Archive for the 'Contextual directory' Category

ccAlert is the exclusive mass notification service for the Georgia State Firefighters Association

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I just wanted to put up a quick note about our company’s recent marketing alliance with the Georgia State Firefighter’s Association.  Our product, ccAlert, will be the exclusive mass notification service for the association.  more information on our mass notification is below:

ccAlert is a mass notification service that offers emergency responders the ability to keep in touch with others via a single message. The service allows an individual to send a web-based message to an individual or a group of individuals via the devices that people have (e.g., mobile phone, pager, email). Messages can be mass alerts to notify members of an emergency such as a fire or a non-emergency note for an open shift change.

The solution:

  • does not require any additional hardware or software
  • provides secure, rapid communication
  • allows communication across multiple departments
  • sends messages based on levels of priority
  • provides customized teams and groups
  • allows multiple devices per individual
  • enables security through CCL’s patented contextual database

More on the Microsoft Echoes initiative

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Microsoft is making some noise within the global directory area with more announcements of its Echoes initiative.  According to Mary Joe Foley, the platform will provide the following:

  • Syncs address book contacts over the air
  • Ensure that IM messages work seamlessly with SMS
  • Windows Live Messenger contacts get local numbers
  • Voice calls from Messenger on PC to mobiles
  • Offer some sort of presence

The platform will be similar to Skype and Google’s GrandCentral services.  The end goal, however, needs to be the ability to ‘find and connect’ one another without providing actual phone numbers – essentially allow people to connect via contextual listings (like email addresses, unique listings) and eliminate the need for phone numbers

Microsoft’s push to eliminate phone numbers

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My colleague Rod Drury sent me this link on Microsoft’s goal to remove phone numbers as the main way of communicating.  Totally agree – one should be able to find others based on the context they know them and allow the individual to control how they are connected. 

http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1420

Context Connect gets another patent on private directory-based connectivity

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Context Connect gets another US patent on private directory-based connectivity (US Patent #7,340,048 – A System and Method for Directory Services and eCommerce Across Multi-Provider Networks).  The patent allows for basic connectivity calls and ecommerce transactions to take place across multiple service providers, without revealing the individuals’ contact details or information.  Given all it privacy issues surrounding an individuals’ personal details, the patent is focused on protecting one’s privacy while allow basic transactions to take place – such as a simple call to another person – calling people based on names, rather than phone numbers.

Google to store patient records

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Google announced today that it has begun storing patient records for a few thousand individuals at Cleveland Clinic.  These health records will include prescription information, allergies and medical histories and will be protected through a password-based system, which will also allow patients to have access to Google email and search tools.

The key reason for Google’s entry in the space is to expand its search capabilities, moving beyond public environments (searching on the net) to more private situations.   While it is not entirely clear how Google plans to make money from its health service, its strategy of providing more searches through its technology is always the company’s first focus. 

Not surprisingly, others have also joined the fray including Microsoft, through its HealthVault and AOL founder Steve Case through Revolution Health.   Yet, the key issue for many privacy groups is that much of this information is not covered by HIPPA, which potentially opens to door for these companies to utilize the information for other purposes, beyond simple private access by patients to their own information. 

Another private directory services and connectivity patent for our company

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Congrats to our firm, Context Connect, on getting another patent around the private directory and connectivity space – European Patent #EP1301887 – A System and Method for Directory Services and eCommerce Across Multi-Provider Networks.  The patent is focused on the ability to ‘find and connect’ individuals without requiring or needing the actual contact number (e.g., phone number) through a DNS-based contextual platform.  The patent extends to directory-based connectivity calls as well as electronic transactions or eCommerce via mobile devices.   

The patent describes methods for providing secure connectivity across disparate networks or service providers.  Contextual, DNS-based directory listings are created by consumers or groups, while connectivity to individuals is made without revealing valuable customer information and data – thus ensuring a more appropriate way of getting connected (self provisioned contextual listings) through a private-based platform (no phone numbers revealed).  The patent covers directory assistance/enquiry listings by consumers and merchants that do not reveal actual connectivity details like DNS-like registrar services.

Mass notification service – beta testing..

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For those interested in a private mass notification service, my company is beta testing our alert tool, ccAlert, that allows individuals to send communication messages to another individual or a group of individuals, via the communication devices they have (e.g., email, mobile phone).  Messages can be mass alerts to notify members of an emergency or a can be a simple notification of a change in meeting time.  if you interesting in trialing a mass notification and messaging service for free (whether your a business, community group , or a fire squad), one should visit www.ccalert.net.

ccAlert.jpg

The lack of a communication alert system at our schools

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The tragedy at Virginia Tech early this week continues to highlight a glaring problem at many of our school campuses and surrounding neighborhoods: we lack an effective directory service that provides real-time alerts and notifications to individuals within a given community.  Its been reported that there was a major 2 hour gap between the first shooting and an email that was finally sent by the administrators to students and members of the Virginia Tech community.  A simple message to the community immediately after such an event could possibly have saved some lives.  The power of information here would have save lives, I believe.

The structure of a directory needs to incorporate the appropriate communication devices that people have, not just an email address.  It also must be easy to use and real-time.  I worry that if we continue to ignore the lack of such a system, we will see more of these incidences, not just at our schools, but within our own communities.  If this can have in such a serene place like Virginia Tech, it can happen anywhere. 

As this topic has been my focus for the past seven years, for those interested, our company, Context Connect, actually provides a free mass alert and notification service to any community that needs instant connectivity, whether its a school or volunteer fire squad.  Please email me if you are interested – sunny@contextconnect.com

Are we running out of phone numbers?

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This question was posed to me a few days ago and I did some digging to find out the answer, here in the US.  For years, there had been some debate over whether we were headed to a situation where these 10 digit numbers were going to have to be increased by a digit or two, particularly given the explosion of mobile phones and second lines in the home. 

Here some basic math on the numbers available.  According to the FCC, it turns out that each area code in the US has approximately 8 million numbers available.  Currently there are about 660 area codes available in North America, with over 300 areas currently in use.  Thus, there is approximately 5.3 billion potential numbers available, based on 660 area codes.  Thats a lot of numbers.

So why the problem.  The problem in the past has been that telco providers bought telephone numbers in 10,000 blocks.   Thus if a provider only used 100 numbers, there were 9,900 numbers that went unused.  Well, they finally got smart and pooled the unused numbers.  Therefore, the short answer is that we are not in immediate danger of running out of phone numbers.  Although I still question why we haven’t moved to a more DNS-based structure to deal with these hard to remember, 10 digit numbers, that in many ways are very personal and private to us.

Another directory service business sold

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As expected, Telecom New Zealand sold its yellow page directory business to Canadian investors for USD $1.59 billion last week.  The investors were a private equity consortium of CCMP Capital and Teachers’ Private Capital, the investment arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan of Canada.  As stated before, the tremendous need for cash has many telcos looks to sell off cash rich divisions.  I continue to think that such a strategy in the long run is very short-sighted.