Vigilant allows journalists to search and monitor thousands of public record databases simultaneously
Vigilant is a public data access platform for live search and monitoring of public data sets. They won the ‘Investigating public data’ battle of our Startups for News competition and will pitch at the GEN Summit 2018 in front of over 750 industry leaders.
What did you do prior to launching Vigilant Web?
Mike Philips: Before we started Vigilant, I’d worked for ten years doing research, investigations, and due diligence on campaigns. After that, I worked at a consulting firm I started. I’d spent a lot of time searching through all of these individual public records data sets that we deal with now — one by one, over and over again. The information I needed to access was buried in hundreds of different silos, and it could take hours to pull it all together — or to even know if it was there in the first place.
As I grew that small firm, I was lucky enough to get to hire some really, really smart people who would then spend their time doing the same things I had — finding all the databases we needed to search, searching them manually, and checking them one by one by one. They were doing all this rather than the things smart folks should be doing, which is making sense of the data and figuring out what’s important. I thought this was a bit crazy, and that’s why we started building Vigilant — a way to help folks access and use public data to be better informed about the world we live in.
What problem are you trying to address for newsrooms?
There’s more and more public data and public records information available online, but it’s silo-ed in lots of different databases, and it is difficult to access, monitor, and use. It represents a tremendous resource, and — often — a huge missed opportunity.
How are you attempting to solve the problems described above?
Vigilant integrates streams of data from thousands of public records databases — at the local, state, national, and international level. We are able to integrate and monitor new records across pretty much any public records database.
Using the platform is made easy as we deliver updates to your team where they already are — on Slack or via email, on mobile or on desktop. They can subscribe to the streamlined channels and feeds that are relevant to them.
These data feeds can also be used to form the backbone of new alerting and news automation products, giving our partners feeds of localised and structured data for the sources and information they need. Some of our partners are already leveraging Vigilant to deliver automated news briefs to their audiences. Technical.ly, for instance, is using our platform to be alerted to — and publish news briefs on new start-up financing in the markets they serve.
What sets you apart from your competitors? List three elements.
- The range and flexibility of data sources we can integrate and monitor — which means we can integrate data from virtually any data source;
- Highly-current new record detection, which helps our customers detect new records quickly;
- Ease of use — new records are delivered directly to end users (reporters, editors, etc), with key data points clearly parsed and organised.
What is your business model?
We generate revenue by selling SaaS licenses of our data access platform to partners, including newsrooms, public affairs companies, advocacy organisations and campaigns, and the financial services industry.
What are your next steps?
We have a very ambitious product roadmap ahead of us: dramatically expanding the number of source integrations as well as adding additional layers of translation and intelligence onto the records that we monitor. This will help make this information more accessible and also add additional insights.
We’re also building additional tools to make it easy for our partners to distribute alerts directly to their audiences via different channels — including their CMS, Slack, email, and other messenger bots.