VirtualPBX Blog

The Mexico City Earthquake and How to Help through Los Topos

mexico city earthquake los toposWe’ve all been reminded recently exactly how unpredictable life can be. The recent surge of hurricanes that have battered the Caribbean and United States is proof enough, but additional forest fires all over the Pacific Coast states and into Montana are stark reminders that even without low pressure systems, natural disasters can strike in an instant. Nowhere has that been made more apparent, however, than in the capital city of our neighbor to the south. Mexico City has been literally rocked to its core by a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the most populous metropolitan area on the continent on Tuesday. Now, with emergency crews scrambling to free survivors from tons of rubble, the world is looking on in anticipation and with a desire to find a way to help.

What Makes The Mexico City Earthquake So Significant

First, a little background on what makes this week’s earthquake so significant. Not only was the Richter Scale tipped on Tuesday so much as to cause such pervasive destruction, but the timing of this quake came at a particularly significant time, as well. The quake on September 19, 2017, came exactly 22 years to the day after the catastrophic tremor in 1985 that leveled Mexico City with an 8.0 on the Richter Scale. In the wake of that event, the city was ill-prepared with a formalized response to such widespread carnage. What they didn’t lack, however, was a willingness to act. Therefore, the minutes following the historic quake saw the almost immediate formation of a group of volunteers who began to unearth survivors and clear debris. This group, which is now known as Los Topos, was barely formed before it was dispatched to nearby El Salvador following an earthquake there. Since then, Los Topos have been fixtures all over the planet in helping emergency responses to all manner of natural disasters where there are massive impacts to infrastructure. And while the group has been instrumental in helping save countless lives the world over, they remain relatively unknown, even during this moment of their greatest need in the most auspicious of circumstances and setting; Mexico City on September the 19th. We’d like to help change that.

Los Topos, The Moles, To the Rescue

We’re typically quite deliberate in avoiding an overt endorsement one way or another on a lot of topics. There are some agendas, however, which we feel obligated to work towards advancing. From our philanthropic endeavors, to our focus on service, and commitment to personal wellness, we have no qualms with asserting some positions. We believe that supporting Los Topos in our neighbor’s time of need is one of those times. In the vacuum of more well-known agencies and NGO’s that we typically direct our donations and support to in times of domestic disasters, we’ve seen that many people want to help Mexico City but don’t know exactly how to do that. Therefore, we’ve pulled this information below on exactly how to donate to the rescue efforts of Los Topos.

Los Topos is a professional non-profit Mexican rescue team. They need our support more than ever. If you can spare a few extra dollars this week, please support them via the following methods:
From Mexico:
Bank: Santander Cuenta, #92-00070929-4
CLABE: 014180920007092942
Reference: Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlaltelolco, A.C.
From Anywhere Else:

No matter how much or little anyone gives to Los Topos, we believe it’s important that we recognize their efforts as they rush to save lives in their own backyard. For an organization that has given so much to so many around the globe, we are humbled to give our thoughts and prayers to them, the people of Mexico City, and anyone who has been affected by all of the recent natural disasters around the globe.

Exactly What is DNIS for Business Telephone Systems?

what is dnisA Dialed Number Identification Service, or DNIS, is a way for business operators to organize inbound callers into the topics they are calling about by using special inbound telephone numbers. That, on the surface, may not immediately describe exactly what a DNIS is, but it sets a necessary foundation for understanding one of the most common questions asked about business telephone systems today. Remembering, though, that DNIS numbers are capable of giving your employees a head start on their calls will frame much of their true power into a business context.

Often times, businesses that are investigating new business telephone systems are attracted to the many advantages of a hosted PBX option over a standard, on-site telephone system. The cost savings of a cloud-based telephone service such as VoIP over a legacy, copper-wire platform are often enough to get companies to switch. More often than not, the added functionality and flexibility of VoIP with features such as DNIS end up being the icing on the cake, too. Being able to add, remove, and manage multiple telephone numbers for pennies on the dollar over what an older telephone system would cost makes understanding what DNIS numbers are and how to use them effectively more important now than ever for establishing a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

How do DNIS Numbers Work?

As a way to sort inbound callers based on their needs, DNIS numbers give advance warning of the exact reasons for a call before an employee even answers it. Even for the most difficult to impress clients, that’s an impressive and expedited way to deliver the best customer experience possible. VirtualPBX DNIS numbers are numbers selected from our proprietary bank of tens of thousands of local, international, and toll free business telephone numbers that have been given a special designation to your particular business operations. That exact designation is limited only by the bounds of your imagination in that we currently have DNIS in use for dozens of categories of reasons for our customers. To help illustrate some of the more common ways to leverage this feature that is included with every Dash account, we’ve outlined some of the more popular ones below.

  • Track ROI on Promotional Spending Lets say you want to venture into print advertising, billboards, or any other new medium for your business that can’t be tracked with digital methods like UTM codes. To gauge the effectiveness of the campaign, you could ask all of your inbound callers how they found you, or you could just put a DNIS number on the printed advertisement and then you’d know anyone using that number got it from the advertisement in question. That type of data is also available real time with your Dash VoIP account, too. Plus, that’s way more accurate and appealing to showcase in your next marketing dashboard than all of the hash marks made by your team.
  • Assign Team Leaders to Key Accounts For strategic accounts, you want to have your best people handling them at all times. That’s not to say everyone on your team isn’t capable of handling the demands of your most important accounts, but it does mean that they would also benefit from the enhanced service of being recognized as a strategic account off the bat. By giving a DNIS to these clients, your inbound team can immediately know they are about to field a call from a particular tier of business, giving everyone the chance to treat the call with the importance it requires.
  • Bilingual Business We have telephone numbers for businesses from well over 100 countries across the globe, and as a result, we also have customers with a variety of different language requirements. Being able to ensure that your language-specific callers reach the team members who can help them quickly and smoothly is another way to use DNIS.
  • Assign Numbers to Specific Products For companies with large divides in the products or services they provide, dividing the inbound traffic to the appropriate parties is another useful way to leverage DNIS numbers. Because product specialists are, well, specialized in their particular area of expertise, they need to be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. And having them only fielding calls pertinent to their area of expertise is far more effective than having them transfer out calls to other team members.

How Would You Use a DNIS?

These are obviously just a few of the virtually endless variety of ways a company can use DNIS for their operations. How would you use them for you company that we haven’t listed here? Make sure to let us know on Twitter and Facebook, or better yet, you can even sign up for a free consultation on all of the possible ways that a unified communications system can benefit your business today!

Make the Ultimate Survival Pack with a Softphone in Your Emergency Backpack

Ultimate Survival PackWith all of the recent havoc that hurricanes have been causing across the United States Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Caribbean, it’s important to take stock of the ways in which we prepare for disasters. Of course, no single effort will protect you from any eventuality, but there has been an increased emphasis on preparations that can be stored indefinitely and relied on in a pinch. Specifically, people are researching more and more how to prepare the ultimate survival pack in the form of an emergency backpack. One thing that needs to be considered when preparing your next emergency backpack, though, is not just how you will escape danger, but how you will manage to live under potential refugee conditions after the worst has past. No single item will possibly prepare you for that scenario more than the VirtualPBX Softphone App.

What Makes the Best Emergency Backpack

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area. We know we live in earthquake territory. That’s why many folks here have kept emergency backpacks or earthquake bags for a while now. But with the recent historically bad flooding and damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the idea has become more of a relevant consideration for many more people, as well. Obviously, the most important ingredients of a good survival bag include clean water or water filters, food, warm or dry clothing, batteries, radios, cash and a few other essentials, but here are the reasons why you should never consider your survival pack complete until it has a softphone included it as well.

  • It Weighs Nothing That’s right! Unlike your other survival essentials, softphones are completely weightless. How is that, you ask? Because like all cloud-based communications, softphones are totally hosted on the servers of the company that created it and your access to them only depends on a good data connection.
  • You’ll Need to Plan on Rebuilding For a While That goes for your office building, too. And unless your business already has a automatic failover system as part of a comprehensive business continuity plan, you’ll be at a loss on how to keep the ball rolling for a while. Using a softphone means that you can keep your office hours from anywhere you happen to be during reconstruction.
  • Most Damage Comes During the Days After any Natural Disaster We’re seeing some terrible news come out of Florida as assisted living communities and hospitals scramble to keep their patients safe while there is no power and limited reliability on backup generators that got totally submerged. It’s well documented that many of the deaths from natural disasters come in the days following them for exactly this reason. As a result, you’ll need to anticipate more than how to stay fed and hydrated for an extended period of time, and nothing will help you set-up a semi-permanent shop quite like the peace of mind of knowing you can keep your job performance as high as can be expected under such conditions.
  • It’s Free Unlike some other options, the VirtualPBX Softphone App is free to download from the App Store or on Google Play. The use of the app itself is simply billed according to the parameters of the specific VirtualPBX business telephone system that it’s connected to, but it costs the user nothing to acquire as a failsafe in the event of an emergency (or simply as a great way to take work onto the road!).

What’s in Your Survival Pack?

We at VirtualPBX are most interested in the safety and recovery of everyone in the areas affected by the recent storms to hit our shores. And obviously, these tips on survival bags aren’t retroactive so we hope that they aid in helping people prepare themselves now for whatever else is yet to come. With that in mind, what other, nontraditional survival essentials would you include in your emergency backpack? Let us know by chiming in on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll be sure to include them in future editions of how to make the ultimate survival kit. Until then, stay safe, and please keep those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in your thoughts and prayers.

All New SIP Trunking From VirtualPBX Is Here

SIP TrunkingToday is a bit of a banner day for the foundations of the hosted telecommunications industry. That’s because just today we’ve launched an all-new SIP Trunking service as part of our overall lineup of hosted telecommunications options. The reason this may sound familiar to you is that we have always been in the game of delivering on both SIP and VoIP solutions for small businesses, but now we’ve made huge strides to be able to deliver a totally new, streamlined option to bring SIP Trunking to the modern era alongside all of our hosted communications offerings.

What is SIP Trunking?

I’m glad you asked! We’ve prepared a helpful rundown of exactly what our new service provides for anyone who has ever wondered what the difference between SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX service is. The main takeaway is that SIP Trunking is most useful for businesses that are still financially committed to a robust, on-site PBX and are looking for ways to both expand its functionality as well as trying to defray the costs of their parent system as much as possible. Without getting too much into the technical jargon of it all, SIP Trunking is a way to bridge the gap between an expensive legacy PBX and the flexibility of a cloud-based system. This is something we’ve been doing for ages already, so we know our way around the marriage of systems like this, but today marks something new for the SIP Trunks of yesteryear, too. With this new offering, we’ve modernized SIP Trunking to the exacting standards of our other clean, intuitive VoIP products and services.

Get Your SIP Trunks Now

We’ve always been proud to be the transparent option for you to modernize all of your communications to cleaner, more powerful, cloud-based solutions, and SIP Trunking is no different. Just because we’re changing how well SIP Trunks work for businesses, doesn’t mean we’re going to rewrite the rules on how we interact with our customers. Simply review the benefits of a SIP Trunking solution for your business here and you can sign up for a brief consultation with one of our SIP experts. The whole process generally just take a few minutes and then you’re well on your way to saving by switching to a hosted phone solution without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, either!

Thanks, also, to all of the businesspeople who contributed to the design and function of this new product by way of their participation with the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap. Without your valuable insight we wouldn’t be able to keep delivering such great products and services as easily as we do. You can participate yourself by heading to the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap or by pinging us on Twitter or Facebook, too. Either way, thanks again and we hope you love your new SIP Trunks!

What the NFL Can Teach Us About Cloud Communications

nfl cloud communicationsAre you ready for some football? For many, that question can elicit feelings of dread as they know they are about to lose their significant other for huge gaps of time each weekend. For others, the same question can trigger feelings of euphoria and sheer joy. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of reactions to the NFL regular season and its associated pageantry, pomp, and circumstance, there is an undeniable impact that the league has on Americans in general. This blog examines why that is and exactly how the NFL has come to be such a ubiquitous juggernaut in the collective American experience for the better part of five months. Spoiler alert, it has way more to do with cloud based communications than you think.

Four Downs, Zero Cables

The massive explosion of NFL games is measured in a lot of ways, most easily in the pervasive growth of the media footprint it occupies. Between the three major broadcast networks and ESPN, the total amount of investment to simply be allowed to cover NFL games was over $20 billion in 2016. This is just the cost for these companies to have the right to cover the games, that doesn’t include the massive costs associated with producing the game for broadcast. Like all investments, these huge amounts wouldn’t be shelled out if the promise of an equivalent return weren’t so likely. However, the huge infrastructure that typically has delivered sports media to throngs of eager crowds is no longer enough to get the largest audiences possible. Especially considering the mass exodus that viewers have been making from traditional media outlets in favor of cutting the cord and going with leaner media options.

Touchdown From Anywhere

More and more people are leaving traditional media outlets for cloud-based communications. That is evidenced by the fact that 40% of all businesses report a likely shift to VoIP over the next two years. We see this shift in the number of businesses that are also augmenting their existing communications networks with over-the-top applications. Additionally, the NFL recognizes this trend as being the reality moving forward for its fan base, as well, which is why it made massive investments into new, robust compression and streaming technology for its hundreds of millions of viewers each week. These are worthwhile investments, indeed, when you consider that the very first time the college football championships were decided by a four-team playoff, the only way to view that game was through a famously insufficient streaming service from ESPN that crashed repeatedly during its maiden voyage. With such huge dollar amounts on the line, clearly, the NFL recognizes they can’t afford to have the same problems. Nor should, in our humble opinion, any business be so blind to the trends that they miss the boat on the importance of cloud communications.

How to Enjoy Modern, Mobile Gridiron Mayhem

Ultimately, to enjoy the growing list of services, products, and entertainment streams that are becoming available over the internet, the most important variable to consider is the quality of your network connection. Just like the speed and agility of a wide receiver is rendered useless without a fast and accurate pass for him to catch, having a robust streaming platform is under utilized with a suboptimal internet connection (sorry, I couldn’t resist). The best way to ensure that your internet connection can handle your cloud communications needs is to conduct a thorough network health check that will assess the total capacity, use patterns, and thresholds of your overall networking behavior. And unlike a simple speed test that provides a simple snapshot of the bandwidth of a network, a health check will dig deeper to provide a more useful, holistic view of the health of your network. This is typically an invaluable tool for businesses looking to maximize the benefits of a cloud-based communication network, but it will also come in handy by allowing you to prioritize various types of use so that the important traffic goes through uninterrupted. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that traffic is for VoIP, or for the NFL streams. Either way, we hope you have a happy season opener tonight, whether you were aware of it or not!

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