A police officer uses 10-8 Systems at a traffic stop.If someone near you has a heart attack, you witness a crime or see a fire break out, your instinct is likely to call 911. But will the dispatcher know the exact location to respond efficiently?

The emergency response system in the U.S. and other countries, while a lifesaver to thousands in crisis situations, is outdated, often focusing on the address, rather than the exact location – as measured in a few feet – within a campus, building or area.

Cal State Fullerton computer science student Bryan Ruef, working with Mihaylo College’s Center for Entrepreneurship, has launched 10-8 Systems, an affordable cloud-based computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for agencies of any size, whether law enforcement, private security, search and rescue, or emergency medical assistance, which helps ensure that first responders know the exact location of those they assist, through cell phone-based GPS technology, among other capabilities.

Already, Ruef’s brainchild has helped save hundreds of lives in the aftermath of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which devastated the northern Bahamas.

Ruef shares his motivation for developing 10-8 Systems and where he sees his innovation in the future.

What is the full low down on what 10-8 Systems can do? 

It’s a completely cloud-based system, so agencies don’t have to deal with the headache, or expense, of their own on premise servers. It is hosted in a secure cloud environment through Amazon Web Services’ GovCloud and is also fully responsive, so users can access it from anywhere, on any device. We also feature a patent pending cellphone locator system called Caller QuickFind. This allows dispatchers to locate callers within a matter of a couple feet using the GPS chip in their cellphone, a huge leap from current 911 technology using cell phone towers to triangulate. We also have a feature called AgencyLink, which allows agencies to quickly and securely add requests for service to agencies using 10-8 Systems, greatly improving public safety agency interoperability. We make the newest technologies available to any size department, not just the ones that can afford it.

What motivated you to devote yourself to this? 

I have spent the last eight years of my life in the emergency services industry. When I was a teenager, I volunteered for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and went on countless ride-alongs. Upon graduating high school, I became an emergency medical technician (EMT) and have been working in the emergency medical service industry since then, both as an EMT and an emergency dispatcher.

It always shocked me how the software for first responders was so outdated and didn’t work half the time. Despite this, these agencies were paying exorbitant amounts of money for software that only kind of worked. When I would go on ride-alongs with the sheriff’s department, we’d often open the computer in the car just to find out the software wasn’t working that day. Even when it did work, it was software designed by people who obviously had never worked in the public safety field, so it didn’t really fall into the normal work flow.

In an industry where lives are on the line, software should be an invaluable tool in helping them day to day. This is where I saw an opportunity to combine my passion for public safety with my passion for software and programming.

You participated in the CSUF Startup Incubator, which resulted in a first-place finish and provided funding and mentoring for your concept. Please share the timeline of the development of your concept and how the incubator was impactful along the way. 

Back in high school, I started a website for gamers who played police officers in video games. It was basically a mini-version of a dispatching system. It grew to more than 60,000 users and I noticed that real public safety agencies started signing up to try it out. This helped me to realize that people in the public safety industry were looking for something new and inexpensive compared to the outdated systems used.

In early 2018, I started building 10-8 Systems, a professional, feature-packed version of that gaming website. When it was ready to be released, I brought my brother in to help me with sales and general business operations. We officially launched and became incorporated on Jan. 1, 2019. By mid-April, we were being used by agencies in 28 states. Today, we are used in 41 states.

In April 2019, I competed in the CSUF Startup Competition and won first place. In preparation for this competition, I met with Associate Professor of Management Atul Teckchandani, the entrepreneur-in-residence for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He taught me basic business concepts to pitch my company to the judges who were local business leaders. After winning, we joined the Startup Incubator in June and were assigned to our advisor, Bill Van Vleet. He has run multiple technology-based companies and has provided invaluable advice in leading a technology company. We are now in 41 states and have been used to dispatch incidents in more than 1,200 cities.

Inside a police car, an officer uses 10-8 Systems on a laptop.

Where do you see 10-8 Systems in the future?

In three to five years, we’re looking to expand to international markets and continue to integrate cutting-edge technology throughout different areas of public safety, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. We’re also hoping to expand our market to large agencies. Currently, our focus is on small- to medium-sized public safety agencies.

More than 500 people (and counting) impacted by Hurricane Dorian were rescued or saved with the help of your software. What are your thoughts on this?

It’s pretty crazy to think our software has had such a meaningful impact in only a few months.

As hard and sad as it was to see what the people of the Bahamas were going through, it was an incredible feeling to know I was doing something to help, even though I was thousands of miles away. For example, at one point during the rescue operations, the main method of communications for a search and rescue group went down. With cell phone service down, they had to fall back on 10-8 Systems’ chat messaging feature as their sole source of communications between the search and rescue teams and their dispatch. Without 10-8 Systems, they would’ve been left completely in the dark, without a way to communicate with each other.

We’ve been contacted by organizations ranging from security to search-and-rescue across the world, such as in Africa, Australia, Canada, the European Union and Caribbean countries. We’re looking to expand in 2020 and beyond once we’re more established here in the U.S. and we can better support the international community.

Bryan Ruef, founder of 10-8 Systems, stands in front of the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia, California.

Bryan Ruef in front of the CSUF Startup Incubator in Placentia, where he incubated his brainchild, 10-8 Systems, that is helping to save lives worldwide.

What advice would you give to students or others considering entrepreneurships? How can they get started? 

Find something you have a passion for and create your opportunity within that. Because this is something I’m so passionate about, it’s such a great feeling to know I’m helping to improve this industry and bring modern technology into the hands of our first responders. It won’t ever feel like work when it’s something that you personally care about. This goes for everyone at CSUF, too! Just because you’re not a business student doesn’t mean you can’t be an entrepreneur in your field of study.

For More Information

For more on 10-8 Systems, visit the company online. To contact Ruef personally, such as to collaborate or offer support, or if you are an agency client, email him and the 10-8 Systems team at contact@10-8systems.com.

For more on the Mihaylo College entrepreneurship program, including undergraduate and graduate coursework in entrepreneurship and opportunities for individualized consulting for your concept through the CSUF Startup Incubator, visit the Center for Entrepreneurship online. Or read more of our articles on entrepreneurship.