Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Convergence of Emergency Voice and Data

 By Lori MacVittie, Senior Technical Marketing Manager

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

None of my adult children have a land line. It is unlikely they ever will – or will even consider it. They’re millennials, and grew up in a digital world where phones are mobile, kept in your pocket, and used for texting and social networking and web access, not calling mom to see how she’s doing.

It’s unlikely that they – or others sharing their view on communications – have considered what that means to their ability to obtain emergency services should they need them.

When organizations first started moving toward a converged network comprising both voice and data, the uproar over emergency services was heard loud and clear. Emergency service systems were designed to tag phone numbers to specific addresses for rapid response, based on the premise that a physical wire actually connected the phone to a location.

But that’s no longer the case. The increasingly unwired nature of technology ignores that premise and ultimately breaks the system. E911 was developed to address this disconnect and systems were added that were able to use geo-location through techniques such as triangulation as a means to pinpoint an address. VoIP complicated things yet again, and the sometimes inaccurate databases tying IP addresses to locations frustrated implementers. The addition of tablets and Wi-Fi-enabled phones only serves to exacerbate the difficulties emergency services has with trying to identify the location of a caller in need of assistance. Though most phones and tablets are enabled with GPS, the data from which could be used to solve this problem, many users are reluctant to allow any application to share that data or have turned off the functionality because of its tendency to draw too much power and drain battery reserves faster than they can update Facebook.

In North America, location is determined by querying the automation location information database, maintained by third parties (typically the ILEC). Data from the ALI can be used to route the call to the appropriate local authorities as well as determine the location of the caller. Except the way in which the ALI is updated is not necessarily compatible with mobility. It’s not necessarily updated in real time, which means despite the availability of up-to-date GPS coordinates from most mobile devices, a call to emergency services might tag you as being at home, when you’re really at the local Dunkin Donuts.

That’s a problem, and one that’s increasing as VoIP becomes more popular as a means to communicate, especially for millennials. VoIP even on mobile phones is common with the next generation, and the rising popularity of tablets (which do not come with phone numbers) encourages the use of such peer-to-peer (especially as they’re generally free) communications.

There is a growing need to find a longer-term solution to the problem of locating a caller that is accurate in real-time across both the IP and traditional carrier space. A more modern solution may require a radical change in the networking layer to support the inevitable transition of more and more communications to a digital format.

Perhaps we can take a cue from the lowest levels of the networking stack and geo-stamp packets much as we timestamp them. Perhaps there’s a need for a new Ethernet type, the E911 type, which clearly indicates packets carry time-sensitive, critical calls for help.

A more network-oriented solution – given that almost all emergency traffic flows over networks today – may be the answer to resolving the disconnect between the two worlds. Giving infrastructure the ability to geo-stamp a specific traffic type may provide the best answer, given the preponderance of availability of such data from devices whether accessing services over the Internet or a carrier’s cellular network. The emergence of LTE makes this possibility even more likely – and achievable – given the convergence under the covers of voice and data running on the same network.

It seems feasible, then, that network infrastructure play some role in ensuring that calls for help – whether via VoIP, SMS, or cellular – be identifiable when mixed in among traffic carrying status updates and streaming video of cats dancing to the latest Lady Gaga tune.

 Lori MacVittie is senior technical marketing manager at F5 Networks (www.f5.com).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Marketing Services


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Three Ideas to Get Your Business Back "Out There"! 

I've spoken with so many business owners and managers who are tired of being in "hunker down" mode until the economy improves. They talk about spending most of their time just trying to get enough sales in the door to stay reasonably healthy. Some have taken a sort of checkerboard marketing approach, trying a little bit of this and that to grab another customer. They've been hammered by the economy and they are still weathering the storm.

Most of us agree that the economy will come back regardless of who becomes president this next month. We all have our opinions as to who will bring it back more quickly, but we keep our eyes open for the light at the end of the tunnel.

What can you do as a business, to reaffirm your value and "get out there" to compete effectively, as the economy thaws and buyers start looking for things to buy again? Here are a few ideas that most small businesses agree won't break the bank and will have a net positive effect:
  1. The Plan: You've probably drifted a bit with your focus and messaging to get business in the door. Get the team together and spend a few hours going back over your plan. Lots of things can change in a couple of years.  Make adjustments, reaffirm your unique value, and adjust your corporate descriptions and whatever else needs to be adjusted. 

  1. Distribute Content: Now to the get back "out there" part. Let people know you're still very much around. Start by checking out your website. Is it fresh or stale? Get some fresh content on the pages and make sure they are search-engine-friendly. Start a short newsletter. Keep it simple, interesting and brand reflective.    

  1. Customer Voice: When was the last time you did a customer case story? Reach out to customers who are happy with your product. These "stories" can be used in all areas of your marketing.
Don't put this on the back burner until after the holiday season. Start it now! And, you know I can help you with it. Do these things and, come January, you'll be in a better position to meet the New Year head on, and the new competitors that may come with it!

Susan Saldibar Marketing, provides expert marketing consulting and services to small-mid sized businesses who are serious about growing to the next level, but want to avoid hiring a full time marketing executive. We help them get the results they thought were out of reach, by re-aligning their marketing actions to put their product in front of their ideal customer.  Check out my PR/Social Media Package to jumpstart or re-start your PR and social media! 

Did you know that I offer a 1-hour free consultation? I follow it up with an outline that provides immediate value to your business, identifying some things you can do immediately to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities. I also have two new packages for website revamping and social media. I'm happy to share them with you. Drop me an email at info@susansaldibar.com or call me at 714 757-3082. 

The "trick" is to do it right the first time; the "treat" is a growing customer list! 

 "The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."
  ~ Henry Ford