Camp for Climate Action 2008 Telephony
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Media related comms and telephony services
On site phone system
A system of hard wired phones will be installed in key spaces to compliment the onsite two way radio system. This will consist of phone extensions located in key central infrastructure spaces; comms, the gate, media space, legal support, and the site office etc Use of this system will reduce clutter and traffic on the two way radio which means less stuff for the cops to listen with and less crap the people with radios need to listen to which is irrelevant to them.
There are no costs involved in using the on site phones unless dialing an outside line, in which case calls would be the same as whatever the cheapest pay as you go mobile phone tariff available.
I've got two GSM terminals and need to figure out how we attach them to the asterisk box (does it have FXS sockets?) I have a Zoom 5801 ATA which would enable one of them to be attached, do either of you have another suitable ATA?
Line 1 : T-Mobile Solo 30
I've signed up for a t-mobile Solo 30 contract which gives 1,400 free any network minutes (and unlimited texts). That's just about 2.5p per minute and I'm sure 1,400 minutes will be plenty - that's over 20 hours!!!.
The only problem is concurrent use so I've been looking at what deal would be best for the second terminal - something which would be economical to use when the first outbound trunk was busy without having to spend another £30. Was thinking either another sim only contract or attempting to borrow somebodies contract sim and reimburse them for their inclusive minutes.
Line 2 : The Options
I don't think we need another 1,400 minutes from another Solo 30 but frankly the deal is so good that it might be a false economy to bother with the cheaper deals for the sake of saving five or ten quid. On T-Mobile of O2, £20 will get 400 or 500 mins at 4 or 5 pence per minutes while £25 will get 800 mins at 3.2p. On vodafone, £20 goes a little further with 600 mins at 3.3 pence so that looks like the one to take and I can't see us using up 10 hours on the second line in just a week.
There are two options; incoming via voip on the internet connections, or incoming via sip2skype. You might ask why not use the GSM gateways for incoming and the answer is that we don't want to tie up our cheap outgoing trunks on incoming calls if we can find another way to get them in.
Additionally, we want to direct incoming calls to blasterisk for the info and reporting lines and although we could achieve the same functionality using our own site asterisk box, we'd loss the ability to handle multiple concurrent calls.
So,if we used the GSM for incoming from blasterisk, we'd end up paying the cost of the incoming leg of the calls at about 11p per minute. It is clearly better to find another way to get calls in at no cost.
The best way would be via our internet and it is possible that it might be functional over 3G if there is a strong signal. Otherwise, VoIP via the satellite can be done but the high latency means several seconds delay on the line. If we can get alway with it, great. Otherwise we'll fall back on skype via the two skypephones.
Skype to skype calls on these remarkable PAYG phones from THree are free - 4,000 minutes worth each month. By setting up two sip2skype gateways, we'll be able to treat the skypephones as extensions from blasterisk.
Advertised phone numbers
Press enquires numbers
Already advertised are 07772 861099 and 07932 096677 (otherwise known as media mobile one and media mobile two).
Also available to advertise is +44(0)7040 900390 which will forward to the mobiles of the media team.
Sadly, this number can't forward multiple simultaneous incoming calls. It can be set to take messages and send them by email to email@example.com
The number is a premium rate number so that the caller (the corporate media) cover the cost of forwarding the call and the camp doesn't pick up any of the cost.
Info line number
This would most likely be most useful in the early days with recorded info such as directions to camp, shuttle bus locations and times. To make it useful throughout the camp will require more thought and the sms systems are probably better (certainly simpler) for dynamic up-to-date info.
We'd use a local rate number and the caller would pay their standard call rate for making these calls. There would be no cost incurred by the camp.
The system is currently still populated with info from last year as obviously we don't have the info for this year yet. It would be good to get input from people as to what they would like it to do.
Last year it really didn't get promoted due to lack of consensus from indymedia concerned with being associated to anything that could be considering 'organising'. Being very last minute there was no chance to gain support or interest through pre-camp processes (so instead efforts were concentrated solely on promoting the sms alerts system which meant duplicating much of the work of indymedia dispatch).
Current options on the info line (all open to change) :
1. Listen to the latest news (text to speech of the indymedia climate camp time news ticker).
2. Directions to the camp including mini bus shuttle info
3. Legal advice numbers from bust card
4. More useful numbers including site mobile, media contact number,
5. Info for journalists about access and contact numbers again.
6. Takes you to indymedia UK reporting functions so as to separate roles/functions.
7. Chat/Conference rooms
8. (Hidden option). Record a message/report/interview
9. (Hidden option). Transfer call to a human.
I wont reveal the number that will be published yet but the line can be tested using the London Blasterisk access number 0207 043 3783 then pressing 8.
It can also be accessed for testing using an IAX softphone client from your computer (and therefore no phone costs). The blasterisk server is blasterisk.blagblagblag.org, account name is blagger, password blagblag. Kiax (http://sourceforge.net/projects/kiax) or Zoiper (http://www.zoiper.com/) are easy to use free opensource softphones available for windows, osx or linux.
Reporting line number
This number is used by activists in the field to report or update on actions/incidents during the days of action or any other time off camp. Incoming information is then used by alt media coverage, sms alerts and for keeping the media team informed etc.
Callers have the option to leave a recorded message for publication on indymedia and use by the radio team etc. ie. audio reports/interviews. Callers may also hop across to the options provided by the info line. Additionally there would be the option to leave messages for the legal team for reporting arrests etc.
This should be a local rate number to keep callers costs to a minimum.
I've been struggling with coming up with a good way to connect these calls to the camp in a way that won't cost shot loads of money to us or the callers. The ideal way would have been VoIP but the high latency (delay) on the satellite connection and the uncertainty of having usable 3G connectivity means we will not be able to rely on VoIP. If it does work, great, but we need to plan for it not being available.
So, I've been researching commerical and DIY call forwarding options and even bought a skypephone with 4000 free minutes to see if that could be used. Finally however, I think I've found a pretty neat solution.
Here's how it could work...
1. We publish a number and tell people to let it ring twice and hang up 2. When they phone, we phone them back (using another phone). 3. That's it. simple
You might ask what the point is. This concept is more clever than it might sound.
- The caller pays nothing as their call isn't connected so they need not be worried about running out of credit or spending a fortune on their PAYG phone (often 20p/min or upto £1.50 p min if we used premium rate forwarding numbers).
- We pay about 3p/min (using a sim only pay monthly deal like t-mobile Solo 30) rather than 10p to 15p/min if we had used a commerical call forwarding service as a non premium number.
- The system handles the issue of multiple callers at the same time because we never phone out using the phone which we have advertised the number of. So if somebody calls while we are already speaking to somebody else, that's no problem, we either leave it till we have finished the current call or somebody else in the media tent phones them back using yet another phone.
Using this system our workflow might look like this...
1. Phone rings - check the caller ID and log the number and time. 2. Call them back - ask them for their news, ensuring that they cover the who,what,where,when,why and how. 3. Type up and read back notes to them to check our interpretation. 4. We update their record on the log with their location. 5. Verify information - known person? suspect info? conflicting stories? 6. If need be, check log for others in that location and phone them to corroborate. 7. Expand notes and publish in time line / sms alerts as appropriate.
We can also be a little more clever, making the reporting number and info line use the same single phone number. We set it up so that their call is answered after 10 seconds if they don't hang up first. Then they get the info line automated attendant thing (using blasterisk) and allows them to listen to the latest news updates etc or record reports/interviews for publication on indymedia etc. They would also be reminded about their option to make a dropped call next time if they want to speak to somebody in the media tent.
open SMS alerts
These can be thought of as announcement only moderated mailing lists for sms users. The service we use is called twitter and is a commerical service. It costs us nothing to use and those that subscribe only pay for the text messages they send in order to sign up (standard text message rates apply). The messages that go out over the system have to be 140 characters or less. eg. "Around 300-400 people have moved off through Crawley shopping centre towards Brook House for the Transnational no border demo."
People sign up by sending a simple text. Example:
- To get news from the streets during the various protests text the message "follow streets" (without quotes) to 07624801423.
- If your phone is not already registered on twitter you'll receive a confirmation txt and must reply with a username of your choice.
- You will not be charged to receive the news alerts but you will pay for the two texts you send to sign up.
- To stop receiving these sms updates, send another message to 07624 801423 saying 'leave streets'. Again, without the quotes.
Over one hundred people signed up for 'news from the streets' (http://twitter.com/streets) and 61 updates were sent out during coverage of DSEi and the No Borders camp. (see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/09/380691.html)
The imcuk twitter (http://twitter.com/IMCUK), which is not actually connected to the indymedia uk network as such, was used for coverage of last years climate camp. It has 250 followers and 633 updates have been published since it was set up. (see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/08/378220.html?c=on#c178886)
People sign up to this to receive bulletins relating to on site news such as changes to programme, emergency meetings, call outs for volunteers by working groups, etc. (http://twitter.com/c4cc)
text 07624801423 with message "follow c4cc" (without quotes) to aign up then follow instructions in reply.
People sign up to this to receive bulletins about actions / incidents taking place (mostly) outside of the camp. It would be useful to anyone needing to stay informed about the big picture during actions days, be it people on the media team, legal support, journalists, or anyone else to whom up-to-date information would be useful or desirable.
text 07624801423 with message "follow imcuk" (without quotes) to aign up then follow instructions in reply.
working group sms systems
There are private sms exchanges between members of specific working groups or affinity groups. It would probably use twitter although could be done using the free unlimited texts on our mobile contract.
An sms group for the legal observers and the legal team which would enable them to effectively contact each other with things like requests for help/replacements etc.
An sms group for the media team which would enable them to effectively contact each other with things like requests for somebody to speak to a camera crew at the main gate for example.
An sms group for the police liaison team which would enable them to effectively contact each other with things like requests for liaison at an emerging confrontation/incident.
An sms group of all the neighbourhood dedicated phones in order to alert on call spokes to come to a spokes meeting (this might be duplicated by the camp bulletin alerts).