Employee Spotlight: Jeff Ericson
Our team at Peregrine is made up of dedicated individuals with deep law enforcement experience and technologists committed to supporting public safety. We will be periodically highlighting what makes Peregrine most special – the people. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Jeff Ericson is a Software Developer at Peregrine. Jeff joined the team in early 2021 and has been integral to developing some of the most-used features in Peregrine. Read on to find out what those features are, along with 5 questions for Jeff.
Can you tell us a bit about your professional background and what you do at Peregrine?
Before joining Peregrine, I worked at Mapbox for a year and Tableau for six years before that. At Mapbox, I worked on APIs that returned different flavors of static maps at scale. During my time at Tableau, I was lucky enough to work on data visualization features — the core of their product. I worked on various chart interactions and then worked on creating “Ask Data”, which lets you use natural language instead of the traditional drag-and-drop model.
That experience lends itself well to what I do at Peregrine. We’re a smaller team, so we all do a lot of different things, but my main focus has been on our map and charts applications.
These features are foundational to our platform and how our customers use Peregrine. Our maps are easily configurable and dynamic; one customer may use maps for real-time incident response, identifying where responding officers and the potential suspect are, and share that information with officers in the field so they can coordinate with each other. Others might use the platform to inform high-level departmental operations, like patrol schedules and resource allocation.
Our charts app is similarly configurable and has a wide range of use cases. Some departments use Peregrine to create summaries of key metrics for its Command Staff – calls for service and response times cross-referenced with priority, arrests by location and type, or other attributes. Command Staff then use Peregrine to drill down into those data points to understand what’s causing them and can make operational changes accordingly to keep their communities safe.
What made you want to join Peregrine?
I wanted to join a company that’s solving a unique, important problem with a civic impact. When I was looking around, I found a lot of civic-minded organizations with engineering as a secondary focus. Peregrine is special in that sense – it’s an engineering-first company that applies cutting-edge technology to improve public safety for cities and states across America.
When I first met the engineering team, I got “humble, smart” vibes, and was impressed by their technical focus. We’re able to spend the majority of our time coding and thinking about the product. We make a point to keep meetings to a minimum.
Explain a unique technical challenge or problem you’ve worked on during your time at Peregrine.
Maps in Peregrine, as I mentioned, are incredibly flexible and dynamic. Users can have several different pieces of information on a map, many of which needs to be updated in real-time. And our customers need to be able to configure the map to meet their needs.
Making sure maps can handle various types of data that can be styled and layered correctly is a hard technical challenge. Data from different sources and with different geometries – everything from district boundaries to parcel data to schools, police units, and shopping malls – can all be incorporated together on the same map. It’s been challenging but crucial to think of the right abstractions for this data, the different styling options, and the various map interactions, to allow for an enormous diversity of use cases.
Dataconomy has a good explanation of abstractions: Abstraction is the process of creating a bird’s-eye view of a system, allowing programmers to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Abstraction plays a fundamental role in computer science, providing the necessary building blocks for creating modular, efficient, and reusable code.
And I think this speaks to our engineering culture. We could add each new request or feature as a point solution to our codebase, but the result months or years down the line would be an unwieldy codebase that could be harder to augment with new user requests and more prone to bugs.
Because we’re supporting law enforcement and other public safety agencies, our work can quite literally be lifesaving. We must build our technology such that it will be robust for long-term use. We’re constantly working to synthesize new use cases and data sources into cohesive features that allow our customers to configure the platform the way they need to.
The overall ethos of the team is mature – we strive to move quickly to respond to customer feedback and needs while ensuring we set ourselves up for success in the future. We’re building Peregrine for the long term, and fundamentally believe the work we’re doing and the platform we’re developing can improve the lives of many people.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to join Peregrine?
Our work culture places great emphasis on individual autonomy and the entrepreneurial spirit. Ben and Nick, our CTO and CEO, ensure that we all feel a sense of ownership with what we’re working on. Trust is placed in each engineer to own their products and vision.
This open-ended structure might be daunting for some engineers who prefer a well-defined problem with checkpoints. However, for those who thrive in this environment, it’s incredibly liberating and empowering. Each team member has the agency to build the feature they believe makes the most sense based on user feedback and requests.
Lastly, what superpower would you say you bring to Peregrine?
I’ve always valued being part of something bigger than myself. Having grown up playing sports, I understand the importance of teams working harmoniously and how it can elevate everyone’s contributions. I believe that a cohesive team can accomplish more than the sum of its parts.
I always strive to uplift the team, prioritize team needs, and adopt a ‘team-first’ attitude. Whether it’s about efficient communication, jumping on urgent tasks, or striving for collective understanding, I find that putting the team first leads to better outcomes.
Do you want to be a part of a mission-driven team, creating real, meaningful change?
Do you want to take ownership of your work and contribute to the development of some of the most-used features in our platform?
Join us in our mission to make cities safer across the U.S.
Check out our open roles and start your journey with Peregrine today. Together, let’s build the future of public safety technology.