Tag Archives: e911

Swatting Is a New Dangerous Sport

Doug Mohoney at FierceTelecom reported this incredible (too strange to be true) story about abuse of public safety resources.

Called 'swatting' the game is really costly and quite a dangerous prank. These really stupid people get their jollies sending 911 emergency crews which can include SWAT teams, canine units and helicopters of metropolitan police forces, to unsuspecting innocent homes anticipating hostage situations, murder scenes or worse and then laughing all about the waste of public safety time and expenses, not to mention the horror of the innocents who are handcuffed and arrested.

They use an IP network to spoof telephone numbers and then make outrageous claims on the 911 operator. A software upgrade of the PSAP infrastructure would segment out IP calls from PSTN calls so a nasty crank caller in NY can't initiate a 911 call dispatched in Seattle WA.

Although tough to track, there are criminals still being charged and convicted costing them five years in jail.

Broadcast SMS as Public Safety Service

The first report of Brockmann & Company, First Communications was on public safety and business users' recommendations. In the research, it became clear that mobile is the most powerful emergency communications service. It is also the default communications service.

When the office PBX is rebooted, what to enterprise sales people do?

They use their mobile phones and do business even though they have a pretty good excuse why they can't.

As I read through the data to be used in an upcoming report, the low importance of SMS in business struck me as a surprising result, particularly in terms of emergency notification needs. Companies like MIR3 and Skinkers depend on SMS technology as an integral component of their notification service.

I remembered reading the FCC's report on Hurricane Katrina and feeling empathy for the suffering of the thousands of citizens who'd lost electrical power and their connectedness to other human beings within the horror of a hurricane-force wind and tumult. Yet the wireless towers and wireless networks survived and continued operating.

One proposal in the Katrina hearings was to allow public safety officials to deliver emergency notifications – evacuate, stay in your homes, turn TV to channel XYZ for more information – as an SMS to all the mobile phones in a given physical territory. To do this may require some software upgrades in the wireless operator networks, but can certainly be done.

In fact, a mobile phone-based emergency broadcast system is a simpler and more direct method for reaching citizens at risk from a metropolitan disaster than the TV or radio network. In fact, in a simple poll in my living room while we watched a DVD, all four of us in the room (3 of my teen/college-aged kids) had our mobile phones, but none of us were watching local TV. In fact, I avoid local TV choosing to watch satellite channels and DVDs.

eTelemetry Associates Traffic Sources with People


brockmann101010While tooling around central MA on my little red motorcycle earlier last week, I came across two motorcycle enthusiasts (until recently they were riders too) who were also technology innovators and startup founders. We had coffee together and chatted about the prospects for their business. Since I got there early, I saved a table and they provided the coffee. Thanks. 

My coffee meeting was with Ermis Sfakiyanudis and Alan Schunemann, CEO and CTO respectively of eTelemetry, the Annapolis MD startup. Founded in 2004, the company's innovations came from Alan's experience as a LAN manager for the Goddard Space Center. His experience in not being able to easily or automatically associate different layers of the environment (layer 2 to layer 3 is well serviced, but layer 3 to layer 7 is not) with human identities was a source of considerable frustration….

… and opportunity. The core technology of the company is an algorithm that passively correlates a users' login identity (Active Directory login for example) with IP address at a specific time. Furthermore, the core scope of the deployment is packaged as an appliance to make it an easy installation with plug and play functionality and as a repository for the crawler which does all the heavy lifting and pinging. The eTelemetry Locate product is available through leading resellers or direct from the company.

Enterprise IP Phone Mapping for E911

Tuned for IP phone MAC addresses (manufacturers of IP phones have standardized the MAC addresses in particular ways, so knowing this MAC address means it has to be an IP phone) the Locate appliance is transformed into the Locate911 platform. Leveraging a recently signed (March 21, 2007) interworking and resell relationship with 911Enable (a division of Connexon Telecom of Montreal PQ), eTelemetry can position itself as part of a larger solution set requiring automated IP phone to physical location mapping for the enterprise-to-Public Safety Point integration.

I would expect eTelemetry to associate itself in future with the solution programs of the major unified communications equipment manufacturers, who are being asked to provide this functionality by their enterprise customers as they remove the E911-compliant digital PBX systems and replace them with IP-based unified communications products.

Metron delivers LAN Forensics

Who's operating a P2P music sharing service? What's the bandwidth consumption for each workgroup? department? division? Is this employee doing an inordinate amount of inappropriate activities online? Clearly enabling bandwidth accounting and providing an person-by-person and department-by-department understanding of network usage – by service, by user, by organizational grouping – are the core value proposition of the Metron product and the services it delivers to IT managers.

Appliances. LAN forensics. Enterprise accounting. Mapping people with IP addresses, MAC addresses and ultimately physical location are worthwhile market spaces for large enterprises, government and educational institutions that have large campuses and diverse user communities.

In the coming months, I would expect the team to rollout packaging options that expand the addressable market and leverages other buyers and other applications that need to be sensitivie to whom is behind which IP address. I'm thinking of hosted options, smaller packages, rental options for the diagnostic VAR service. Maybe there are other partnering opportunities available with LAN analytical specialists too?

— UPDATE May 15, 2007

eTelemetry announced a deal to license their technology to SourceFire, a deep packet inspection vendor in the MD area. This IP-to-People technology expands SourceFire's differentiation and gives their customers more effective access to the persons responsible for bad PC hygiene. Knowing the name of the person responsible for a quarantined computer is hugely valuable in the development and operation of effective information security practices. Utlimately users have to take responsibility for their role in protecting the company's information assets and this deal goes a long way towards faciliating that initiative.

James Kim Dies After Leaving Car & Family

Sadly, it's a story of one mistake,  one death and one great technology. James Kim, a C|Net editor, with a car abandoned on a road in a remote Oregon forest, left his wife and two daughters on Saturday to seek for help, which he never found. That was the mistake – never leave the car.

The wife and children were found in the car on Monday afternoon, his body was found on Wednesday after Thanksgiving 2006. Aparently, the cellular phone provided a trajectory for the rescuers to find the car and the family. It appears that the family cell phone was in range of the tower long enough to register that the Kims had a text message waiting.

The wireless engineers of the operator were able to detect the call detail record and used that to focus the search effort, which led to the rescue. Here's the C|net story.

AIM PhoneLine Supports E911

Using a technique I proposed in November 2004, AIM solves this demanding issue.

Having users confirm the physical address of the network endpoint at login, is useful. It balances the network operator's need to know where to send emergency services with the users' practice of logging in and out of PC-based services from time to time. A solid solution if I say so myself.