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RapidReach System FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do you hook up the phone lines into my PC?
  2. What exactly are the telephone boards?
  3. What other hardware is necessary to operate RapidReach?
  4. How does RapidReach interface to the telephone network?
  5. Can I run RapidReach via the company switchboard?
  6. If I have different prefixes for different types of phone calls, can RapidReach accommodate that?
  7. Can I call people that have rotary phones?
  8. Can people call in to RapidReach at the same time as it is making a Call-Out?
  9. In what order does RapidReach call people?
  10. How does RapidReach handle a busy line?
  11. What does RapidReach do when there’s no answer?
  12. How long after a Call-Out can a paged person call into the system?
  13. When paged people call in, how does RapidReach know who it is?
  14. What happens when there is an answering machine or voice-mail?
  15. Do you use synthesized speech?
  16. Can a call recipient record a response verbally?
  17. How many MB of disk space does RapidReach use?
  18. What database does RapidReach use?
  19. Is it compatible with Access?
  20. Can I import ASCII files?
  21. What operating systems does RapidReach require?
  22. What are the computer hardware requirements?
  23. Can both the Server and the Client program run on the same PC?
  24. Can we install RapidReach in our network?
  25. What networks do you support? LANs? WANs?
  26. How do the clients and server communicate with each other?
  27. Can RapidReach be installed on a server in a LAN?
  28. With a network installation, can different users in different departments access only their own contact lists or databases?
  29. What are my alternatives for accessing the system from off-site?
  30. What are the Security Features for remote access to the system?
  31. Are the database files encrypted?
  32. How does RapidReach page people?
  33. What paging protocols are supported?
  34. How do I prevent paged people from getting a busy signal when calling in?
  35. How does alpha paging work?
  36. How does the fax feature work?
  37. What is meant by a scenario?
  38. How does scheduling work?
  39. Can RapidReach call different numbers depending on the time of day?
  40. How does E-mail work?
  41. What is the fax-on-demand option?
  42. I want to use RapidReach for mission-critical communications. How do I make it as secure and reliable as possible?
  43. Can you use a GIS interface to activate call outs?
  44. What options are available for Integration with onsite systems?

1. How do you hook up the phone lines into my PC?

The phone lines are connected directly onto your PC, via one or several telephone boards that come with your system. Analog or Digital Interfaces are supported. The phone lines must end in a standard modular plug RJ-11(analog) or RJ-45(t1, E1 & ISDN). The phone lines need to be installed before RapidReach is installed.

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2. What exactly are the telephone boards?

These are industry-standard, non-proprietary voice processing/telephony boards that manage the telephone lines (distributes calls between the lines, performs dialing, interprets busy signals, detects answers, monitors and analyzes call progression, interprets DTMF signals, etc.) and transmit the voice and text messages (compresses and decompresses audio files, etc.). Each board requires a full-length PCI expansion slot in your PC. The boards are approved for use in most countries.

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3. What other hardware is necessary to operate RapidReach?

Other hardware necessary to operate the RapidReach system is a sound card, microphone and speakers. We recommend SoundBlaster cards. We provide one Sound card for each license, included with your RapidReach order.  Additional cards may be purchased from Enera.

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4. How does RapidReach interface to the telephone network?

The telephone boards can interface either using Analog or Digital interfaces.  A variety of Digital protocols are supported, including ISDN – PRI (5ESS and NI2 in US, CTr4 in Europe), T1 CAS, and Analog/Loop Start.

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5. Can I run RapidReach via the company switchboard?

You can connect RapidReach either directly to the phone network via dedicated, external lines, or via internal extension lines from a switchboard. In the latter case, you can configure RapidReach to dial the prefix needed to access an external line (i.e. 9 or 0).

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6. If I have different prefixes for different types of phone calls, can RapidReach accommodate that?

Yes, RapidReach allows you to automatically add prefixes to two different types of numbers.  You can also include additional DTMF dial strings into any number dialed.

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7. Can I call people that have rotary phones?

You can call someone that has a rotary phone and transmit the message, but the person cannot respond so that the system can register his/her response. He can however call back immediately to the system operator, who can manually enter his response.
If this is an important requirement, there is additional hardware available that can convert pulses to DTMF signals (i.e. Rotary/DTMF switch).

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8. Can people call in to RapidReach at the same time as it is making a Call-Out?

Yes, you can allocate the phone lines for inbound or outbound calling and therefore keep any number of lines open for inbound calls while a Call-Out is in progress on the other lines.

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9. In what order does RapidReach call people?

You define the call order in the application. You can specify the call order among people within a position, among positions in a group and among groups in a Call-Out. If you have a predefined call order, you can easily change this at the time of the Call-Out, by redefining it in the Start Window. All primary people are called before any secondaries (alternates) are called.

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10. How does RapidReach handle a busy line?

The system will call back a busy number as many times as you want. When you configure the system you define how many times you want it to redial and at what time intervals.

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11. What does RapidReach do when there’s no answer?

If there is no answer after a specified number of ring signals, it disconnects the call and moves on to the next phone, pager or fax number for the individual, if any, or to a secondary contact if any. If there is no other contact number or secondary for the position, it moves on to the next position in the list. If you set the system to recall a group when completed (you can define the number of restarts), it will retry the numbers where there was no answer. Upon restart, RapidReach will only call positions who did not respond the first time.

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12. How long after a Call-Out can a paged person call into the system?

This time limit is user-defined.

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13. When paged people call in, how does RapidReach know who it is?

The person is prompted to enter his PIN and password, so that RapidReach will know who it is and can register the response. After correct PIN (and password, if desired) has been entered, RapidReach will play the message and prompt for response.  With Version 5.2, if a person dials in from a known number and the phone line reports the caller ID, RapidReach can automatically log the person into their mailbox.  

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14. What happens when there is an answering machine or voice-mail?

While Answering machine detection can be enabled, in Emergency contexts this is often undesirable, since there is no way to determine whether or not a recipient has picked up a message.  The most reliable setting, is to treat answering machines as failed calls, and expect the recipients to report in to confirm they have received the message.

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15. Do you use synthesized speech?

With the System solution, it is possible to record a message in natural voice using a microphone to ensure that the inflection is natural and the message is authoritative and clear.  All System messages can be rerecorded.  Text to Speech can be supported in certain circumstances as an option, and is supported in the Service. 

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16. Can a call recipient record a response verbally?

No, RapidReach does not accept voice messages, which are subject to misinterpretation, and can be problematic if the recipient is receiving the call in a noisy environment.  RapidReach accepts responses input via DTMF-tones, i.e. entered on your phone’s keypad, and you can set up as many responses with response codes as you wish.

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17. How many MB of disk space does RapidReach use?

Usually between 30-50 MB, but this depends of course on how large a personnel database you have, how many messages you have and how long they are. The audio files take up the most disk space.

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18. What database does RapidReach use?

RapidReach internally uses the Borland Database Engine (BDE). This is however not transparent (visible) to the user, and no separate database maintenance is necessary. A database repair utility is included with the system, in the event of any damaged files.

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19. Is it compatible with Access?

BDE/Paradox tables may be opened directly by Access or imported as ASCII text files, see next question.

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20. Can I import ASCII files?

Yes, any delimited ASCII file can be imported into RapidReach, saving you the work of manually entering personnel data. You can also keep RapidReach’s database updated by continually performing imports. As long as you have a unique PIN for the person whose data you are importing, new data will override old data for the same person. If you import data for a person without a PIN, a new record will be created for that person. If you for example keep personnel file constantly updated, this file can be imported into RapidReach at regular time intervals, or whenever it has been changed, so that you don’t have to update both databases. Most databases will allow you to export or save to a text file, which RapidReach can import.

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21. What operating systems does RapidReach require?

The Server requires Windows2003 Server or XP/ 2000 Professional or  NT. The RapidReach Client could be installed on Windows XP/2000/NT or Windows 9x.

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22. What are the computer hardware requirements?

RapidReach does not require more power, speed or memory than the operating system itself. The computer requirements therefore depend on your operating system. A critical issue is the number of available ISA slots, as you will need one for each phone board plus 1/2 a slot for the sound card. We publish a separate sheet with system hardware requirements or recommendations. Ask your supplier.

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23. Can both the Server and the Client program run on the same PC?

Yes. Our stand-alone, single-user version, RapidReach-STANDARD, is installed with the server and the user client on the same PC.

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24. Can we install RapidReach in our network?

Yes. Our network version, RapidReach-PRO, can be installed in a network. It includes one server and three user clients, which means that people from three different locations/computers can access the system simultaneously, for list maintenance as well as for call-out activation.

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25. What networks do you support? LANs? WANs?

All networks (LANs and WANs) that allow clients to access a common database. Since the RapidReach Client and server applications communicate with each other via the database, the system is completely network independent. As large amounts of data are transferred between the client and the server applications, the network must be high-speed (min. 10 Mbits per second), to achieve acceptable performance. Most LANs meet this requirement, while many WANs are slower than this.

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26. How do the clients and server communicate with each other?

They communicate via the database.

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27. Can RapidReach be installed on a server in a LAN?

Yes. The RapidReach server can be installed either on a server or on a client in the network.

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28. With a network installation, can different users in different departments access only their own contact lists or database?

Yes, with Departments, users can be restricted to particular sections of the database. You can also restrict access based on functionality. Different users can access different functions of the system. You can also limit user access to different scenarios, to prevent unauthorized activation of a scenario.

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29. What are my alternatives for accessing the system from off-site?

You can call into the system from any touch-tone phone, to activate a Call-Out scenario remotely, to respond to a page, or to listen to an information message. When calling to activate a scenario, you will be prompted to enter a User ID number and Password before you can select a scenario and activate it. If the scenario you select only contains one common message for all people and groups called, it will be played for you on the phone, and you will be given the opportunity to record a new one on-the-fly, if the pre-recorded one is not suitable.

With a network installation (RapidReach-PRO), you can of course access the system from any PC where the RapidReach Client is installed, on or off site. This gives you complete access to all functions, except changes affecting the server. These changes must be made in the server. See also under networks above.

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30. What are the Security Features for remote access to the system?

To activate RapidReach remotely from a telephone you must enter up to three different codes to be able to start a call-out (User ID, password and scenario code). To access the system from a remote computer, you must be set up as a system user and enter appropriate User ID and password.

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31. Are the database files encrypted?

Yes.

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32. How does RapidReach page people?

RapidReach can support multiple types of pagers, and multiple paging operators.  Text messages can be sent via a dialup modem or email. Numeric pagers can be triggered via a normal phone line, or via modem if there is an internal paging system. The paged person calls back this number, enters his PIN (and password, if desired) and the message is played back to him. He is then prompted for a response and RapidReach logs the result.

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33. What paging protocols are supported?

All major protocols for external modem interface, i.e. TAP, UCP, CIMD.

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34. How do I prevent paged people from getting a busy signal when calling in?

If you will be using RapidReach primarily for paging, the system must be dimensioned and configured with enough inbound lines to support this. The best configuration is if there are dedicated lines for inbound and outbound calls. Capacity depends on the size of the paged group, and the rate at which they will call back.

Most telephone companies offer a variety of services that will be useful in this context. One is ”automatic hunt” (terminology may vary), which means that when a call to RapidReach encounters a busy signal it will automatically be forwarded to one of the other lines. Another one is ”call hold” or ”UCD” (terminology may vary), which means that a hold message will be played to the caller instead of a busy signal, in which s/he will be asked to stay on the line until the next available line is answered.
Note that those and other services are normally available from the telephone company, and are not resold or provided by RapidReach.

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35. How does alpha paging work?

You edit a text message by typing it into a text editor. RapidReach will display which systems you can use based on the length of the message, i.e. 400 characters for paging systems using the POCSAG or ERMES standard (covering most European and many American systems), 160 characters for GSM-SMS. There is now support for multiple alpha paging /GSM (PCS in the US) operators/ carriers.

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36. How does the fax feature work?

The fax feature is commonly used for information and updates to for example media, customers or authorities. The recipient’s fax number is entered in a separate fax category in the person’s or company’s phone list. The fax can consist of either the same message as the one used for alpha pagers, a separate text document, or a graphic document from another application. A company logo and other graphics can of course also be part of the document. A fax header and footer is generated automatically. A cover page is created, indicating the name of the fax recipient and any other relevant data. You can define which of the system’s phone lines you want to enable for fax transmissions. The fax transmission can be combined with the automatic placement of a phone call to notify the recipient that he has received a fax. The recipient can be prompted for a confirmation that he has received the notification. RapidReach will log result of the fax transmission plus the recipient’s response, if combined with notification.

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37. What meant by a scenario?

A scenario is a combination of groups, positions, messages and phone category settings. Scenarios may be uploaded to our Service, activated remotely, and activated more quickly within the application. Each scenario is given a code, and when you quick-start a scenario you select the appropriate code. In order to activate a Call-Out remotely by telephone, you must have defined a scenario. Over the phone, you will be prompted to select a scenario.

You can set up any number of scenarios and there is a possibility to have different scenarios for night and day call-outs, for business and non-business hours, or for different shifts. You can have different call orders, within and among the groups in a scenario, than you do in the regular listing of groups. It's also possible to select one, several or all participants in a group for a Call-Out. You can set a different call order between the different phone categories for each scenario, so that, for example, home phones are called first in one scenario, while office phones or mobile phones are called first in another. You can also assign different priority levels to your scenarios, and define different restart settings.

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38. How does scheduling work?

There are two different schedules available (both included in the Scheduling option). The calendar schedule looks like a regular calendar, where you can flip between months. You can move backwards and forwards as far as you want. The schedule will show either calendar months or 6-week periods. The time unit is 24-hour periods, which can be set to start at any time, i.e. 24.00/00.00 or for example 07.00. You enter persons by clicking them into the days you want them to be available. You can enter primaries and secondaries. When performing a Call-Out based on a schedule, RapidReach will intelligently determine who to call at any given time. The shift schedule lets you define any number of shifts in a day and their exact time interval and repeat cycle. It also supports deviations from plan, e.g. temporary switches, replacements, non-availability.

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39. Can RapidReach call different numbers depending on the time of day?

Yes. You can define the time interval during which a certain phone category should be used, e.g. office phone 9-5, home phone 5pm-9am, etc.)

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40. How does E-mail work?

This is an add-on option, which allows you to send messages via Internet E-mail. It uses the SMTP protocol to send messages via a dial-up modem connection. You type in your e-mail message in the same text editor as for alpha paging, and you set up a ”phone category” called E-mail. A person’s e-mail address is set up in his ”phone/address book” together with all other phone/pager/fax numbers.

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41. What is the fax-on-demand option?

This feature is tied to the integrated information system. The info system allows you to use any of your outgoing variable messages also for inbound calls. These are then used for example by the press, employees, shareholders, or the general public. Examples are incident details, press info, weather info, traffic info, important phone numbers, etc.

Voice info messages are included with all RapidReach systems. The optional fax-on-demand module lets the callers request a copy of the info message to be faxed to them automatically. The caller selects which info message he wants to receive, then enters his/her fax number. A fax version of the info message will be transmitted automatically. The fax document can be text or graphic.

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42. I want to use RapidReach for mission-critical communications. How do I make it as secure and reliable as possible?

First of all, you should use a UPS (battery charged power generator), to protect the system from power interruptions. Secondly; to make the system as secure and reliable as possible you need to minimize risk factors. This means avoiding a network installation, which makes you dependant on a functioning network. Or, if you want a network installation, you should make sure the RapidReach database is located on the Server PC, so that you’re not dependant on a functioning network to access the database. You should also consider a multiple-server or multiple-system configuration as discussed below. Thirdly, you should consider whether using dedicated, external lines to supplement or replace lines from an internal switch may improve your survivability.

To ensure against the risk of a failing PC we offer two options that offer good protection individually, or, for ultimate protection, can be combined. One is a multiple-server configuration. By installing the RapidReach Server program and one or several phone boards on two or more separate, networked computers, you will both increase capacity and insure yourself against server failure. The servers will share the call load on a group basis, and if one server goes down, the other server(s) will take over its calls. RapidReach will automatically distribute the calls between the servers and the user can therefore not control which calls are handled by which server. The second option is a dual system configuration with Automatic Backup. This configuration, consisting of two copies of RapidReach plus the Automatic Backup optional module, ensures that you always have a mirrored, up-to-date backup system ready to be activated. The Automatic Backup program will continually copy files, even open ones, to the backup system. If you lose access to your primary RapidReach system, you can quickly switch to the backup system. The backup system can of course and should be located at a different site. Note that, unless you have a special arrangement with your phone company, the two sites must be located within the same area code; as the calls are distributed automatically. The exception to this would be if both systems are located outside the area code where the calls will be going to; in this case they can be located within different area codes.

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43. Can you use a GIS interface to activate call outs?

GeoCall is our GIS interface which can be used for Community notification, or to circle an area and activate sirens.  You can specify priority with GeoCall, and draw areas free form, or use Circles or Sections of circles to select the area.  GeoCall can use Industry Standard Map formats, including Esri shape files, AutoCad and Mapinfo formats. 

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44. What options are available for Integration with onsite systems?

Integration options include tools for automatically importing contact lists and phone information from external Business Continuity Packages such as Strohl’s LDRPS, or other Human Resources Databases such as Lotus Notes or CSV files.

Call outs may be activated by software using either RapidReach API or Call Out Engine.  The API allows you to activate Scenarios.  RR COE accepts xml formatted Task files to activate Free form call outs.

Finally, RapidReach may be integrated with Programmable Logic Control devices to control sirens or external equipment. 

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Copyright 2002 Enera International AB. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2002 Cascade International Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.