School safety has been at the forefront of the news as recent school shootings in Santa Fe and Parkland occur more frequently. Students say they do not feel safe at school but threats to public safety can and do occur in other venues. Theaters, concerts, churches and the workplace have all become targets. Safety is on everyone’s mind and one Gorham grad, Jason Roberts (GHS ’95), is actively working to help schools, businesses and other places where people gather become safer.
After graduation and an honorable discharge from the Marines, Roberts was hired by Norris Inc, New England’s leading security system company. Norris provides access control, video surveillance, fire alarm, intrusion detection, and communication systems. Roberts worked his way up through the ranks and is currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He is also CEO of Vigilance Emergency Notification Software, a start-up company he launched in 2014 after designing software which integrates with, and enhances, security systems already in place in a variety of different settings.
Norris and Vigilance have customers such as malls or large stores that are open to foot traffic from Maine to California, in the fields of Education, Healthcare and Commerce. In Maine, Vigilance is helping to protect students and faculty in the Windham Raymond School District, and workers and the public in the town of Gray, the City of Augusta, and at LL Bean.
GHS grads Jason Roberts and his wife, Becky, run a start-up company called Vigilance Emergency Notification Software.
Robert’s decision to launch a start-up software company was carefully planned and executed. He spent months building the Vigilance software prototype which was then rolled out in presentations to groups of first responders, school officials and business executives. Attendees at these meetings were very interested, and more importantly, they offered specific ideas that helped Roberts refine and improve the software.
Roberts said, “Vigilance is a solution ahead of its time. It is built for our customers, and in many cases, by our customers.” Roberts explained what makes Vigilance stand out. “Most of our competition operates solely in the notification space. We offer that as well with as a Systems Integrations Engine that leverages, controls, and communicates with other security systems on the premise.”
In layman’s terms, in case of a threat from fire, bombs or individuals armed with guns, one person using Vigilance can initiate Facility Lockdown, securing any unlocked exterior doors. They can release specific doors holders, thus securing and/or isolating interior sections of the building. Vigilance sends out phone calls, emails and texts to the appropriate population and alerts first responders (police, fire and rescue). It runs directly on a Mac or PC offering both the reliability of premise software and also the convenience of running on the cloud.
So how did Roberts, a kid from small-town Gorham, become CEO of two companies before the age of 40? His career path was unique, but thoughtfully chosen. Spurred by drafting classes he took at Westbrook Vocational School, Roberts initially intended to pursue studies in Architectural design. After some serious self-reflection, Roberts decided he was not yet disciplined enough to focus on a college education. Instead, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp. where he was able to continue his education in general studies and pursue more technical training as well.
Boot camp and combat training were followed by Military Occupational Speciality training at Camp Geiger as a Combat Engineer. “I was deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participating in Operation Silver Wake (evacuating American citizens and Third Country Nationals) from Albania, and Operation Guardian Retrieval, staging forces in the Congo,” he said.
After returning from deployment, Roberts reunited with his high school sweetheart, Becky Brown (GHS ’94) who was also a Marine. They married about a year later and both were later honorably discharged.
Roberts said of his childhood in Gorham, “Times were much simpler back then. I grew up near the Gorham/ Standish line, near Nicely’s Market that offered the best Meatball Sub that ever existed.” He enjoyed being outdoors cruising the neighborhood on bikes from sun up to sundown, endless games of wiffle ball, and later, working on car stereo systems with his friends.
Becky is the Customer Relations Manager at Norris Inc. They live in Windham where they raised two daughters: one is in college and one is a senior at Windham High School.
In their spare time, the Roberts enjoy cruising the waters of Sebago Lake and “attempting to master the brutal game of golf.” To learn more about Vigilance, visit www.vigilancesoftware.com, or Norris, visit www.norrisinc.com. To contact Jason: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone: 1-207-221-8805; Cell: 1-207-939-3504.
Norris, Inc.—a South Portland, Maine, based life-safety and security integrator with satellite offices in Bangor, Maine; Lee, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont—was founded nearly 40 years ago by two brothers, Brad and Harty Norris. The brothers remain on the board of directors today and continue to help steer the enterprise toward its goal of advancing life-safety and security, and communications while striving to grow in its status as Northern New England’s leading systems integrator. Norris provides fully integrated life-safety and security solutions, comprising disparate systems including fire alarm, intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, emergency notification and communications.