Bryan Ruef Talks about Creating a Business To Improve Public Safety


Bryan Ruef is the founder of the technology software company 10-8 Systems, designed to improve the quality of dispatch units for public safety professionals of all types, from police forces to fire departments to search and rescue task forces. Bryan has always been passionate about public safety. At age 14 he volunteered at the local sheriff department on weekends. He later became an EMT, and then an ambulance dispatcher. One common thread he noticed from his experiences in all of three of these areas is that the software that was being used, such as the out-of-date, half-functional CAD/RMS, just didn’t work. Across the board, the software was old, it crashed, and it didn’t hold up under fire when it needed to. Bryan wondered if it was just a local issue in his hometown of Orange County, California, so he did some research and found that it was a major problem everywhere. He even discovered that the entire Los Angeles police department was using an ancient dispatch system that was developed back in the 80s. Bryan wondered how this could be possible, especially for such an important area as public safety. Surely there was a software system out there that could work better? But there wasn’t. So, in classic entrepreneurial fashion, he saw a problem and created a solution for it. He made his own.

“They told me that over 650 lives were saved during Hurricane Dorian, thanks to 10-8 Systems. That changed everything.” -Bryan Ruef


Bryan’s other passion, alongside public safety, was computers. A computer science student, he created his first website while in middle school. By merging his two passions, he was able to develop a practical, efficient solution to the problem of slow, ineffective dispatch communication systems, a company he named 10-8 Systems, after the “10-8” police code, which means “in service.” A fitting title for a business that is designed to be of service to those who, in turn, are of service to others. Now the challenge would be convincing government-run agencies to give his high-tech bur largely unknown dispatching design a chance.

Selling to the Government vs a Private Business

One of the biggest challenges that lay ahead for Bryan was how to get in bed with government-run agencies. “With a private business, they like your idea, write you a check, and leave it on the desk,” he says. “But with federal agencies there are a lot more steps, multiple levels of approval, and just a much longer process overall.” So what does he suggest for how to sell to the federal government? Surprisingly, it’s very much the same strategy as a private business. “It’s still very much about who you know,” he says. Developing solid relationships by being genuine and passionate about your business opens new doors. 

Bryan said one major difference was that, in his case, social media ads were not the way to go. The biggest challenge was finding people to join his team to help it grow, people who genuinely wanted to help. “A lot of people out there will promise you the world, and then disappear,” he says. Part of the work of a beginner entrepreneur is finding out who is genuine and who isn’t. Eventually he was able to build out a team who all had the same core vision, and that was key. Not just people who wanted to help startups, but people who were passionate about law enforcement and public safety.

The Breakthrough

10-8 Systems’ major breakthrough came when it got FEMA on board. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, used Bryan’s software with search and rescue dispatch teams during Hurricane Dorian, and the result was a game-changer. “They bought my software on a Thursday, and by Friday they were using it,” he says. Predictably, FEMA’s old system crashed during Hurricane Dorian, but they were still able to use 10-8 Systems to dispatch the Coast Guard and other rescue units to save people who were stranded in the disaster--over 650 by their count. The publicity and testimonials that came out of that took 10-8 to the next level. At the end of the day, the old systems still weren’t working, but 10-8 did. And in a time of crisis, that meant lives were saved.

What Makes 10-8 Systems Different

Some of the main elements that makes 10-8 different from older systems are the following:

  • Computer-Aided Dispatch. This includes integrated mapping, chat messaging, and automated SMS paging.
  • Mobile Data Terminal. This includes an emergency button, self-initiated callouts, and remote status changes.
  • Records Management System. This includes in-field reporting, persons/vehicle database, and daily activity logs.
  • Entirely Cloud Based. Accessible from virtually any device with an internet connection, this bypasses the need for on-site servers.

To learn more about 10-8 Systems, visit the website where you can sign up for a free demo or reach the team by phone or email.

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