Tacoma Emergency Response Tech Forged by Fire

University of Washington Tacoma Spinout Namatad Helps Save Firefighters in ‘Mayday’ Scenarios, Police & Military Special Operations

When firefighters step into a burning building today, they step back in time to face the same perils endured by firefighters from the 1800’s. The same is true of police or military special operations entering a new building, blind to who’s inside and to the dimensions of rooms and conditions they might encounter. Current technology is of little help to the first person through the door of an unfamiliar building, according to Namatad, Inc Founder and CEO Matt Tolentino.

Tolentino is on a mission to change that after a  military career in the Navy and intelligence at the Department of Defense. Following his military service, he earned a PhD and currently teaches Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Washington Tacoma.

His startup journey began with one Tacoma connection and one critical question. “The openness in Tacoma to connect and support emerging tech is unique. That I’d even have the chance to talk directly with a fire chief of a large department was very ‘Tacoma.’ Pat Beard, the Business Development Manager at City of Tacoma, set up a meeting with the Chief and some of the Assistant Chiefs,” said Tolentino. “I asked ‘What keeps you up at night?’ Four weeks later we were working on a solution for a ‘Mayday’ scenario for firefighters trapped or disoriented in a burning building and needing
to be rescued.”

Tolentino set out to produce a prototype to identify firefighters’ locations inside burning buildings. “We failed for a full year, while learning all the ways not to build something,” Tolentino said.

He kept innovating while beginning to build the connective tissue of a military tech community in Tacoma and Pierce County. He met with other startups founded by military veterans, including Pierce County juggernaut Wind Talker Innovations, and emerging Tacoma startup Ivy Data. “We talk or have beers regularly to share ideas and resources and begin to build community. We’re also seeing the talent pipeline of engineers coming from the University of Washington Tacoma or transitioning from nearby Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) and we’re excited about growing our startups here.”

Namatad’s platform solution FireFly is a cost-effective system that integrates indoor location tracking, environmental sensing, and real time analytics to increase situational awareness and operational visibility, and keep personnel safe in the line of duty. Varying versions of the FireFly system are curated with specific needs and goals in mind. Namatad now provides support for fire departments, law enforcement and military teams, bringing innovative FireFly technology to the most dangerous situations.

Namatad has received a new wave of funding, including more than a million dollars from the U.S. Army to develop its technology for special forces units like those at JBLM.

Tolentino is now growing his team in Tacoma where one connection, one question and a growing community of veteran-led startups led him to see the Tacoma-Pierce County technology ecosystem in a new way. “It’s very open. I couldn’t have made the strides I did otherwise. There’s an emerging energy in Tacoma for starting tech companies. We see a massive potential to develop and grow a startup with military roots right here.”

To learn more about Namatad, Inc. go to www.namatad.com. Follow Namatad, Inc. on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Track the successes and plug into the startup ecosystem in Tacoma and Pierce County on LinkedIn by following Startup253. You can read this story and learn more about the Tacoma-Pierce County Technology Cluster online at www.edbTacomaPierce.org/technology.

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