Crisis app gets larger audience with Blackboard


The Blackboard logo is seen at its Washington headquarters in this 2014 file photo. Technology company In Case of Crisis is partning with education technology company Blackboard to reach larger audience. (Stephen Weigand)

A Washington technology company is partnering with Blackboard to give college students, faculty and staff the ability to deal with emergencies such as fire, weather and campus crimes.

Herndon-based In Case of Crisis has integrated its emergency app into Mosaic, which is a mobile platform by the education technology company Blackboard.

The subscription-based service will be sold to universities and colleges, which will in turn make it available to its students.

“It’s a little app that sits on the smart phone, whether an Apple or Android, and it will have the emergency plan that the institution came up with sitting right there, for that person to act on in a number of different situations, whether its an active shooter, weather, a medical emergency or a fire in a building,” said Chris Britton, general manager of In Case of Crisis.

Britton said the app will help the people affected navigate through the crisis, whether it lasts minutes or days.

He said the company has sold almost 100 subscriptions, which range in price from a few thousand dollars a year to $15,000.

In Case of Crisis was created in 2012 by Anna Ryan, chief executive of Irving Burton Associates, based in Herndon. Ryan saw the need for access to emergency instructions on a mobile device after her team witnessed the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, was forced to evacuate offices because of an Anthrax scare and experienced an earthquake from the 16th floor of a high-rise office building.

Irving Burton Associates, a for-profit business with around 250 employees, provides support services for the federal government, particularly the Defense Department.

Blackboard, owned by Providence Equity Partners, was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in the District, with offices in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Lessons learned

Mike Norris has been sitting across the table, negotiating property leases with some of the biggest names in Washington for the past 15 years.

Norris, 34, a vice president of District-based Ezra Co., started negotiating leases as an intern at the University of Maryland. He estimates he has around 1,000 negotiations under his belt.

He has put some of those experiences into a self-published, 80-page book with the scintillating title of “Second Largest Expense: Leasing Solutions Per Square Foot.”

He has negotiated with everyone from the small, entrepreneurial landlord to the big guys such as Boston Properties, JBG Cos. and Corporate Office Properties Trust.

Most of his clients are chief executives and small-business owners (think physicians).

The book took six months to write and is $14 hardcover and $10 e-book. It is available on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.

“Most people call me up and say, ‘I don’t want to move. I want to renegotiate a better lease for where I am.’”

That’s when Norris goes to work.

I asked him to give me a couple of big takeaways from the book.

First, never approach a landlord and ask for a better deal. You are giving away the fact that you are a captive tenant.

Second, always hire a pro like Norris — no surprise there — to deal with the landlord. It sends the message that you know what you are doing.

The Buzz hears:

Jetties, food entrepreneur Bo Blair’s sandwich chainlet, has rented 1,500 square feet on Connecticut Avenue NW, just a few steps south of Chevy Chase Circle. The site, which was occupied by Homemade Pizza Co., will house the fifth Jetties location. The others are in Foxhall, downtown D.C., Cathedral Heights and Bethesda. The store is scheduled to open around Labor Day. Blair also owns Bayou, the Bullpen near Nationals Park, Smith Point, Surfside and Something Sweet.

The Buzz hears (CON’T):

Reston-based Network Alliance is partnering with the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants to provide education and consultation to the CPA group’s 11,000-plus members. A Webinar on “How to Select a Cloud IT Service Provider” is scheduled for next year.

J. Paul’s founder Paul J. Cohn, developer Bill Jarvis and ProFish’s Greg Casten finally are opening Boss Shepherd’s restaurant next to the Warner Theater at 13th and E streets NW. The goal is July 16. Think whiskey barrels, oysters and bold-faced names.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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