Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Public Sector Tech: New tools for the new normal

Axon launches cloud services to enhance data sharing, awareness in policing

Axon Respond, Virtual Reality Training and Auto-Transcribe are aimed at de-escalating encounters and curb excessive use of force.

Axon CEO: How technology can help enable police reform

Special Feature

Public Sector Tech: New tools for the new normal

ZDNet explores how new technologies like AI, cloud, drones, and 5G are helping government agencies, public organizations, and private companies respond to the emergency events of today and tomorrow.

Read More

Axon is extending its cloud services for policing to real-time awareness and data sharing, virtual reality-based training and artificial intelligence to auto transcribe body cam video.

According to Axon, the products--Axon Respond to connect patrol officers, field sergeants and tactical officers; Axon Virtual Reality Training; and Axon Auto-Transcribe--are aimed at de-escalating encounters and curb excessive use of force. 

The new product lines for Axon hit on a few core themes. The products and services are possible due to the company's digital transformation and move to become a cloud and services provider. Axon's body cameras and Evidence.com cloud platform form a digital trail that bring more transparency and accountability to policing.

Here's a look at the roadmap:

axon-roadmap.png

In addition, Axon, which originally started as Taser and a focus on its devices to apprehend suspects, has been adept at being ahead of policing trends. Today, Axon is aiming to be part of a national conversation about policing, inequity among Black and Brown people and justice system reform. 

In a recent shareholder letter, CEO Rick Smith said Axon's move to invest in body cameras in 2008 had its share of skeptics, but the product line gained traction after waves of protests in Ferguson, MO in 2014, which was also the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2020, Axon is betting that its new services will be an enabler for policing reform.

Smith also said that Axon has built a new position within its sales team to focus on incorporating community input for its product development. He said in a shareholder letter:

Axon engineers are developing software that addresses the need for better data collection, accountability, investigation, and compliance for force events, and help agencies to better document, analyze, and report on force incidents. We are eager to build upon our existing leadership in driving down injury rates and providing use of force accountability.

In an interview, Smith said that Axon can play a role in policing reform. "Police reform means we want to change the way policing operates and there are certainly political aspects to that, but there's also going to be very important technology aspects," he said.

Here are the new Axon services:

  • Axon Respond, which is designed to be a transformed 911 experience that can get the right help to avoid escalations. Axon Respond combines real-time awareness like live streaming with communications like talk-to-text as well as data connections with officers.
  • Axon Virtual Reality Training, which will get six new training scenarios revolving around interventions between officers when one is out of line. The other VR training scenarios, available in the first half of 2021, include post-traumatic stress injury, Alzheimer's/dementia and hard of hearing training.
  • Axon Auto-Transcribe is an AI-based service that will review video evidence and transcribe key points. Components include Review Assistant to create a time-synced auto-transcript and Transcription Assistant, which generates an initial transcript so users can make corrections.
axon-dispatch-sensors.png

The financial picture

Axon in its second quarter reported revenue of $141.26 million, up 26% from a year ago, with a net loss of $30.76 million, or 51 cents a share. The non-GAAP loss for Axon was a penny a share.

The company's software and sensors unit, which includes cloud services, has reached sales parity with Axon's TASER device sales.

Cloud revenue in the second quarter was up 32% in the second quarter with sensors and other revenue up 45% due to demand for Axon Body 3 cameras.

Axon said it is facing budget issues among its customer base but is seeing strong international bookings. TASER and body camera bookings were trending ahead early in the third quarter.

The company said:

At this time, our best estimate for our 2020 performance remains in line with our previously issued guidance, but there is enough uncertainty in how the current crisis will affect our customers that we don't feel that our internal estimates should be considered formal guidance.

Axon remains confident in its long-term, multi-year outlook, and we firmly believe we will emerge from 2020 even stronger. Our confidence is supported by our strong first half 2020 performance and the state of our current pipeline, which remains robust and is more geographically diverse than ever.