How PlanetRisk Predicts the Future With Big Data

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Richard Maclean

Richard Maclean

Managing Partner

January 27, 2016
Frontier News

Big data is a window to the future if you have the right tools. Projecting any threats that might arise in the future and offering ways to stop them is exactly how McLean, V.A.-based PlanetRisk uses the power of advanced data collection, visualization and analysis.

"It's a holistic look at risk for government and industry," said PlanetRisk CEO (and University of Maryland alumnus) Paul McQuillan in an interview with DC Inno. "We turn the raw data into real intelligence and solutions."

McQuillan assumed the role of CEO at PlanetRisk when the company merged with Bethesda-based iMapData, of which he was previously CEO. PlanetRisk's CEO Mark Dumas, who founded the company about a year ago, is now chief strategy officer. The combined company is moving into iMapData's headquarters despite going with the PlanetRisk name.

"We combined the technology and the people," Dumas said. "iMapData's software looks at what is going on right now and what threats exists. PlanetRisk adds onto that what could happen next and where."

PlanetRisk is looking to possibly break through $100 million in revenue this year, with another merger possible before the end of 2016. PlanetRisk has a bit less than 100 members of staff and is keeping an eye out for talent to add."We're looking for a lot of smart people," Dumas said.

The company's clients are a mix of 80 percent federal agencies and 20 percent commercial enterprises McQuillan said. Using a mix of data from public, proprietary and PlanetRisk's specialty sources,the company can analyze current and likely future situations in terms of risks and threats to people and facilities. The software acts in real time too, making the suggestions for improvement much more immediate.

Weather, supply access, crime and terrorism are some of the kinds of concerns that PlanetRisk's clients are concerned about. But, it's not as though the data can pinpoint an exact date or incident. Rather, the data can help outline the most likely scenarios and prepare for them.

"We manage local risk," McQuillan said. "It's not going to say if there will be a purse-snatching, but it will say here are the top 20 locations with a significant relative risk for these types of incidents in the next month."

Once those probabilities are assessed, the best and most cost-effective solutions can be drawn up and deployed, and the reach of the company's data is worldwide. It's the combination of both aspects of the analytics and the spread it encompasses that makes the company stand out, McQuillan and Dumas said.

"What we do has a global perspective," McQuillan said. "And it's built on a big data framework."

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