, along with the other startups from around the world, will bring their innovative solutions to Comcast NBCUniversal and the SportsTech partner consortium which include NBC Sports, Sky Sports, Golf, NASCAR, U.S. Ski and Snowboard, USA Cycling, USA Swimming, and Comcast Ventures.
The virtual program will feature workshops on fundraising, sales, marketing and branding, product/market fit, mental health, company culture, and working with corporations, and will meet seasoned startup founders who will share their insights on building and selling highly successful businesses.
At the completion of the program, The Sonar Company will participate in a virtual Demo Day on May 26, 2021, and present our technology before some of the world’s leading venture capitalists, startup founders, business executives, and media.
Check out the official Comcast NBC universal Sports Tech blog here: https://www.comcastsportstech.com/inside-track/sportstech-inaugural-cohort/
Living in a Smart City
The Start of the New Year brought change and innovation. From a technology standpoint, the spotlight for the greatest potential is on Smart Cities.
What is a Smart City?
Cisco defines a smart city as a city that uses digital technology to connect, protect, and enhance the lives of citizens. IoT sensors, video cameras, social media, and other inputs act as a nervous system, providing the city operator and citizens with constant feedback so they can make informed decisions.
Running on one single tech system allows a city to communicate more easily in an emergency situation.
Cities that are looking to convert, face the challenge of their current infrastructures not being able to transfer to a system where they can intercommunicate. Using as much of the existing infrastructure is vital for those cities that have had to cut back financially and are working with a smaller budget.
Because it’s both expensive to connect old systems, but vital to repurpose as much as they can to prevent overspending, Cities must evaluate where their priorities lie.
“The city of Austin, Texas recently categorized their older systems into three buckets — must replace, need to replace, and nice to replace. Working with Salient Systems, city officials then looked at the age of the current technology in the categories compared against the expected End of Life support for the products.”
What are the benefits of a smart city?
For city agencies:
- Gain more citizen engagement and optimize operations through real-time data intelligence and intra-agency collaboration.
- Improve daily life through city services. Smart cities offer visibility into real-time city data for improving mobility, connectivity, and safety services.
- Drive new revenue streams and economic development by enhancing awareness of customer activity and behavior.
For developers and vendors:
- Fuel application development of city-data. Help the city improve operational efficiencies, engage citizens, and boost economic viability.
The way The Sonar Company “installs” its technology is perfect for cities that are looking for ways to take the next tech step forward without breaking the bank. Our technology is installed to existing software hardware, whatever the nucleus maybe, eliminating the need for a while new infrastructure
As more cities are making the switch, The Sonar Company is determined to be the solution.
According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, these are the Top 10 Growing Smart Cities
- New York
- Hong Kong
In a world where screen time is at a record high, companies are looking for the best ways to capture user’s attention while staying ahead of their competitors. In fact, abcnews.com reported that the average American teen spends 7 hours and 22 minutes on their phone every day, and that number only seems to be increasing. Social media platforms are having to constantly compete with each other to offer the highest level of entertainment and keep them on their app. One key strategy that is often overlooked, but can be highly effective at both gaining and maintaining user’s attention, is gamification. EveryoneSocial defines gamification as “the process of incentivizing peoples’ engagement and activities to drive results with game-like mechanics. In business, gamification can be used to motivate employees to complete activities that drive sales, leads, and more meetings with qualified candidates.”
One of the greatest benefits of gamification is that it taps into several psychological principles in humans. Regardless of your target market’s demographic, it is the basic human desire to enjoy friendly competition and feel a need for recognition and reward. Gamification also creates a sense of community when playing against other users in your area and fighting for the highest scores on the leaderboard.
Gamification can also create new streams of revenue through advertising. Exposing users to ad banners at the top of their screens positions advertisers directly in front of their target market while putting ad revenue dollars in the platform’s pocket. Adding a reward system where users can redeem a prize from those sponsors creates even more incentive for users to participate in the platform and increases their overall engagement. This marketing strategy creates a win-win-win situation for advertisers, users, and the platform itself.
The Sonar Company’s newest app for United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County highlights the key advantages of gamification. Participation in the app directly supports United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County and the community they serve, while giving users the opportunity to win fun prizes. Download it now on the app store and start playing today!
Nonprofits Fundraising During COVID-19
When it comes to raising money for a nonprofit, there are endless ways to do it. Whether it be running campaigns, hosting events like bake sales and car washes, or simply collecting donations, fundraising is an essential part of a nonprofit’s ability to make a difference in its community. Donating is the simplest way to support a nonprofit and in 2019 alone, Americans gave over $449 billion in donations with corporate giving over $21 billion according to the National Philanthropic Trust.
Recently, celebrities and successful business people have made it even more of a priority to help communities get through COVID-19, including billionaire Mackenzie Scott who has donated over $4 billion in the last 5 months to various charities across America, including a generous $20 million donation to our local United Way in San Antonio, Texas. Donations this grandeur don’t come every day. Although they are incredibly generous and much appreciated, every dollar or minute spent volunteering is just as impactful.
This year, nonprofits were faced with a new challenge of adapting their fundraising operations around COVID-19 while simultaneously meeting the increased demand for assistance from their communities. Because in-person events are being restricted, nonprofits had to quickly pivot and figure out the best way to raise money while being safe.
MobileCause, a platform commonly used by nonprofits to help with collecting donations, published a list of 10 creative and effective ways to host fundraising campaigns virtually while in lockdown. Their first suggestion is a device drive. This means supporters would be able to donate their computers, ipads, and other devices that are no longer being used in order to help students who may not otherwise have access to the proper technology to continue their classes from home. Another creative solution is to host a digital happy hour. Attendees are able to support displaced service industry workers and learn how to make mixed drinks from home while texting in donations. MobileCause also listed an easy way to engage donors by hosting a virtual run. Participants pledge a specific amount of miles they plan to run or walk on their own time rather than in a large crowd. These are great options to keep your community engaged while supporting their nonprofits.
While COVID-19 has resulted in many hardships and difficulties for communities and businesses across the world, it has taught us that volunteering, fundraising, and making an impact on communities is still possible and more important than ever before. For more information on how you can support your communities, visit your local United Way website and see how you can help.
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and with the added demand for help from communities at an all-time high, nonprofits are busier than ever and in need of resources. The Sonar Company has created a solution to help nonprofits raise revenue year-round and reconnect with their communities. That solution is Sonar Outreach, a customizable mobile application that is tailored to each nonprofit we serve.
The app’s homepage centralizes all of the nonprofit’s information like news and recent events. It also has a donate button and volunteer button, making registering for opportunities and giving money very user friendly.
Nonprofits create revenue through the gamification aspect of the app. Members of the community can play games that show them banner ads at the top of the screen from local or national sponsors. This generates ad revenue for the nonprofit while exposing sponsors to a new target market with a unique demographic.
Users are engaged and challenged through the game point-earning system. Points are used to redeem prizes with various value ranges. This provides sponsors additional visibility for the prizes they donate. It truly is a win-win for users and sponsors while supporting their community.
Lastly, we provide valuable statistics to the nonprofit and advertisers about the users and allow for critical surveying opportunities. How better to serve the community than to be able to reach out to them at any time?
The Sonar Company offers an economical service – often covered by a small portion of the ad revenue – to maintain and update the app. This hands-off experience allows the organization more time to focus on its mission.
The Sonar Company can tailor this app to any type of nonprofit and help them generate a new revenue stream, reconnect with their target audience, and provide their community with a centralized, user-friendly platform that everyone can benefit from.
Although 2020 presented many hardships and trying times for businesses and communities across America, this was one of the ways The Sonar Company was able to pivot and utilize this opportunity to give back to our communities. To learn more about Sonar Outreach or inquire about creating a partnership, contact [email protected]
Managing Cell Phone Use in Jails
Managing Cellphone Use in US Jails
The regulation of cellular devices in jails all around the United States is a top priority for national security due to recent events ranging from illegal activities coordinated from within correctional institutions.
Hence, one of the main solutions established by the authorities and jails managements is the implementation of precision control of wireless communications.
According to Security Magazine, one of the most significant security challenges today is the introduction of contraband cellular devices inside of correctional institutions.
“In 2013, the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) faced such a challenge. Tavon White, Leader of the Black Guerilla Family gang, ran a sophisticated scheme to move contraband into BCDC eliciting the assistance of fellow inmates and correctional officers.”
If there is a regular signal all over the complex, how to prevent contraband? So, the question becomes how to balance the need to communicate and the need for security?
The Sonar Company’s solution, SafeWave, is revolutionizing alert response technology, changing the outcome of this kind of security challenge relying on high-frequency sounds, inaudible to the human ear that provides a 5 second-response; a wireless, internet-free solution.
It is the fastest, most reliable system to send security alerts completely offline. It’s also capable of out-reaching, outperforming high tech, digital walkie talkies. SafeWave allows one-on-one or group communication, voice and image messages, without the need of internet.
The Power of Resilience
If there’s anything the past 10 months have taught people, as a society, it’s resilience. Resilience is necessary not only to grow but stay afloat in 2020. The unimaginable happened when a Global Pandemic struck, leaving the whole world in fear, panic, and confusion. After Texas shut down, in mid-March, thousands of people were left without income. Unemployment rates skyrocketed. When Texans would return to work was unclear and unsettling.
With the social distancing order in place and a limit to 10 people in a crowd, family and friends were unable to comfort each other in a most desperate time of need. The orders and regulations left some feeling isolated and at times hopeless. Families and friends turned to technology to stay connected, and the era of Zoom meetings, dinners and happy hours began.
It is important to acknowledge mental health and develop appropriate coping mechanisms. Take moments to process what is going on in the world and how it is affecting individuals. Remember there are thousands upon thousands also feeling isolated, worried, and frustrated. Then be resilient, be creative, push as hard as you can in order to recover, and survive. The powerful message of resilience has allowed Americans to take back the things they can control when it seems like it had been taken away.
How The Sonar Company shows resilience:
Being a start-up has its own challenges to begin with. A global pandemic that has affected almost every industry added to the list of challenges that needed to be overcome. One of The Sonar Company’s main goals is to implement its technology in schools. A day before the Safe Wave app was ready to launch, schools across Texas and the United States closed. The Sonar Company processed the dilemma, brainstormed, and pivoted. The team developed a way we could reach people at home by transforming the idea of Sports Sonar, our original product, and created SonarCast. SonarCast significantly increased the potential for success. SonarCast connects broadcasted programs, radio or television, directly with the viewing audience without the need for the internet. With our country quarantined to their homes, audience engagement and interaction provides a much-needed feeling of involvement with the ‘outside’ world.
The pandemic was not the only barrier, nor was it the most difficult, The Sonar Company had to overcome. The sudden passing of the co-founder and CEO was not only concerning for the future of the company but heartbreaking for the team he worked so closely with. Recovering from the tragedy took a combination of emotional and professional strength. As the company continues to pivot and create new opportunities for itself, resilience is its strongest ally.
Resilience has taken many different forms. Communities and individuals are recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally from unimaginable circumstances. Tremendous loss and grief are continuing to be felt across the country. From losing loved ones to losing a source of income, the year has grown increasingly worse for many Americans.
This year has presented struggles to the entire country. Although physically it has kept people apart, it has brought people together in the most unexpected ways.
There are plenty of resources currently available for those who feel like they need help. Many people are struggling this year, and it’s being recognized and addressed by major institutions and organizations. Harvard University was one of many to release guidelines to help families and those still working build resilience during COVID-19.
As we look forward to the end of quarantine we will have more confidence in our abilities to overcome even the most unexpected of challenges. We realize that we are taking part in a historical time that will be researched for years to come. We are teaching future Americans that we can unite as a nation, community, and family and overcome with a resilient mindset and heart.
COVID-19 and Nonprofits
With over 10 million cases, 200 thousand deaths, and the shutdown of businesses and schools across the nation, each one of us has, in some way, been impacted by the effects of COVID-19. From famous celebrities like Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson to everyday civilians, millions have been diagnosed with the contagious virus and are having to navigate through a new normal. In May of 2020, over 20 million Americans filed for unemployment and over 300 companies filed for bankruptcy and claimed COVID-19 was to blame.2 However, not everyone experienced financial troubles. Essential companies such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and food delivery services remained open during the pandemic and have been quite successful.
One critical industry that was negatively affected by this pandemic were charities and nonprofit organizations. The demand from communities who were already struggling with things like rent, food, and other basic needs is at an all-time high, and with volunteers staying home and a reduction in donations, nonprofits are struggling to find new ways to increase revenue and connect with their community. Independent Sector3 conducted a survey that “illustrates that the pandemic and the resulting economic shutdown has had significant effects on the services, operations, and the people working in the nonprofit sector.” They reported an overall reduction in revenue for 83% of nonprofits due to canceled events and closed operations, and a 47% reduction in employment. Taking a closer look at lost revenue, they found that earned revenue decreased by 83%, individual giving decreased by 53% and philanthropic grants decreased by 33%.
The survey asked “What types of additional assistance would be most helpful to your organization?” and an overwhelming amount of responses suggested for “additional assistance in the form of forgivable loans.” Regardless of what type of assistance is received by nonprofits, every bit of help makes an impact. Some ways to support your local nonprofits are:
- Donate money, supplies or time
- Attend fundraising events or volunteer opportunities
- Share campaigns on social media
- Use your voice to advocate for individuals and organizations that need help
Nonprofits support communities year-round and with your help, they can make an even bigger impact during this pandemic. For more ways to get involved, check out your local United Way website to help make a difference.
Run Hide Fight
The film “Run Hide Fight”, which just premiered at the Venice Film Festival, has moved and shocked its viewers by reflecting a stark reality that still feels latent in schools in the United States.
The film brings to the table a delicate issue that we still seek to overcome as a society. Through the story of Zoe Hull (17), the viewer can identify with the typical problems that an adolescent faces in high school, and also confront the specter of violence in our schools.
The director, Kyle Rankin said: “Writing Run Hide Fight was how I dealt with my own fear and helplessness regarding mass shootings. My intent was never to exploit anyone’s pain, but to potentially kickstart respectful conversations about guns in America. By design, the final film is neither pro- nor anti-gun, so that it might encourage more dialogue than division, especially between friends who fall on opposite sides of this complex issue”.
Rankin continued, “I hope as audiences experience the film, they’ll consider what choices they’d make and who they’d want to be if they found themselves in Zoe’s position. Ultimately, the film is meant to ring emotionally true, and leave moviegoers with a memory that almost feels like their own”.
According to The Trace, the U.S. has had 1,316 school shootings since 1970 and these numbers are increasing. 18% of school shootings have taken place since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
First step is discussion, but which is the path to prevention?
Despite being a profoundly complex subject, there is just so much we can do. According to the Children Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute, there are 3 key solutions:
- Begin with School Climate: Building a cohesive and supportive school environment is key to preventing school shootings and traumatic events like other types of mass shootings.
- Health Care Settings: Health care providers can also help in preventing school shootings. They are positioned to identify young patients at risk. At CHOP, primary care and emergency care providers can utilize behavioral health screening tools to identify, assess and refer patients for mental health services to prevent mental illness from being left untreated or ignored. Medical professionals can partner with specific, local mental health providers to establish clear communication, consultation, and referral pathways for at-risk patients.
- Addressing Risk of Violence with Programs and Policy: To reduce the risk for individuals with emotional and behavioral challenges to become violent.
And finally, a crucial measure that we can take is to streamline the systems and protocols related to potential emergency situations in our schools, reducing response time and promoting platforms that unify communication within the school and towards the authorities. These might be baby steps but each one counts and could save a life.
What Is Considered Bullying
Bullying is a term that has become commonplace in schools. But what officially characterizes a bully in school settings? As defined by NSSC (National School Safety Center) in 2006, “bullying is a form of violence that hurts others.” The Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education established the first federal definition in 2014. This definition has 3 core elements:
- unwanted aggressive behavior
- observed or perceived power imbalance
- repetition or high likelihood of repetition of bullying behaviors
We will take a quick look at these key definitions. We can’t stop bullying if we aren’t all clear on the definition.
What is Bullying?
According to Wikipedia, you know we all trust them, “For an act to be considered bullying, it must meet certain criteria. These include hostile intent, imbalance of power, repetition, distress, and provocation…There are four types of bullying, which includes verbal, physical, psychological, and cyber.” Now let’s dive a little deeper.
In 2006, Hilda Clarice Quiroz published an overview of school bullying, how to identify bullies, and what to do when bullying happens. According to Quiroz, “School bullying happens at school or during school-sponsored activities when a student or group of students intentionally and repeatedly uses their power to hurt other individuals or groups.” Still consistent with today’s Wikipedia but take note that the cyber category was not a concern in 2006. In other words, our children cannot escape a bully today. Cyberbullying can be undetected by friends, parents, and schools with direct messaging and Snap Chat’s instant deletion of messages.
Many of us think of bullying as a physical altercation but times have changed. Quiroz defined 2 types of bullying:
- hitting, tripping, shoving, pinching, excessive tickling
- verbal threats, name-calling, racial slurs, insults
- demanding money, property, service
- stabbing, choking, burning, and shooting
- rejecting, excluding, isolating
- ranking or rating, humiliating
- manipulating friends and relationships
- writing hurtful or threatening e-mails and postings on web sites
- blackmailing, terrorizing, and proposing dangerous dares
Why is Defining Bullying Important?
Without a universal definition of a bully, education of identifying a bully, and solutions to stop bullying, we may never see a decrease in school violence – school shootings, fights, suicides, etc. While definitions may vary, the effects on the targeted child could be fatal – either for the child or in the form of retaliation. It is a problem that our entire society should join together to resolve. In 2019, National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice reported 20% of 12-18-year-olds experienced bullying nationwide. That’s one in five! According to the CDC, “we know that bullying behavior and suicide-related behavior are closely related. This means youth who report any involvement with bullying behavior is more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than youth who do not report any involvement with bullying behavior.”
What can we do? Talk to your school, teachers, and children. Be the change that moves us past this cycle of destruction.
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Women In Tech
The Dead Zone
Dead Zone is a term people are far too familiar with. A Dead Zone is an area in a home or building where a device should receive Wifi or internet, but the connection is blocked. Anything that interferes with WiFi radio waves produces a dead zone.WiFi works off of the same principle as other wireless devices – it uses radio frequencies to send signals between devices.
Interference can occur from inadequate bandwidth from your router, miss positioning of router antennas, and even building materials and structures. Dead zones can be more than just an inconvenience in schools, hospitals and jails. Emergency situations need immediate responses without fail.
Dead zone interference during an emergency situation can prevent alerts and protocol from being sent. This can lead to serious life threatening consequences in certain situations.
The Sonar Company conducted testing, with a jail interested in our SafeWave product, after an experience they had with a prison guard. He was unable to call for backup and a prisoner died. Their guard was attempting to reach other guards,but could not due to a dead zone. Walkie talkies are typically the device of choice due to security regulations. Thick walls, in jails, can even prevent radio communication between walkie talkies from being received and they do not rely on internet connection.
Hospitals rely on internet access to run efficiently, but they too experience dead zones. One of the major reasons medical professionals still use pagers is because it is easier for them to penetrate through the thick hospital walls. Pagers rely on satellites, which is why they are trusted to ensure messages can get to the appropriate doctor. While they may be more reliable, pagers remain to only serve as a one way communication tool. The need for two-way communication is why 78% of hospitals have doctors and nurses use cell phones as a primary means of communication. This is why Hospitals need to find a dead zone solution.
Schools and campuses also experience dead zones throughout their campus. Construction materials are built to be sturdy to withstand a possible fire or natural disaster. Schools typically use SMS messaging for internal communication amongst teachers, faculty and staff. Not only does SMS not deliver up to 10% of messages sent, but dead zones interfere as well. In an emergency situation 100% of alerts need to be sent and received.
How can you fix a dead zone in your building?
First to identify a dead zone. Pick up a mobile device that is connected to your network and walk around. When you lose service, you have hit a dead zone. This is the simplest way to find your problem areas.
A temporary fix is to move the router to a different location, which could create a dead zone somewhere else, or replace the antennas of the router. Using a router repeater or connecting weather net cable are also a potential fix, however it is not a wireless solution.
So what is the best solution?
Communicate without the need of Wifi or Internet connection.
It is uncommon knowledge that ultrasonic waves can be used to send and receive messages and other content. This is referred to as Data-Over-Audio and it is the future of communication.
Check out this link to see how Ultrasonic Sound waves can be your solution.
Nicholas Hayward SafeWave Give Away
With rising physical and mental health concerns across the nation, SafeWave can make sure you are prepared and equipped with the most reliable resources. The Sonar Company invites schools across Texas to apply for the Nicholas Hayward SafeWave give away for a chance to win our alert system for free. The Sonar Company is also accepting nominations for schools to enter from parents, teachers or anyone with a loved one who is attending a Texas K12 school.
The Sonar Company would not be where it is today without Nicholas Hayward. With this contest we are thanking him and honoring his dream.
Nicholas Hayward was the Co-Founder and CEO of the Sonar Company. He had a vision for his company that was driven by passion and determination. Nick’s level of determination was possessed by few, and admired by many. Nick worked more, and slept less than the average professional, but somehow still managed to be there not only for his friends and family, but for his community as well. Nick was a strong believer in giving back and always envisioned creating an avenue through his company. He planned to give the alert system, SafeWave, to less privileged schools, with limited budgets, even before he had the chance to make a profit.
Today, after a month and a half since his passing, The Sonar Company is proud to announce the Nicholas Hayward SafeWave giveaway in his honor. We know Nick would support this decision and proudly have his name attached to it.
SafeWave decreases emergency response time, less than 10 seconds, giving school officials the power to react faster and save more lives. With the use of ultrasonic sound wave technology, SafeWave transmits data-over-audio without relying on the internet or Wifi. SafeWave uses the school’s existing speakers and an easy to use back office that does not require any hardware installation. With the push of a button an in audible tone is sent from the speaker, and picked up by designated cell phones. The cell phone decodes the alert that is embedded within the tone and the corresponding school protocol appears on the screen within seconds. For schools without a speaker system, SafeWave has a proprietary alternative system that still does not require an internet connection, and works just as fast. SafeWave provides the fastest, most reliable alert system regardless of available technology.
Below, you will find the application and nomination forms along with the rules and guidelines for the contest. If you have any questions or would like to know more, please email [email protected].
Click here for the Application:NHG Application
Click here for the Nomination Form:NHG Nomination Form
Click here for Rules and Regulations: Nick Hayward Contest Rules