Migrating from on-premise IP-PBX to Hosted IP-PBX

 

Telephony services have come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell’s (and others) initial invention back in the late 19th century. Past revolutionizing the way the world interacts and communicates socially, they have completely transformed the way we do business. In modern day, for example, it is no longer a necessity to have a dedicated resource in-house to manage and maintain the network, ultimately enabling businesses to see immediate benefits when they migrate to a hosted IP-PBX system. But before we get into modern IP-PBX systems, let’s quickly go through its history.

Quick History of the PBX

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. However, before the PBX, there was the PABX (private automatic branch exchange). PABX was invented in the 60s and allowed internal traffic within a company to occur without any (human) operator “switching” traffic manually. It seems job automation has been occurring for a long time, way before the invention of artificial intelligence (AI).

Many companies invested heavily in their own internal infrastructure and were not ready to embrace the new PBX system, despite the many features it provided. So, that forced PBX manufacturers to be more innovative by making it easier to integrate with older telephony systems. It goes without saying that the PBX (of the 1980s) revolutionized the call center.

Features of PBX Systems

The auto-attendant feature was one of the first features of the PBX system. Furthermore, the PBX was connected to PCs, which made call handling even simpler. It allowed call centers to speak to customers one to one while other calls were being routed to their required destinations.

Many companies, both small and large, began installing the PBX because it allowed them to increase revenue through increased pre-sales and after-sales activities. PBX manufacturers re-invested these profits into research and development, and by the 1990s, we had digital PBXs performing more functions than ever before – until the arrival of the IP-PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange).

Features of IP-PBX Systems

As a natural progression from analog to digital, then the Internet age, IP-PBX began to rely heavily on software. That meant that voice calls, emails, and faxes could now be streamlined into one system. The IP-PBX system is extremely efficient, allowing everything to be easily programmable and set up by individual users. Users could ask their calls to “follow them” to certain locations within their company, or even be routed to their mobile devices. Voicemail could be delivered as a transcribed email. And even though installing and maintaining an IP-PBX on-site became cheaper and more streamlined, it wasn’t long until cloud services began to become a dominant force with the option of having a hosted/managed IP-PBX system.

The Cloud and Hosted Services

Today we have many software companies offering their services over the cloud. The cloud just means your software is managed/accessed over the Internet and not from within your organization. Salesforce, for example, was one of the first successful Software as a Service (SaaS) companies. But cloud services, in general, took a long time to catch on. Most companies were against the concept of not having critical software and data stored and accessed on premises.

The concept of shifting costs from Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) to Operational Expenditures (OPEX) became a topic of debate. And while larger companies still debated this move to the cloud, many startups and small businesses embraced the cost savings of managed and hosted services over the Internet.

Now, small and large companies alike can take advantage of managed IP-PBX services. Automated services can ask customers where their calls need to be transferred, and it can all be set up and managed with ease. If an agent is busy, the call can be sent to the next available one. Call back options have also been added whereby customers are called back according to their place in line instead of waiting painfully for the next available agent.

GeoLinks Hosted IP-PBX Services – Hosted Voice

Companies like GeoLinks are offering hosted IP-PBX solutions to businesses large and small, saving them money and streamlining their operations. Most commonly bundled with the GeoLinks ClearFiber™ network, businesses who sign up for GeoLinks’ hosted IP-PBX service, Hosted Voice, can expect:

  • A total cost savings of up to 30% – largely due to eliminating on-premise equipment costs, install, and ongoing maintainance fees.
  • An extension of service use through a desktop phone and mobile app.
  • Unlimited calling across North America (the US, Canada, and Mexico).
  • A fully-managed solution built to grow and increase seamlessly as your business scales.
  • Enterprise-grade features such as an auto attendant, conference calling, follow me, music on hold, voicemail to email, fax to email, and much more.
  • True QoS.
  • 100% uptime with 4G LTE failover.

To support the high-demand, high-bandwidth applications that fuel today’s mission-critical business operations, it’s no longer a luxury to have a high-functioning network and optimal voice solution, it’s a necessity. Want to learn more about how your company can migrate from on-premise IP-PBX to Hosted IP-PBX? Call and talk to a GeoLinks’ team member today!

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Personal Field Account from GeoLinks CTO, Ryan Hauf

Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night

GeoLinks CTO Ryan Hauf

As we delve into winter, field operations as a service provider can be tough, even grueling in some cases. Long hours, the cold, and sporadic weather can often present challenges in maintaining a state-wide network. Nonetheless, GeoLinks takes great pride and goes above and beyond in upholding its service uptime commitment to each and every one of its clients.

The following account is told by GeoLinks Co-Founder and CTO, Ryan Hauf.

After receiving word that a rural school in Redding that we had connected through GeoLinks’ partner CENIC had lost connection, the GeoLinks team, lead by Co-Founder and CTO Ryan Hauf, immediately set off to restore connectivity.

Matt Murphy [GeoLinks’ Lead Infrastructure Technician] and I left immediately Friday afternoon [in my personal work truck]. We arrived in Redding, California about 1:30am. Just before we pulled into the hotel, I found that I couldn’t get the manual transmission into gear. Coasting to the side of the road we noticed there was a LOT of heat radiating from the transmission, and we came to the conclusion that it had leaked out all its oil. After allowing it to cool for a little while it went into gear again, so we removed the shifter and dumped in about a quart of 90w gear oil (we could not install it the conventional way since that requires a pump which we didn’t’ have.) We were able to drive the rest of the way to the hotel.

After coming all the way we weren’t about to give up, so the next morning we decided that since it was still derivable, we’d give the hill ascent a try. We drove gently to the base of the hill and all seemed okay. About 1/4 of the way up the hill, I slowed down for a washout that was about a foot deep, when I pressed the clutch, it fell to the floor… Uh oh, the problems were getting worse! Of course the engine immediately stalled because I wasn’t prepared for the clutch not to disengage. We were now sitting, stuck in gear, with our front wheels in a washout. We figured we could restart the engine in gear if wheels were free, so we used a high-lift jack to lift the front of the truck. I started it, and let the truck “start/drive/roll” off the jack, which Matt pulled out of the way so we didn’t immediately run it over. We were off again, stuck in first gear, with no clutch, no way to shift gears, and potentially no way to re-start the engine if it stalled, depending on the location.

GeoLiks - Ryan Hauf - Redding

We continued to drive this way and the conditions got worse, deeper snow, very deep washouts, including one that was about 2′ deep, which the whole left side of the truck dropped into for about 200 feet. There was mud and snow flying everywhere from the tires; I had the engine redlined so it wouldn’t stall.

Some parts where the snow was deep it took us 10 minutes just to go 50 feet or so. Tires spinning, we’d slowly chew our way through the snow enough to get traction to drive up the incline.

Eventually, about half-a-mile from the top of the hill, we were in snow about a foot deep and the left side of the truck had fallen into a rut. Eventually we ran up against a rock or something hiding under the snow and we were stuck. At this point I called Steven (the repo man) to bring a truck and trailer up because we would be needing a tow home (and possibly off the mountain.) From there, we hiked the rest of the way to the site and repaired it (Matt actually hiked it twice since he went back to the truck for a replacement radio.)

We swapped the antenna and radio at the site, cleared the ice off the solar panels, applied rain-x to them to hopefully help with future icing, and then we headed back down to leave. It was about 3pm by this point. Once we got back to the truck, we jacked up the front to get it out of the hole it was in. We used a heavy duty ratchet-strap to “winch” it forward just enough to relieve tension from the transmission enough to get the shifter out of first and into reverse. Once in reverse, we started it as it fell off the jack again, and backed down the hill to a point we could do a 3-point turn around, which for obvious reasons was very tricky (no clutch). [Nonetheless] we got turned around and headed down the hill.
geolinks_redding

We limped the truck over to the school because it was still not connected, even though the tower was fixed. We assumed it was an alignment issue. Arriving just after dark, before long a few people from town showed up asking what we were doing there at night, on the roof… They were great and very helpful. Also very surprised at the extent we were going to in order to get their Internet repaired. We troubleshot at the school for a couple hours and they offered to take us to a hotel in town so we wouldn’t have to lip the explorer there with no clutch. We were stuck at this point – we  eventually got dropped off at the hotel around 11pm.

Steven (repo man) arrived at the hotel later than expected. 4:30am, to be exact, due to a fuel leak he had to fix on his truck on the way up at a truck stop gas station in the middle of the night with Macgyver parts. We left the hotel around 8am, and went to South Forks to retrieve an un-needed radio to be used as a replacement radio for the one at the school, which we had determined was bad.

Upon arriving at the school it seemed to be one issue after another, but finally, we were out of there by about 3:30pm, with connectivity successfully restored, against all odds and challenges!  We arrived back in town at 4am.

GeoLinks - Headed Home
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How Community Anchor Institutions Can Help Close the Digital Divide

How Community Anchor Institutions Can Help Close the Digital Divide - GeoLinks

Community Anchor Institutions play a pivotal role in closing both the California and U.S. Digital Divide. So, what are both the government and key broadband stakeholders doing to ensure they get connected? Let’s explore.

While the United States has clearly and rapidly advanced technologically over the years, the fact remains that the country still remains in a digital divide. The digital divide, defined as the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not, has left a large portion of U.S. citizens, predominantly in rural America, at an extreme disadvantage.

One of the primary ways this gap can be resolved is to ensure adequate broadband Internet access is deployed to all communities – rural, urban, and suburban. From a business stand point, however, the majority of today’s major carriers find that building out networks to residents and businesses in rural areas with low population densities does not often provide a healthy Return on Investment (ROI). Therefore, if both homes and businesses can’t be immediately serviced, connected anchor institutions become a critical community resource. So, what is a community anchor institution?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), community anchor institutions are, “schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, community colleges, and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed, and the aged.”

Fortunately, over the past few decades a variety of federal and state programs have formed aiming to provide the funding needed to connect community anchor institutions across the country.

E-Rate Program – 1996 Telecommunications Act

As part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Congress authorized the E-Rate program. This program specifically aims to connect public and non-profit K-12 schools, in addition to public and private libraries, to advanced telecommunication networks. Funding for the program is provided by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), which collects fees on national telecommunications services. USAC provides schools and libraries with up to 90% of funding for advanced telecommunications services.

E-Rate Program – 1996 Telecommunications Act - Geolinks

While the E-Rate program has undoubtedly made strides towards closing the digital divide nationally, we still have a long way to go. The Schools Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) has identified that 39% of rural Americans and 41% of tribal lands still lack basic broadband Internet services. SHLB has also identified that:

  • 42% of schools do not meet the minimum requirement set by the FCC for broadband services.
  • 41% of libraries have a broadband connection of 10Mbps or less, which is lower than the FCC’s recommended 100Mbps for libraries.
  • 88% of rural area healthcare providers have a broadband connection of less than 50Mbps.

The majority of these statistics stem from unconnected anchor institutions located in rural America. In addition to the efforts taking place federally, programs have also been developed at a state level. California, for example, has programs in place to aid in connecting community anchor institutions.

California Teleconnect Fund

The California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) was created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 1996 to reaffirm its commitment to universal broadband services with a focus on community anchor institutions. The program provides discounts on voice (25%) and broadband services (50%) for eligible organizations. These organizations include public schools, private schools, libraries, community based organizations, hospital and health clinics, California Community Colleges, and California Telehealth Network.

California Emerging Technology Fund

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) was created in 2005 to help “provide leadership statewide to close the digital divide by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband to unserved and underserved communities and populations.”

Established as a non-profit corporation pursuant to orders from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), CETF has access to a total of $60 million in funding to support deploying broadband access across California, particularly in underserved communities. The CPUC also directed that at least $5 million of these funds should be used for telemedicine projects.

Effective Use of Capital

With the presence of funds being allocated towards connecting community anchor institutions across the state of California, it is critical to evaluate how the capital can be used in the most effective and efficient manner. California has a diverse range of topologies with a variety of unique and differing challenges. Therefore, in order to successfully connect anchor institutions state-wide, it’s imperative to deploy hybrid networks.

A hybrid network utilizes a variety of technologies such as fiber, fixed wireless, and fixed 5G. While there are pros and cons to each delivery method, when used together, they have the ability to create a complete solution that can deliver multi-gigabit bandwidth to anchors in both urban, suburban andultra-rural communities.

GeoLinks – Bridging the Digital Divide

GeoLinks was founded in 2011 with the mission of helping close the U.S. digital divide. In the past few years, the Company has further focused its efforts on connecting underserved and unserved anchors to the Internet. Working closely with regional broadband consortiums, organizations like CETF, and non-profits such as CENIC, GeoLinks has connected dozens of California K-12 schools and libraries.

Currently, the telecom is completing network construction that promises to scale a rural hospital in Kern River Valley’s bandwidth from 12Mgps to 1Gbps and fully convert its 170 POTs lines into Hosted VoIP lines. The redundant one gigabit speeds plan to benefit the entire community as GeoLinks will offer its services to other local businesses in partnership with the larger Kern River Valley Broadband Project. This case study showcases just how important community anchor institutions become in closing the divide.

Ultimately, deploying broadband networks to anchor institutions is a cost-efficient and vitally important investment in our nation’s future. Several studies show that building high-capacity broadband to community anchor institutions has a multiplier effect that generates tremendous economic growth for the community and the nation. That being said, while connecting our anchors is imperative, this alone won’t close the digital divide.

To learn more, read our recent article published in Forbes about the “Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide”.

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How to Determine the Amount of Bandwidth Your Company Needs

How to Determine the Amount of Bandwidth Your Company Needs

Your Guide to Determining Bandwidth Requirements

As the world becomes more interconnected, our dependence on the Internet is becoming almost a non-negotiable business necessity. Less and fewer systems are being used offline or in a Local Area Network (LAN) environment, while more and more systems are moving to the cloud, requiring a reliable Internet connection. Not only do you need to have a dependable connection to the Internet, but you will also need the correct amount of bandwidth.

Too little might slow business operations, while too much could be burning unnecessary OPEX. So, how much bandwidth do you need? And how do you calculate bandwidth? By the end of this article, you will understand how to calculate bandwidth requirements. Or at least understand what is behind the results of the bandwidth requirement calculator.

Being a decision-maker in your organization requires that you achieve business objectives efficiently and with the most value possible. That means that you need to make informed decisions acquired through information and data; after all, knowledge is power. Understanding your businesses bandwidth requirements is an important part of running a modern business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How Many Employees Do You Have?

How many employees are currently at the company/organization? This should be easy to answer, but projecting growth is a little more difficult. Being able to project staff growth is important to understand future bandwidth needs. For example, a business using a VoIP phone system that experiences a high call volume that doesn’t have enough bandwidth, will find their call qualify becomes compromised. This could in turn affect revenue.

Make sure that your broadband connection is easily upgradeable and scalable for at least the coming 2 years. More importantly, be sure to have a backup connection, for those unseen, yet planned for, emergencies. While knowing the amount of current and future employees is important, knowing what each one of them does is even more important.

If you are a fast growing company, then make sure you have an easily upgradable and scalable connection.

How Many Active Workstations Does Your Business Have?

Your Guide to Determining Bandwidth Requirements

Workstations is a very broad word, and in the modern business environment, a mobile device can be considered a “workstation”. So, how many connected devices is probably more accurate. Furthermore, arepersonal mobile devices on the network? That could add up to another 25% of required bandwidth,unless you have a policy in place limiting their throughput. If you have office phones that also need to be connected to the Internet, don’t forget to include those in your count. Even though their bandwidth requirements are not intensive, they should be included in the bandwidth calculation.

It is extremely important to be as accurate as you can in figuring out how many devices will be consuming bandwidth. Slightly overestimating is always better than underestimating. The next step is to understand what those identified devices are doing.

What Applications Are Running on Network Devices?

Even though many businesses have their own systems infrastructure hosted on-site, a lot of companies are migrating their systems to the cloud. Systems such as aCustomer Relationship Manager (CRM), Human Resources Management (HRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are reliably being used in the cloud by newer businesses. Such trends are increasing the importance of a reliable broadband connection.

Do you have a marketing department that creates social media videos and multimedia files? In-house marketing departments require large amounts of bandwidth. For example, a typical 2-4 minute video could be between 500 MBand 1 GB– depending on the quality.

Is your PBX/IPBX on-site, or do you use hosted IPBX, i.e. in the cloud? How many employees are using such systems? It’s easy to figure out how much bandwidth is required for each service being used, as most companies list these requirements.

As a rule of thumb, allow 1-1.5mbps for each workstation/device. Add another 25% if personal devices are connected. However, every case is different, you might need less or you might need more. The final necessity is the need for a backup connection.

The Need for a Disaster Recovery Plan

Having a backup Internet line is more imperative today than it has ever been. At the very minimum, access to a payment gateway or website is needed for business continuity. To read more about disaster recovery planning, we cover how to do so here: Disaster Recovery Plan. Considering the fires that have taken place recently in California, being able to survive a major disaster could be the difference of life or death for your company.

That said, it is highly recommended that you consider planning for a backup line or have a carrier with a strong Service Level Agreement (SLA), just like the one that GeoLinks provides.

GeoLinks Internet

Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network offers business-class fixed wireless Internet with guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support, we’re proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Understanding your bandwidth requirements is important in running a successful operation. It allows you to make informed decisions on OPEX that is justified with accurate information. How to calculate your bandwidth requirements is based on how many employees are located at the site, how many devices will be connected, and what those devices will be doing. Add a 10% contingency for peace of mind, and always plan for future expansion.

If you have any questions about how to calculate your bandwidth requirements, our service engineers will work with you to calculate the required bandwidth for your specific business needs. Don’t hesitate to call us at (888) 225-1571 or contact us here.

Also, remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest informative business articles.

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Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity

Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity

what is a disaster recovery plan - geolinks

Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the most essential parts of running a successful business. Just like business liability insurance, disaster recovery planning for your network ensures ongoing business continuity. Whether your disaster recovery plan is for site mirroring, load balancing or just staying online, it is the responsible thing to do for all business owners, CIOs, and IT managers.

This month, California witnessed one of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history – the Camp Fire. Located in the city of Paradise, California, this tragic disaster resulted in massive loss of life, structure, property, infrastructure, and habitat. Southern California also experienced two  horrific wildfires, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire. These fires tore through both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, taking down just near everything in their paths. Cities near the burn areas, while not officially evacuated, experienced county-wide network outages. That said, businesses with a disaster recovery plan have proven resilient. So, what exactly is a disaster recovery plan?

What is A Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disaster recovery planning entails outlining how to recover your business operations during or after a disaster. No business is immune to disaster, so having a plan in place protects your business from large financial losses, and in extreme cases, bankruptcy. While it may appear to be a daunting task, business owners will be happy they had one ready for when disaster strikes. So how do you go about planning for a disaster? According to Q Finance: The Ultimate Resource, here is a quick checklist:

  • Business Impact Analysis:

    1. This is where you identify what parts of the business will be most impacted by a disaster.
    2. Calculate how much this will cost you if you lost them in a disaster for a day, a week, and two weeks.
    3. Next, identify the maximum threshold your business can tolerate before being threatened with closure.
    4. List the minimum activities required to deliver identified parts of the business.
    5. Make sure adequate resources are available to provide those activities.
  • Risk Assessment Analysis:

    1. Identify what the risks are to the organization, such as loss of staff, suppliers, IT systems, and telecommunications.
    2. List plans already in place to deal with each risk.
    3. List plans that need to be put in place to deal with each risk.
    4. Assign a “likelihood to occur” score or probability to each risk.
  • Decide on what action to take for each identified risk:

    1. Deal with a risk by planning to operate at a minimum level.
    2. Tolerate the risk if the cost of reducing operations outweighs the benefits.
    3. Transfer the risk to a third party or take out insurance.
    4. Shut down / terminate the activity.
  • Write then share the plan(s):

    1. Start by writing a general plan, then decide if you need more detailed plans within that one.
    2. Write a scope and purpose for each plan.
    3. Identify the resources and contacts that own each plan and are responsible for it.
    4. List their contact details.
    5. List tasks, processes, and procedures used to respond to an incident.
    6. For business continuity, list the identified critical activities, how to recover them, and the timeline involved.
  • Test, update, and maintain plans:

    1. Plans must be tested. That is the only way to ensure that the plan can work in the real world as well as it works on paper.
    2. Involve staff and have them go through the plan and recommend improvements.

Telecommunications and Disaster Recovery Planning

The modern world has become extremely interconnected, especially now with online transactions largely taking over physical transactions. With most business activities occurring over a telecommunications network, companies depend on the reliability of their Internet connections now more than ever for business continuity. Not having a backup Internet connection, or one that guarantees uptime and redundancy, can cause major financial losses.

For example, if a brick and mortar store or restaurant loses their Internet connection, their POS System will crash. If a businesses POS system is out of order, they will be unable to charge customers for products and services. A major disaster might mean your business is delayed or completely halted for days or weeks at a time. This is, if a proper plan is not in place.

What if you are an e-commerce company? If you lose your Internet connection you will not have access to the online orders customers are placing. Delaying processing orders will delay shipping orders, which will result in upset customers and a domino effect that is sure to affect your ability to gain new customers.

At a minimum, organizations should have a disaster recovery plan for their telecommunications infrastructure. There are several ways telecommunications companies can guarantee uptime. GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network, for example, offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees 99.999% uptime. To achieve 100% uptime, businesses are able to bundle in technologies such as LTE failover.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Business Continuity

LTE became a reality in 2010, and it was a big deal for the telecommunications industry. It provided much-needed low-latency, high-speed, reliability and power efficiency to wireless networks. LTE networks are leaps and bounds better than their 2G/3G predecessors.

LTE is the reason why we can have a gig economy with Uber, Lyft, and delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash. It is also a wireless equivalent to a physical line. A well-designed network utilizes various types of technologies that can be depended on during different situations. For example, GeoLinks’ dedicated fixed wireless network, ClearFiber™, is connected to a fiber-optic backbone, and has the ability to failover to a LTE connection. Switching over to LTE is not like switching over to traditional mobile networks. Its low latency and fast speeds provide you with uninterrupted service, especially in times of disaster.

GeoLinks is proud to report our network has remained connected during California’s catastrophic fires. In fact, we are honored to be servicing CAL FIRE and Red Cross Evacuation Centers across Ventura County. If there is one thing California businesses should take away from the new year-round fire season, it’s that you must have a disaster recovery plan in place. At the bare minimum, have a plan for your telecommunications infrastructure and how to connect to the Internet.

To learn more about GeoLinks Disaster Recovery Solutions, call and talk to one of the GeoLinks’ team members today! (888) 225-1571

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Fighting Fire with Data: Wildfire Detection, Prevention, & Situational Awareness Systems

Fighting Fire with Data: Wildfire Detection, Prevention, & Situational Awareness Systems

The unprecedented scale and scope of recent catastrophic wildfires show that larger swaths of California are at risk than previously understood. Smart investments in strategic technologies may serve to limit the loss of life and property damage. One promising — and proven — line of defense is connecting remote cameras and weather sensors across the state to a vast mesh of wireless and fiber-optic cable to relay data. The collected data is combined and analyzed to produce information that supports wildfire prevention, detection, and management.

This system — ALERTWildfire (University of Nevada, Reno, University of California, San Diego, and the University of Oregon) — is actively collaborating and partnering with local firefighters, GeoLinks, and CENIC. During the 2016-2017 fire seasons, such a system provided critical information for over 350 fires, and in 2018, has assisted in more than 150 fires so far.

Statewide expansion of this proven system would offer strategic advantages for early fire detection, situational awareness for first responders, fire mapping, predictive simulations, and evacuation planning. Rapid investment in this shovel-ready system would soon save lives, property, habitat, and infrastructure across California, and the state would see an almost immediate return on its investment. Additional partners that would benefit from this effort and so might be approached for financial support are the insurance industry, technology accelerators, and local community organizations.

How It Works

ALERTWildfire uses a network of cameras to continuously capture images of high-risk California landscape, while weather sensors on many of the same towers collect data on wind, humidity, fuel moisture, and other factors. The data is passed along via GeoLinks’s fixed wireless microwave technology and then handed off to CENIC’s high-capacity, optical-fiber network that runs throughout California. WIFIRE then analyses the data to create real-time simulations, wildfire path predictions, and visualizations of wildfire behavior and provides these visuals to firefighters to inform evacuation and containment planning. Data visualization is also supported by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology’s (Calit2) Qualcomm Institute.

For example, early fire detection by ALERTWildfire provides immediate input to burn models that incorporate weather, fuels, and topography. Such a collaboration exists between ALERTWildfire and WIFIRE (San Diego Supercomputer Center) to provide first responders with burn models almost in real time. WIFIRE was launched in October 2013 with a grant from the National Science Foundation and has been advised by representatives from CAL FIRE, US Forest Services, US Bureau of Land Management, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Los Angeles Fire Department. WIFIRE’s “Firemap” software rapidly and accurately predicts and visualizes wildfire rates of spread. In late 2017, over 800,000 public users accessed information with the Firemap tool over 8 million times. Since grant funding ended this year, WIFIRE is operating under an annual subscription model for the fire departments of Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura Counties.

What Is Needed Now

While these efforts have prevented significant loss of life and property during recent California wildfires, this fire monitoring network is geographically limited in its current deployment. Now is the time to expand the use of this proven system across the state while systematically integrating it with local networks. Some possible next steps:

  • Include language allowing for data, communications, and broadband strategies to support wildfire data applications in future legislation;
  • Extend towers, cameras, and fixed wireless capacity throughout the state to provide first responders with powerful, contemporary tools;
  • Where wireless towers exist on state property, work with ALERTWildfire to support the installation of cameras and other equipment to expand coverage;
  • Explore opportunities to coordinate this system with FirstNet to augment the reach of this national first-responder network.

In light of the devastating effects of wildfires on California, scaling this work to create a vast data relay mesh across the state, in partnership with first responders, utility companies, and the State, would significantly protect Californians and lead the way for other states that are also fighting fires of unprecedented scale.

This article is available in PDF format for convenient dissemination.

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Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group

FCC ANNOUNCES MEMBERSHIP OF THE BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE’S DISASTER RESPONSE AND RECOVERY WORKING GROUP - GeoLinksFCC ANNOUNCES MEMBERSHIP OF THE BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE’S DISASTER RESPONSE AND RECOVERY WORKING GROUP

Read Official Notice here: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-1121A1.docx.

Released:  November 1, 2018

GN Docket No. 17-83

This Public Notice serves as notice that Federal Communications Commission (Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai has appointed members to serve on the Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).  The members of this working group are listed in the Appendix.

The BDAC is organized under, and operates in accordance with, the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).[1]  The BDAC’s mission is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access.[2]

The BDAC’s Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group is charged with making recommendations on measures that can be taken to improve resiliency of broadband infrastructure before a disaster occurs, strategies that can be used during the response to a disaster to minimize the downtime of broadband networks, and actions that can be taken to more quickly restore broadband infrastructure during disaster recovery.  It is also charged with developing best practices for coordination among wireless providers, backhaul providers, and power companies during and after a disaster.

More information about the BDAC is available at https://www.fcc.gov/broadband-deployment-advisory-committee.  You may also contact Paul D’Ari, Designated Federal Officer (DFO) of the BDAC, at [email protected] or 202-418-1550; or the Deputy DFOs Deborah Salons at [email protected] or 202-418-0637, or Jiaming Shang at [email protected] or 202-418-1303

 

MEMBERS OF THE DISASTER RESPONSE AND RECOVERY

WORKING GROUP

 

Chair:

Red Grasso, FirstNet State Point of Contact

North Carolina Department of Information Technology

 

Vice-Chair:

Jonathan Adelstein, President & Chief Executive Officer*

Wireless Infrastructure Association

 

Members:

 

Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

GeoLinks

 

Andrew Afflerbach, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Engineering, CTC Technology and Energy

National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors

 

Allen Bell, Distribution Support Manager, Georgia Power Company*

Southern Company

 

Megan Bixler, Technical Program Manager for Communications Center and 911 Services

Association of Public Safety Communications Officials

 

Patrick Donovan, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs

CTIA

 

Tony Fischer, Director, Information Technology

City of Germantown, Tennessee

 

Monica Gambino, Vice President, Legal

Crown Castle

 

Larry Hanson, Executive Director*

Georgia Municipal Association

 

David Hartshorn, Chief Executive Officer

Geeks Without Frontiers

 

Greg Hauser, Communications Branch Manager/Statewide Interoperability Coordinator,

North Carolina Emergency Management Division

National Emergency Management Association

 

Kurt Jacobs, Corporate Director, Emerging Technology & Solutions

JMA Wireless

 

Richard Kildow, Director of Business Continuity & Emergency Management

Verizon

 

Frank Korinek, Director of Government Affairs

Motorola

 

Wyatt Leehy, Information Technology Manager

Great Plains Communications

 

David Marshack, Telecommunications Regulatory Lead

Loon

 

Jim Matheson, Chief Executive Officer*

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

 

Kelly McGriff, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel*

Uniti Group

 

Wendy Moser, Commissioner, Colorado Public Utilities Commission

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners

 

Alexandra Fernandez Navarro, Commissioner

Puerto Rico Public Service Regulatory Board

 

John O’Connor, Director, National Coordinating Center for Communications

Department of Homeland Security

 

Eddie Reyes, Prince William County Emergency Communications Center

National Public Safety Telecommunications Council

 

Rikin Thaker, Vice President, Telecommunications and Spectrum Policy*

Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council

 

Pete Tomczak, Manager, Spectrum Coordination and Clearance

FirstNet

 

Rocky Vaz, Director of Emergency Management

City of Dallas, Texas

 

Joseph Viens, Senior Director of Government Affairs

Charter

 

Debra Wulff, Public Safety Director

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

 

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5 Tools to Help an Online Business Succeed

5 Tools to Help an Online Business Succeed

5 Tools to Help an Online Business Succeed _ GeoLinks

Looking to start an online business? With millions of online businesses in the world, and counting, breaking through the .com clutter continues to become increasingly difficult. While there are far more pros than cons that have stemmed from the rise of the Internet, even as a telecom we can admit the sheer volume of available knowledge and tools online can be overwhelming. However, by servicing thousands of web-based businesses across the country, we have found the following five tools have helped the vast majority of our clients, regardless of industry or size, increase their online brand visibility, improve overall user experience, and ensure their business stays up and running.

1. SEO Plugin – Yoast SEO

There are a variety of ways entrepreneurs can go about building a website these days. For small businesses looking for a quick DIY platform that doesn’t require hiring a developer or staffing someone with coding capabilities, platforms like SquareSpace or Wix may suffice. For those interested in a more long-term, dense platform, we suggest WordPress. WordPress is a free and open-source content management system that utilizes a plugin architecture and a template system to support web content, mailing lists and forums, media galleries, and online stores. However, once you have a website, how do people find it?

If you have the funds it may be worth investing in a firm or employee to manage your SEO – search engine optimization – strategy. Although, not everyone has that luxury. Thankfully, a variety of free SEO tools and plugins exist on the marketplace that actually do work. Yoast SEO for example, a widely popular WordPress plugin, handles the technical optimization of your site and assists with optimizing your content.

2. Docusign.com

If you’re planning to conduct an online business, chances are, at some point – whether it be with a customer or a supplier – you will need to exchange legal documents or contracts. DocuSign.com provides digital transaction management services for facilitating electronic exchanges of contracts and signed documents. With features such as authentication services, user identity management, and workflow automation, more than 200 million businesses utilize DocuSign every day.

3. Google Adwords

It’s highly likely you’ve at least heard of Google Adwords. However, have you ever wondered if it would actually help your business? If SEO fails or your competitors are just plain beating you to the punch, it’s often times necessary to pay your way to the top, of Google, literally. With the ability to produce graphic display ads, YouTube video ads, text-based search ads, or in-app mobile ads, Adwords enables advertisers to bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in Google’s search results. While many find the platform to be robust and confusing, Google does offer free Adwords strategy sessions with experts on an ongoing basis.

4. Fullstory

You have a website, great. You’ve made it visible, wonderful. You’ve figured out ways to drive users to your site, way to go. Now, why are your customers still not converting? While there’s no way to know 100% in every case, Fullstory will give you a peak under the hood at the live movements of users that go through your site. In short, Fullstory replays your user’s online experience simultaneously creating automatic insights, funnel analytics, and searchable user data. You can get the “fullstory” (pun intended, sorry we had to) online by checking out the company’s feature page: https://www.fullstory.com/features/.

5. Dedicated Internet Access

Aside from having a website, what is the one thing every online business owner needs? Reliable Internet. What is one of the biggest mistakes small business owners make? Opting for a cheap shared circuit that all-in-all just makes life one big headache. It’s an education process to get people to understand both the value and price difference between shared networks and DIA. However, consider that investing in your network should be, above all else, a top priority; otherwise, how are you going to run your business? You can learn more about the difference between the two network types by reading Shared vs. Dedicated Internet Access—Not all Connections are Created Equally.

Wrapping it Up

It’s no question that the Internet has revolutionized how communities across the globe conduct and operate modern day businesses. With nearly infinite knowledge just a click away, we hope these 5 tools become catalysts for both you and your business’s future success.

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Six Options For Finding Local Talent In Los Angeles

Six Options For Finding Local Talent In Los Angeles

 

Hiring talent can be a difficult task — especially in Los Angeles — because while there are a lot of places to look, it can also be difficult to find the right match. Sometimes the perfect match may be looking for you, and sometimes the perfect match isn’t looking at all. Additionally, there are so many different kinds of talent out there that it can feel impossible to swim through all of the options to find just the right person. Having an area or two to focus on can really help improve the odds.

We asked members of the Forbes Los Angeles Business Council for their advice on where to find top talent to fill open positions. The next time you’re looking to hire someone, consider one of these tools or approaches before narrowing down your search to a few individuals.

Local experts share their tips for finding talent.ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Facebook

Facebook isn’t just one of the most wildly successful social networks online; it’s also a place to post your jobs and find qualified candidates. So many of us spend so much of our time on Facebook that it’s a natural place to let people know that you’re hiring. – Ken GoodwinPacific Preferred Insurance Brokers

2. TechFair

Participating in the TechFair organized by the city of Los Angeles is great. It had big local companies in attendance, which attracted many job seekers and in turn led to more great resumes for us!  – Anna NguyenovaTubeScience

3. Referrals

Turn to your company’s best employees and ask them for referrals. That really can be the best way to get a full or accurate read on a person. Resumes these days can often be inflated and rarely ever paint a clear picture of a candidate’s full potential — or lack thereof. – Skyler DitchfieldGeoLinks

4. Local Meetups

Using Meetup (now owned by WeWork) is a great way to network and meet fellow specialists who can themselves help or refer someone to you right in your neighborhood. A few people create their own and drive relevant prospects to it! – Zaid AmmariPPC Masterminds

5. Indeed And Linkedin

I have two resources that I regularly use. One is Indeed, and the other is Linkedin, which I use for finding full stack developers and other talent for our company. Mainly, I will advertise on Indeed and then do follow-up research on Linkedin to see more information about each applicant. It is not easy to find full stack developers that are available and local, but this seems to work pretty well. – Ron BerkesManufacturingChina.com LLC

6. Your Community
I find participating in your community really helps. Specifically, speaking at my alma mater (USC) has been a great way to attract extremely promising candidates — from MBAs to people fresh out of college. –  Brett CrosbyPeerStreet
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Six Professional Organizations In Los Angeles You Should Know About

Six Professional Organizations In Los Angeles You Should Know About

 

Professional organizations can greatly benefit any business professional. It’s an opportunity to get together with like-minded people in your industry and talk about the things that matter to you in the work. It can be great for networking as well as garnering new information that you can then put to use. A business owner may even feel inspired to come up with new ideas to implement.

We asked members of the Forbes Los Angeles Business Council what professional organization they would recommend to help strengthen the business side of things. The suggestions below are just a subset of what is available, so it is encouraged to do research and seek out additional opportunities for networking and professional development.

Members of Forbes Los Angeles Business Council share their favorite professional organizations.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Digital LA 

Digital LA is a group for entrepreneurs, technology executives and startup founders across verticals to connect. Kevin Winston, the creator of Digital LA, creates weekly events across LA on topics ranging from blockchain to health care technology to food influencers. Kevin puts on Silicon Beachfest, which is an annual/bi-annual multi-day conference for LA’s best to connect and attracts people from around the world. – Robert BrillBrill Media Company

  2. Local Chamber Of Commerce

The local Chamber of Commerce hosts frequent networking events and often publically recognizes the great work done within their communities, ultimately making the companies or individuals more visible to the community and beyond. – Skyler DitchfieldGeoLinks

3. Young Presidents’ Organization

Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) is one of the better organizations to be associated with. It is the leaders and titans of industry, and they have an incredibly rigorous selection process, making it a great place to network and lean on other thought leaders. – Lucas PolsSpark xyz

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