Warfare to welfare: digital ‘chaperone’ targets growth

Communicare247 is hoping to secure more clients after opening a Glasgow office. Picture: Alistair Pryde
Communicare247 is hoping to secure more clients after opening a Glasgow office. Picture: Alistair Pryde
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A former Royal Navy electronics engineer is expanding his company that develops systems to monitor “lone workers” and vulnerable people in their homes.

Tom Morton founded Communicare247 “from an attic in Dunoon” in 1998, having built up expertise in communications and electronic warfare with the Navy before moving on to set up a satellite ground station in Stranraer for the European Space Agency.

In the early 1990s, he moved into the mobile phone industry, working with the public and private sectors and helping to develop ways of transferring data over analogue networks.

“I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries, and my wife introduced me to a chap who was running an alarm-monitoring centre for the elderly,” Morton said.

“That’s where the seed was planted, and I started looking at better ways of delivering social care using mobile phones and emergency services responders. There were huge cultural and technological barriers, but I knew we could do this and make a change.”

Morton said he initially focused on care workers who were exposed to risks because they were working alone, and went on to gain the support of police. In 2009, his firm “took a big plunge” by investing £1.5 million in an alarm centre in Dunoon with support from Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the local council.

The centre is manned around the clock by Communicare247 staff, who help to monitor about 20,000 users, such as court bailiffs, forestry workers traffic wardens and NHS staff. Other clients include outsourcing giant Capita, Marie Curie and Stirling Council.

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Communicare247, which employs 14 people, recently opened an office on St Vincent Street in Glasgow with a view to winning more clients and attracting more skilled staff.

Morton said: “The new base gives us more access to the skills that are available in Glasgow and an opportunity to really expand the business by engaging with our customers.”