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West Corporation

Posted on January 3, 2013 by West Corporation 


Speech Recognition Success or Failure Is Not Always Black or White

Statistically successful speech recognition is not the only indicator of a successful self-service IVR application. If an overall speech success rate is not also accompanied by rising key performance indicators — such as containment rates, completion rates, and customer satisfaction scores — then a closer examination of what is working and what is not working needs to be examined.

In order to do this, organizations need to take an honest look at their customer care and realize that not all points of customer interaction are equally important. A good raw number or bottom line is not so important if the core customer needs are falling short.

For example: What is the real value to having a stellar rate of success on a “yes” or “no” confirmation type of prompt if more of the responses are “no,” indicating that customers are unable to successfully speak the correct information the first time? If the core functions of your IVR are underperforming but are statistically padded by confirmation-type prompts, then it’s time to focus less attention on the overall speech success rate and more on the most important drivers of true success. In short, it’s time to strive for a speech success rate that is weighted more heavily not only on higher volume prompts but also on importance. In doing this, you will recognize that not all prompts are created, or valued, equally.

Conversely, it is also important to recognize that just as is true with success, not all failures are the same. For example, in a non-speech-enabled application, a miskeyed entry is rejected. There is no chance that an invalid entry of say “4” can be misinterpreted as a “3” when using touch-tone.

In speech applications, this is handled the very same way. In this case, a spoken “4” will be rejected, as it is not a valid in-grammar response. Depending on a particular organization’s reporting, this properly rejected response is not viewed as a successful interaction even though it was treated properly. It is important to make the distinction between a phrase that was misunderstood and thus not recognized versus a phrase that was properly rejected.

How an organization wants to view and report the success of its speech application will not be the same for all, and that is fine. What is important is that those doing the reporting are looking beyond the raw numbers to the true picture of what speech is providing to the core business functions. Remember that a best practice is not so because a group of experts say that it is. A best practice is only so if it results in increased productivity, greater customer satisfaction and specific bottom-line results that are measurable and provide true value.

 

West Corporation

Posted on by West Corporation 


Can You Identify With Me?

The average U.S. household has 3.5 phone numbers.

If it’s confusing to you to keep all of those numbers straight, then you can imagine the complexity involved for big business to keep data current to identify customers. The number of phones per household continues to grow, and we now have the ability to port numbers from one person to another. Wouldn’t it be great if companies could tie all that data together and identify a customer based on any one of those household numbers?

When you call a company’s IVR from a mobile device or a new number, chances are those businesses, with which you may be a long-time customer, are having a hard time identifying who you are — and then you’re unable to quickly access the services that you need. When a business can’t identify you, it increases call time, drives up operating costs and in most cases, can reduce customer satisfaction.

Twenty-seven percent of U.S. households are now mobile-phone-only, up from 14 percent in 2007.

With the culture shifting to a mobile-driven world, these issues are creating a strain on companies that are trying to keep their consumer data updated and relevant. More and more companies are now accessing learning databases that can identify and verify callers no matter which family member’s phone you may be calling from.

Customers, like you and me, want a personalized experience. We can still have it if companies can keep up with all our phone numbers.

 

West Corporation

Posted on December 21, 2012 by West Corporation 


Automatic Location Discovery for Cisco Jabber Soft Phones

Cisco JabberCisco Jabber integrates unified communications (UC) capabilities for users, centralizing presence, instant messaging (IM), voice, video, voice messaging, desktop sharing, and conferencing in a user-friendly interface. The comprehensive UC functionality and highly mobile nature of the Jabber soft phone allows users to switch seamlessly from one mode of communication to another, with access to the complete suite of UC and collaboration tools from anywhere in the enterprise.

However, the high degree of mobility afforded by Jabber can create challenges when it comes to providing E911 support to users. Because it includes voice functionality, organizations that implement Jabber must ensure that users receive the same high-quality E911 support as they would from any other device accessing the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM). That means that when 911 is dialed, their accurate location information must be available to be delivered with the call to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).

To help organizations support the Jabber soft phone and its inherent mobility, 911 Enable offers robust, reliable E911 management capabilities that ensure accurate location information is always available. 911 Enable’s Emergency Gateway (EGW) appliance can automatically track the locations of Jabber soft phones using layer 2 (switch-based), layer 3 (subnet-based), or wireless LAN discovery methods. An organization simply uploads a network map into the EGW that associates network elements to Emergency Response Locations (ERLs) to enable this functionality.

Support for Jabber is delivered in conjunction with 911 Enable’s E911 Softphone Locator (ESL) software. The ESL updates the EGW with a Jabber soft phone’s unique provisioning data (e.g. MAC, IP address, BSSID, extension) each time it is activated or moves on the network, and at pre-configured intervals. The EGW references this data to the layer 2, layer 3, or Wireless LAN network maps to determine the location of the Jabber soft phone. For added functionality, the ESL enables the EGW to successfully maintain unique identifiers for Jabber soft phones so regardless of the logged in user profile, it can be located based on the mapping between the layer 2/layer 3 address or wireless access point of the phone and the provisioned emergency location. This ensures that when 911 is dialed, the Jabber soft phone’s precise, accurate location is ready to be delivered to the appropriate PSAP.

For more information on 911 Enable and its support for Cisco soft phones, call 1-877-862-2835, email sales@911enable.com, or visit www.911enable.com/cisco.

West Corporation

Posted on December 13, 2012 by West Corporation 


911 Enable Solutions Complete Certification with Latest from Avaya

DevConnect Tested911 Enable is pleased to announce that it has successfully re-completed compliance testing with Avaya. Two of 911 Enable’s solutions were tested, the Emergency Gateway (EGW) and the Emergency Routing Service (ERS). Certification was completed with the following Avaya systems:

  • Avaya Aura Session Manager 6.2
  • Avaya Aura Communication Manager 6.2
  • Avaya IP Office 8.1

This recertification reflects 911 Enable’s commitment to remain up-to-date with Avaya’s latest technologies and innovations, and ensures that customers can deploy our solutions with ease, knowing they’ve achieved Avaya’s rigourous standards for interoperability and support.

911 Enable is a Technology Partner member of Avaya DevConnect. To learn more about 911 Enable’s solutions for Avaya, read the press release here, or visit our Avaya webpage.

West Corporation

Posted on December 12, 2012 by West Corporation 


History repeats, experience matters and doing the right thing

Hark! Do you hear what I hear – collective sounds in the 9-1-1 universe, from sighs of relief and cheers of happiness to groans of frustration and despair? I’m not talking about 9-1-1 callers. These sounds are coming from people in our industry.The FCC has responded to an agreement between APCO/NENA and the Big 4 wireless carriers with its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the subject of text-to-9-1-1 (see http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-next-generation-911-nprm). For those of us who have been watching and waiting to learn what will be done about SMS, and for those of us involved in moving toward equal access for all, this is a monumental decision!

After talking with regulatory gurus, colleagues in PSAPs, and several Deaf friends, I am reminded that our industry already has tremendous experience in rolling out new 9-1-1 technology. They say that history repeats, and it appears that text deployment challenges may be very similar to the challenges faced by PSAPs with wireless 9-1-1 implementation. Processes had to be put in place, equipment and networks had to be upgraded, and the PSAPs and carriers worked together toward the delivery of that call for help.

Today the challenge is delivering and receiving text. Similar to those earlier days with a consensus agreement, PSAPs and carriers have an opportunity to once again do the right thing! This time, however, we should be able to better manage the change and do so in a much faster timeframe.

We are fortunate to have had these experiences, as well as real-world experiences with text! From the delivery of the first text to 9-1-1 in Black Hawk County Iowa to other trials happening across the country, we understand what is required when we talk about PSAP readiness. For Black Hawk, there were 3 components: (1) an IP-based network connection to the PSAP;  (2) a method of delivery and display for text messages at the PSAP; and (3) training for call takers.

There is an inevitable passage of time required to implement text to 9-1-1 nationwide. However, with this agreement from the Big 4 and the FCC’s involvement, real progress continues to be made.

And as carriers move forward, it becomes critical for PSAPs to begin taking the necessary steps NOW. Time is of the essence.  Our citizens, family and friends are depending on us!  If we fail to do so expeditiously, the collective sounds in the universe are going to become much louder!

By Toni Dunne, ENP, External Affairs Manager, Safety Services – West

West Corporation

Posted on December 7, 2012 by West Corporation 


Better E911: Lync and the Emergency Gateway

EGWWhen Microsoft was first working on their follow-up to Office Communicator, their team reached out to us at 911 Enable to collaborate on how to provide E911 support for their new Lync platform. Out of this collaboration, Microsoft Lync included revolutionary E911 capabilities not found in other UC platforms. The Microsoft Lync clients were made to be location-aware. This meant that an E911 solution did not need to “find” the device when a call was made, because the device would send its location during a 911 call.

This location awareness is enabled by a proprietary location request made by the client to the Lync Location Information Service (LIS) at client sign-in. Since the client itself is making the request, they can be located at the device level regardless of the line appearance of the Lync client logged into that device. Locating clients at the device level is critical in the enterprise due to the use of shared lines, multiple concurrent logins, and the mobility of soft clients. This location request process enables administrators to pre-configure enterprise location data in the Lync LIS database. 911 Enable is one of the only certified Microsoft partner to interoperate with these features to provide real-time MSAG Address validation and SIP emergency call routing support for Microsoft Lync.

The native E911 support built in to Lync, combined with 911 Enable’s call routing solution, enables organizations to meet basic E911 regulatory requirements. Unfortunately, simply complying with basic E911 regulations may not be adequate to meet all the corporate E911 requirements in the Enterprise UC space. To enhance the native E911 support provided by Lync, many enterprises are choosing to install 911 Enable’s Emergency Gateway (EGW) appliance to meet all their requirements. There are many benefits to installing the Emergency Gateway appliance into the Lync environment and I have included some of the highlights below:

  • One pair of Emergency Gateway appliances can manage multiple UC vendor deployments at a time. Since Lync is still a new platform, it is very common to have a multi-vendor environment as users migrate to Lync. The EGW acts as a central E911 administration point for all your UC deployments, which greatly simplifies management and integration. It is not uncommon to have enterprise deployments that have been trying to replace their old legacy PBX for years, with many factors keeping the old beast in production much longer than expected or desired. Using the same pair of EGW appliance, both the Lync users and the old legacy users can be supported.
  • With the Emergency Gateway, administrators can easily manage E911 configuration using a simple web administration GUI instead of PowerShell applets.
  • The Emergency Gateway appliances can be automated to integrate into third-party systems using a variety of interfaces. This allows for further automation of E911 management.
  • The Emergency Gateway appliance has advanced security personnel notification capabilities. This includes enhancing the existing Lync capabilities with the ability to have security conferenced in during 911 calls, using the 911 Enable Desk Alert screen pop application, and integration into existing security CAD systems. A single pair of EGW appliances can provide the same notification capabilities across multiple UC vendor platforms, so onsite security personnel receive the same notifications regardless of which UC platform the call originated from.
  • The Emergency Gateway has advanced overlaid discovery methodologies compared to Lync, allowing administrators to customize location determination preferences to adjust to the uniqueness of their environment. This means administrators can control which network element is used to determine a location for a user. The administrator can choose any order of either MAC (switch/port), wireless BSSID, subnet, or other factors to locate the user. The Emergency Gateway also allows administrators to build “Safety Net” supernets to minimize errors in data entry, instead of Lync’s native E911 capabilities which require all device subnets to be entered one-by-one. For example, say you have one building with 10 floors and each floor has its own 10.45.xx.0/24 subnet. Each floor can be provisioned as 10.45.x.0/24 or you can provision the entire building as 10.45.0.0/16. Additionally, the Emergency Gateway does not need to rely on third party network discovery systems to obtain MAC/switch/port data.
  • The Emergency Gateway can use any combination of E911 destination routes. The native Lync E911 support routes all the emergency calls to a certified E911 routing service such as the 911 Enable Emergency Routing Service. This may not be appropriate if you have a large number of client devices all on the same campus, served by the same Public Safety Answering Point. In these cases, the Emergency Gateway can route the calls out local gateways to be used with legacy PS-ALI solutions while routing mobile or work at home users to the Emergency Routing Service. The Emergency Gateway has been designed to route to either a local gateway or through the Emergency Routing Service.

This is just a small subset of highlights of what the Emergency Gateway brings to the Lync environment. Due to the location awareness of the clients, the Emergency Gateway can locate Lync users at a device level and not just using line-appearance. The Emergency Gateway appliance is qualified in the Microsoft Unified Communications Open Interoperability Program (UCOIP) for Microsoft Lync, as is the Emergency Routing Service. 911 Enable continues to be an active partner with Microsoft to ensure that Lync continues to provide progressive E911 support. Microsoft has done an excellent job implementing innovative E911 support capabilities and the Emergency Gateway appliance extends this functionality to provide a robust, feature-rich E911 solution.

To learn more, visit www.911enable.com/lync or call 1-877-862-2835.

West Corporation

Posted on November 30, 2012 by West Corporation 


9-1-1 Call Taking and ESInets

Very often, when PSAPs are looking to migrate to a next generation 9-1-1 solution, they request on-premises 9-1-1 call handling systems. Typically, the preference to deploy the equipment on the premises is intended to accommodate a severe network outage, ensuring survivability of the 9-1-1 call-taking operations at the PSAP.

However, the PSAP will not be able to receive 9-1-1 calls during such a scenario if it experiences a severe network outage that knocks out both redundant paths to the IP network. The only possible path into the PSAP may be the plain old telephone system (POTS) lines that deliver 9-1-1 calls via seven or 10-digit lines. In the most severe network outages, POTS lines would also be affected, as they may be served via the same end office or central office that processes 9-1-1 calls and/or provides the last mile connectivity into the PSAP.

On-premises 9-1-1 call-processing equipment (CPE) does not provide any more survivability during this scenario once a PSAP has migrated to an IP-based call-handling infrastructure. As a matter of fact, PSAPs that migrate to an IP-based call routing solution or an emergency services IP network (ESInet), only gain greater survivability when the CPE is located in geographically diverse data centers accessed via a public-safety-grade IP network or cloud. Admin or POTS lines are terminated at the PSAP premises using “Admin Gateways” which terminate seven or 10-digit lines at the PSAP, allowing the PSAP to still process admin calls even if both IP paths are out of service.

With CPE in the cloud, PSAPs can ensure greater survivability as they easily move their operations to an alternate location and quickly connect to their data and configuration to answer 9-1-1 calls.  This model of adding call taking capability to the ESInet via a cloud-based solution provides PSAPs with the greatest level of operational continuity. In the event of a planned or unplanned outage, PSAPs can sustain 9-1-1 services by leveraging additional resources at various levels from neighboring jurisdictions.

By Ashish Patel, Systems Architect, Safety Services – West

West Corporation

Posted on November 21, 2012 by West Corporation 


9-1-1, more than a number

For many of us, the meaning of Thanksgiving usually includes feasts, long weekends, football games, parades, family gatherings, or even a forerunner to upcoming Christmas festivities. The “first Thanksgiving,” however, was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the loss of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance.

This “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676. On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune. Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.” One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. It would take a span of over 150 more years to establish Thanksgiving as we celebrate it — George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.

Our country is rich in history, and we have much to be thankful for. Recognition of one’s blessings may occur quickly or it may take years to acknowledge. Compared to the 150+ years it took to establish a national holiday, it took a mere 11 years to establish 9-1-1. From the conception and recommendation of a single number to report fires in 1957 to the first and infamous 9-1-1 call made in Haleyville Alabama in 1968, Americans have been blessed with an emergency system that helps to save lives. With support from the White House Office of Telecommunications’ national policy statement in 1973, the encouragement for the nation to adopt 9-1-1 has resulted in the saving of countless lives and property. And today 9-1-1 is known as THE number to call in an emergency.

However, 9-1-1 is just a number without dedicated public safety professionals who work ‘round the clock, including holidays such as Thanksgiving. They are the calm voice at the end of the phone for millions of people in their greatest time of need. They are the experts in managing technologies to help responders stay safe. So let us give thanks for these amazing people – not only on our national day of thanksgiving, but every day…. for every heart beat of those they helped and those they will help in the future!

By Tori Dunne, External Affairs Manager, Safety Services  – West

West Corporation

Posted on November 20, 2012 by West Corporation 


911 Enable Announces Record-Breaking Attendance for its 2012 Fall Webinar Series

Webinar Recordings Now Available for Free Download On-Demand

Top 5 E911 Challenges911 Enable is pleased to announce that its recently completed fall webinar series, The Top Five E911 Challenges facing VoIP and UC, drew a record amount of registrants and attendees.

The series focused on the five key challenges that organizations using Cisco, Microsoft, Avaya and ShoreTel UC systems face when it comes to E911:

  1. Meeting state and local E911 regulations
  2. Supporting centralized voice systems with multiple locations and remote workers
  3. Tracking the locations of IP phones as they move on the network
  4. Notifying on-site security personnel during emergencies
  5. Keeping the costs of E911 projects down

The webinars are now available for free download on demand – watch them today!

The Top Five E911 Challenges facing Cisco Deployments
Download Now!

The Top Five E911 Challenges facing Microsoft Lync Deployments
Download Now!

The Top Five E911 Challenges facing Avaya Deployments
Download Now!

The Top Five E911 Challenges facing ShoreTel Deployments
Download Now!

West Corporation

Posted on November 16, 2012 by West Corporation 


Martha Stewart moments in the PSAP

I hate blogging. To me, the word “blogosphere” conjures an image that would upset Al Gore. Potential psychological rehab aside, I can’t resist – yes, I have something to say.We are standing at the precipice of wholesale change in the way earthlings communicate. The world is witnessing incredible and exciting technological and operational convergence in the commercial communications world. As 9-1-1 professionals, we must remind ourselves that emergency communications is not exempt from the good or the bad of this tectonic shift. For many years, the 9-1-1 community has enjoyed incredible autonomy. But those days appear to be numbered.

The latest convergence technologies suggest that we now play a more integrated role in the lifecycle of incident reporting and response. Developments in computing would suggest that desktops in the PSAP should support fewer processors and monitors, not more. Backroom equipment is seeing less “dedicated” rack space and more integration – even consolidation – of 9-1-1 and related consumer apps. We may be the rocket scientists of our little world, but getting today’s payload delivered requires more cooperation than it used to. And by the way, defining and creating specs for that payload and its various piece parts will require a great deal of talent.

Don’t take this as a minimization of 9-1-1 expertise – au contraire! Even the neurosurgeon must work closely with anesthesiology, cardiology, radiology, internal medicine and the entire nursing team.  Just as the lion shall lay down with the lamb, the CAD guys, the radio geeks, the call routing gang and the ANI/ALI nerds should recognize that sharing Happy Hour every once in a while could turn into some real Martha Stewart moments: “it’s a good thing”. More than ever, we need to be thinking in global terms with emphasis on how our roles and responsibilities contribute to the success of the larger mission. My money is on the collective intellect.

IP technology, harnessed intelligently, should offer us more opportunities than it brings in challenges. But don’t take it from me – I hate blogging. God forbid you ever find me doing it. I just think that perhaps we should spend a bit more time researching creative partnerships and developing new friendships. After all, it’s all part of our mutual stewardship.

By John Melcher, President and CEO – The Melcher Group


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