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Do Small Businesses Really Need Network Management?

We meet a lot of small business owners who experience a LOT of business pain because of badly performing or just downright failing networks. Network connections, (or put more simply your broadband connection and the ability to transact and communicate) have become essential for all but the tiniest fraction of businesses nowadays. Of course, its been the dilemma for as long as technology has been a factor in business that small businesses simply cannot afford to support their technological infrastructure in the way that they know they need to.

So whats to do? Most people are just winging it to be fair. The systems we buy nowadays for business are pretty good but far from perfect.

Of course the real trouble is never expected until it arrives.

So when the perfect storm of unaffordable costs to cover the systems we need and systems failure hits, we need to make decisions we really don’t want to have to make. Unjustifiable costs suddenly become justifiable in the face of the totality of the eclipse and the value proposition changes dramatically until everything is fixed, the network goes back to sleep and calm is restored. Until the next time.

This is where a low cost management solution from Rustyice Solutions really becomes your greatest asset. Our small unobtrusive RCAD (Rustyice Control & Access Device) will sit quietly inside your network continuously monitoring the health of your network devices and also your connection to the outside world.

Our systems offer 24x7x365 real time visibility of a multitude of measurable metrics within your network ensuring that, when coupled with our realtime SMS, Email and Messenger alerts component you are always fully informed about the health of your network systems.

Imagine your business broadband connection goes down in the middle of the night. You don’t want to be in the position where you are making the necessary telephone calls having just realised the problem when you arrive at the office at 8.30. With an RCAP that process can begin via our automated systems while you sleep and can potentially be resolved by the time you get to your front door.

An RCAP is much more than a broadband & network monitor however. Through your RCAP you can monitor anything on your premises such as motion sensors, fire alarm panels, smoke alarms, in fact anything that can be measured by a sensor. You can collect statistics on printer paper use, ACU health, HVAC system performance and even the levels in the coffee machine. The RCAP from Rustyice solutions really does it all and, with a customised dashboard designed by our engineers you will have all the data you need at your fingertips, alerting you at precisely the trigger points you require to ensure your business runs smoothly.

At the superbly affordable price of £14.99 per month why wouldn’t you?

Interested? Contact us today for a test drive. With no contracts and no commitments it really is an offer you can’t afford to refuse.

Contact us today to order your new RCAP.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOUR BUSINESS?

help-desk-solutionsRustyice’s strength is that it will tailor the service it provides to suit you and your business needs, rather than have a ‘one solution fits all’ mind-set.

Each customer is different. If needed, we can essentially become your internal IT Department, taking full responsibility for administration.  Or if you already have IT Staff, we can provide an external, independent and professional ‘fall back’ situation in times of need or emergency.

Just look at the list of benefits our customers receive as standard:

  • A Bespoke Package That Fits Your Needs
  • Direct Access to Engineers
  • Remote Live Equipment Monitoring
  • Unlimited Support Calls/Remote Access & Site Visits
  • Detailed Site Audit/Documentation & Security
  • Free Help & Advice
  • Free Project Management
  • Free Loan Equipment
  • Free Holiday Cover for IT Staff
  • Detailed Call Logging
  • Discount Installation Charges for New Equipment Purchased
  • 24/7 Cover Available
  • Quarterly Courtesy Visit & Health Check
  • Low Staff Turnover
  • Excellent Client Retention & References

We have a dedicated team of professionals and monitoring systems ‘in house’, which often enable us to see a problem developing, and respond swiftly before you incur difficulties. Of course, you can still call or email us, and your request will go straight to an engineer who will respond swiftly and professionally.

If you need a site visit, do not worry, these are included (unlimited) as standard for our premium support customers.

call-recording-1024x1024Our Call Logging and Proactive Monitoring systems at Rustyice have been developed in house and are a source of pride to the team and the envy of many of our competitors. They have been designed to facilitate a rapid response to problems and queries raised either by you the customer, or triggered by our in-house analysis.

We’d be delighted to visit you and demonstrate these systems, or alternatively welcome you to our office facility in Kilmarnock where you can see our systems in action over a cup of coffee. See what our customers think about our service and response!

Call us now on 01563 701075 or use our online form.

Visualising crises outside the visible spectrum

For decades, satellite remote sensing has provided fundamental insights in countless physical science fields such as ecology, geosciences, atmospheric physics, and chemistry. However, as it relates to human and socioeconomic processes, satellite remote sensing is an incredibly powerful tool that is underutilized. Human behavior and socioeconomic parameters have been successfully studied via proxy through remote sensing of the physical environment by measuring the growth of city boundaries and transportation networks, crop health, soil moisture, and slum development from visible and multispectral imagery.

The NASA/ NOAA image of Earth’s “Lights at Night” is routinely used to estimate economic development and population density. There are many examples of the conventional uses of remote sensing in humanitarian-related projects including the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) and the UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), which provides remote sensing for humanitarian and disaster relief. Yet even with these successful applications, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what remotely sensed data can provide for prevention, mitigation and response to acute and chronic human crises.

Many successful remote sensing projects have focused exclusively on the visible spectrum – what one would see of they looked down from an airplane at the ground surface. Yet in order to discern objects or patterns of interest (buildings, markets, roads, vehicles, etc.), high spatial resolution remote sensing data are necessary. It’s important to note up front, though, that two other types of data resolution are also critical in remotely sensing the Earth’s surface: spectral resolution and temporal resolution. High spatial resolution remote sensing data have been utilized successfully in a number of recent disasters to rapidly and accurately map the developing situation on the ground during crises, such as earthquake, flood, landslide, and civil unrest events.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, volunteers used released GeoEye imagery to digitize roads into OpenStreetMap. High resolution imagery was key to assessing the situation and for the first time, released widely to the public through Google Earth and other outlets. The Satellite Sentinel Project is goes beyond imaging natural disasters and utilizes DigitalGlobe and other commercial imagery to serve as witness to potential humanitarian crises and human rights crimes in near real-time. Grassroots Mapping.org takes a participatory, public domain approach to monitoring crises with balloon and kite photography. They are using systems that involve attaching digital cameras and infrared sensors to weather balloons. GrassrootsMapping.org has been able to acquire imagery for monitoring the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and has developed a community around their DIY airborne environmental sensors.

Again, however, these projects (as well as many others in the humanitarian space) rely on high spatial resolution with limited utilization of higher spectral or temporal resolution. While high spatial resolution is necessary to “see” what is happening on the ground in the visible spectrum of light that our eyes detect, there are other kinds of data that can be obtained by using remote sensing to “see” in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (spectral resolution). Also, one must take into account how frequently these remotely sensed data are gathered (temporal resolution).

Spectral resolution can be the most difficult to understand since many lay users have only used imagery that looks like what their eye sees, such as the GeoEye imagery in Google Earth. There are many sensors that allow us to “see” the Earth’s surface in ways other than the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. All passive sensors, whether they are in your digital camera or on a satellite, are measuring energy reflected or emitted from the surface of the Earth. This energy either comes from the sun or from the heat energy generated at the molecular level of materials on the ground. Active sensors, such as radar, send down energy (radio waves) to the Earth’s surface and measure the returned signal. Spectral resolution refers to the coverage of the electromagnetic spectrum that a sensor can measure.

Many sensors that can detect visible light energy that also have a “band” that measures energy in the near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These sensors can be used to measure the abundance of vegetation on the ground. Some have simple thermal detectors that can measure temperature. For more detailed analysis of the Earth’s surface, the thermal infrared can be used to say what the composition of geologic and urban materials are on the ground and how those materials hold heat. This requires a higher spectral resolution than most sensors have. Some instruments like the NASA satellite Landsat have a “band” in the thermal infrared which can provide a proxy for surface temperature. The NASA satellite ASTER can has a higher spectral resolution than Landsat since it measure five bands or “slices” of the thermal infrared and so can be used to identify the composition of materials on the ground and measure surface temperature within 1.5 degrees C.

Temporal resolution is the rate at which a location on the ground is imaged by the sensor and how often a useful image can actually be obtained. An airborne sensor, acquiring imagery from an airplane or balloon, will usually have a lower temporal resolution than a satellite sensor, since the airborne sensor will not always be flying, while a satellite may be always acquiring new data. Commercial satellite sensors may effectively have a lower temporal resolution for a certain project than NASA or NOAA imagery, since the project may not be able to afford many images over time from a commercial sensor.

While high spatial resolution remote sensing is vital to responding to an immediate crisis, slow-onset disasters can often be better understood with a foundation of multi/hyper spectral data, with potentially higher temporal resolutions. These data can provide indicators of environmental health, such as water quantity and quality, air pollution, heat, biodiversity, and soil quality. As the world faces increasing major environmental challenges—most notably the threat of climate change—both immediate crises and slow-onset disasters result, but over different periods of time. Slow-onset disasters are often occurring alongside immediate crisis events, involving environmental, social, political, and economic factors that depress resilience and increase vulnerability over time. Multispectral data from NASA and NOAA satellite sensors, such as Landsat, ASTER, MODIS, and GOES, have been effectively used to understand human-environment interactions for these slow-onset disasters.

Since this data is acquired across the globe, in a synoptic view independent of political boundaries or government influence, at regular time intervals, this data can be used to compare cities and regions across time and on global and local scales.

These high spectral resolution data and advanced imagery from active sensors, such as radar, are often limited to researchers who have the skills and software to acquire and process the spectral imagery. Developing open-source Geographic Information System (GIS) platforms that can serve as hubs for both researchers and decision-makers to share data, learn from each others results, and visualize and analyze complex information across disciplines can lead to better understanding of human vulnerability and more useful mitigation/adaptation strategies.

NASA and the USGS have created some new, efficient online tools for data discovery, such as GLOVIS, Earth Explorer, and Reverb, however many of the higher-level analytical software tools for multispectral data have high barriers to entry. At the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, we are adapting a NASA open-source GIS package called JMARS for the Earth (J-Earth) to allow for data discovery, sharing and analysis of remote sensing data and other numeric data with other GIS data.

Beyond expanding access to remote sensing data and the ability for decision-makers and the public to use this data, new NASA satellite sensors could be developed and launched to provide multispectral imagery at spatial and temporal resolutions useful to humanitarian uses and decision-makers. A satellite like this would not need an extended expensive mission, such as Landsat, but could be a lighter satellite that could be developed and launched for a fraction of the cost. There have been concepts proposed over the last few years to dedicate a NASA satellite to urban and humanitarian purposes, including from our NASA research group at ASU, however there is not currently a clear path to propose a satellite like this currently within NASA. As more data have become available to understand both sudden and slow-onset crises that have massively multi-variate problems it has become increasingly important to integrate many kinds of data from multiple sources and from fine to course resolutions. Leading the way are projects like Global Pulse that are integrating these multiple kinds of satellite remote sensing data- from high spatial to high spectral resolution – with other numerical models and vector data from official (i.e. ground based sensor networks, governmental and NGO data) and new data sources (i.e. mobile phone data, crowd-sourced inputs, and social networking) in near real time for multiple audiences – researchers, decision-makers, and the public.

New Satellite Technology a Possible ‘Game Changer’ for Communications

As the interoperability discussion continues, so does the frustration of many who have worked on this issue for decades but haven’t seen their goals realized. So it makes sense to take a look into the future of what could be a bright spot.

Satellite technology has proven itself during major events but its limitations are known. During Hurricane Katrina, satellite technology allowed for some semblance of interoperability when most communications systems were down. A family of satellites first launched seven years ago by Hughes has the ability to be a “game changer,” in the words of some neutral panelists at a recent emergency management summit.

The new satellites, which Hughes calls Spaceway, offer path diversity. It doesn’t just bounce up from an antenna to the satellite and reflect down to a ground hub and connect to the Internet or a data center like the traditional satellite. The Spaceway is a router in the sky that can make multiple connections at once, enabling conference calls and video conferencing.

The Department of Defence tested the satellite’s ability in 2009, creating video teleconferencing between the U.S. Northern Command, the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Dahlgren Division and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego. The after-action report described it as “relatively quick to set up with the ability to carry on high-definition, clear and stable communications with other locations.” FEMA was scheduled to test it during winter 2011.

With the Spaceway, user groups can be built prior to an event and connect when necessary. Agencies and private-sector entities that don’t work together every day can connect quickly during a crisis when other terrestrial communications are not working.

The Spaceway satellite is more akin to a mesh network than the traditional reflector satellite, which enables it to invoke community groups. Another way of describing it is “any to any” connectivity instead of “one to one” connectivity.

Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions at Hughes, called it a “Plan B” network. “If the ground infrastructure is down and you are unable to put together a user group, your radios and so forth are down and you can still get connected, you can quickly invoke a community of users and managers and decision-makers that have access to this Plan B network.”

During Hurricane Katrina, circuits and Bell South towers were inoperable because they were submerged by the flooding. When the towers fell during 9/11, cables and servers went down under the rubble. “These structures on the ground that support our telecommunications are very much in harm’s way when it comes to natural disasters and attacks,” Bardo said.

With Spaceway, both the satellite and the routing capacity are 22,000 miles above earth and away from harm, unlike ground-based communication infrastructure.

“If you think about that ground hub in the old system, the ground hub is the router,” Bardo said. “The intelligence is taking place on the ground. Spaceway, with its router in the sky, can enable me to communicate with you in another field office and add another party somewhere else, and out of harm’s way. I send up your IP address, and it connects me with you. I want to connect with the data center, so I send up the IP address on the antenna of the data centre and it connects me there.”