What happens when the Internet stops?

My mom loved dispatching. She liked the excitement and she liked the control. I have vivid memories of her yelling words that no child should hear when there was a computer glitch. Telling her that we needed to reboot a router or that it wasn’t our fault was not acceptable. So, over the years, I’ve been obsessed about data access and integrity. In our 40 years of taking care of our parent’s – and extended family of customers’ confidential data, we’ve never been compromised. We have all kinds of backups and use them regularly to restore data that a user may have deleted or changed and then wanted it the old way. We’ve taken every conceivable precaution to protect data, but if a dispatcher can’t instantly know where to send a tech or what jobs are on the board because their Internet went down, it can be quite stressful. The JaRay system includes (at no extra charge) some automated systems that backup up the dispatch board to the dispatcher’s local system. We can authorize your IT staff or we can set up each user for you. The system has many security controls because we certainly don’t want a dishonest employee to install it on their laptop and see your customer information! If an employee wants us to install it, we require that the owner of the company authorizes it.

JaRay Local Dispatch LogThe JaRay Local Dispatch program constantly updates log files on your local computer in the background. We are masters at tiny file sizes, so it will work even if you have a terrible Internet connection. A log of all of the Jobs currently being done and waiting to be done in each of your companies is updated when something changes in JaRay. It gives the dispatcher all the information they need to dispatch the jobs. It even includes the jobs on the board for the next day. So Contracts, discounts, permit information, work ordered, billing and contact info for both the job and billing are all included and updated.

JaRay Local Dispatch automatically installs and pops up when you start your computer. We used to have it log in and minimize automatically, but now we make the user click the connect button so they know that everything is working as it should. Because the system is rarely used, we’ve found that people forget about it and we’ve had issues where they thought it was running but wasn’t because someone changed some setting on their local computer. The local “IT” person may not have understood the importance of this feature. The dispatch log runs outside of the JaRay window and doesn’t require a JaRay license. However, it has to be assigned to an employee that has a security license. We track and control the machine that it is installed on and can turn it off if needed.

When we first started hosting the JaRay application in 1999 (the year before Y2K!) our customers struggled with connectivity. The Internet was just stable enough to give everyone a taste of what was to come. But if it rained in New York, folks in Alabama couldn’t log in. Is that where the term “Cloud” came from? I remember telling a customer that we would be happy to convert them back to having their own on-premise server. The response was “No way! Before, if we had a problem it took several days to get a tech out here and fix it. Now we know it will just come back up.” Our customers responded so well that in January, 2001 we decided to no longer put new customers on their own servers. It was just too painful. Our customers are plumbers, craftsmen, and trades people; not computer technicians. They liked having us do the backups, updates, and security for them. They liked being able to login from any device from any location.

Now, no one wants to host their own business critical applications. The Internet is stable and wireless technology is simply expected just like turning on the tap to get a glass of water. But there are still the moments when something happens and you can’t log in – usually at the worst possible time. We haven’t forgotten our roots and understand how important it is to know what jobs have been dispatched and where your techs are going. Many of our customers do hundreds of jobs a day and have been paperless for decades. We also understand how important it is for the tech to be able to write and invoice, inspection form, or bid when they are at a jobsite that has limited or non-existent cell coverage. Techs can still fill out invoices and even look up job history without being connected. I’ll write about that in my next blog, so please subscribe!

Because the Internet is so stable and our system is so solid, the tendency is to forget about  doing any sort of backup to local systems. If you can’t log in from their office network, you can log in from their phone or hotspot. Worst case, you call us and have us dispatch a tech or fax them the dispatch log. If you install the JaRay Dispatch Log on your local computer, you don’t even need to do that. During major catastrophes, you can transfer all their incoming calls and computer system to anywhere you want. We’ve even set up a FedEx Office and Regis as temporary call centers. We want you to have control over your business.

I was looking at some old videos we did of the wireless Anoto pen technology and the modem we built to transmit the Bluetooth data from the pen to a cellular encrypted connection to our software portal which sent it to various servers, verified and unencrypted the data. It was and still is pretty cool. We’ve always been on the “bleeding edge” of technology and will continue to do so. The tablets and smartphones of today give us so much more power. I can’t help but wonder what is coming next.

We live and breathe wireless data. Let’s talk. – Call us if you haven’t installed the JaRay Dispatch Log. 800-658-1676 and ask for Jacob. – Note that we must verify with the owner or a C-Level manager.



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