Sunday, November 25, 2018

Closing Down Facts

There seems to be some confusion over what is closing down and when so here are the facts.

Free Accounts

If you currently have a Free Account, allowing up to 20 Operational/Active Members, it will close on 31 December 2018 and your Members will no longer have access.

There is no option to upgrade your Free Membership to a Paid Subscription.

What do you do?

  • Export all your data using the available reports and exports before 31 December 2018



Subscriptions

Accounts with a Current Subscription will continue until their expiry date. You will also get the additional 7 day grace period after the expiry. Once the Grace Period has expired your account will close and your Members will no longer have access.

There are no options to renew your subscription.

What to do?

  • Export all your data using the available reports and exports before your Expiry date
  • Cancel any PayPal automatic, recurring payments before they are due. Any payments made in error are non-refundable


Mail2PushOver (MEC Server) & Flight Following Software

These will no longer be available for download from 31 October 2019 and all support will be closed.

This means that no updates or support will be offered. 

All API Access you may be using to sync your Members and/or Incidents will cease when your MyEmergencyCrew Account closes, which will be before 31 October 2019.

After 31 October 2019 you will not be able to access the setup interface of Mail2PushOver. The Server will continue to operate however you will not be able to make any changes to the configuration.

Flight Following software will continue to operate beyond 31 October 2019 if you have it installed before then.

What to do?
  • Look for another solution
Be aware that all copyright, Terms and Conditions remain in place. If you choose to continue to operate this software you do so at your own risk and are strictly prohibited from distributing it to others.



Why is this happening?

Simple. This business sector has become commercialised in recent years and we have received no support from Agencies such as RFS, SES, CFS, etc to aid development or the continuation of service. The system has become too expensive to fund and operate, and we can no longer afford to do so.

If you feel angered by this decision and wish to vent, please do so to your respective Agencies. I have personally funded this project over the 5 years it has existed and run it at a huge personal loss in time and money, with the sole aim of providing a much needed service to those who needed it. I am a volunteer with no agenda but to help where I could. If you thought MyEmergencyCrew represented a personal agenda to run things, you're very wrong and I'm sorry you think that.

This space is now moving to commercial organisations with a drive to own the sector. This is not why we created or operated MyEmergencyCrew. We're just happy to have helped where we could.


What becomes of MyEmergencyCrew?

For a select few Brigades it will continue to operate privately as normal. We're not taking it down.

We will continue to develop features and use them in our own Stations and vehicles. However we will no longer be making this resource available to anyone who would like to use it also.


Santa Tracker

We're the only availability app with a dedicated public Santa Tracker for your Crew to use.

Simply log in as Administrator, open your Menu > Assets. Select your Santa appliance and head to the Real-Time Tracking section. If you've not used this before, hit the yellow Show Help button.

Here you can set up real-time tracking of your appliance and set a public address that you can post to your FaceBook page to let the public know where you (and Santa) are.

Don't forget to set a Time-Out and select the Santa + Truck Theme.

Monday, November 19, 2018

MyEmergencyCrew Server End of Support

As of 31 October 2019 we will no longer offer MyEmergencyCrew Server (Mail2PushOver) or Flight Following applications. These have always been made available for free, however from this date they will no longer be supported or available for download.

Once support has been removed Flight Following will continue to operate, however MyEmergencyCrew Server will no longer allow access to configuration options.

Paid Subscriptions Update

As of 19 November 2018 we are no longer accepting new paid subscriptions or renewals.

If you currently have a paid subscription you may continue to use MyEmergencyCrew as normal and in full until the expiry date. After which your account will cease to operate.

We urge all Members with a paid subscription to ensure they have updated their PayPal accounts accordingly and have taken steps to export any necessary data prior to their expiry.

Use this link to manage your PayPal Account.

Please note that we have a no refund policy as standard in our Terms of Use.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Exporting your Data

MyEmergencyCrew has a variety of reports, each able to be exported to your own spreadsheets and files.

We recommend doing this periodically to keep your own record of data, and especially if you are using the Free Account which has limited data retention (30 days of past history).

To access these reports and exports, log in as an Administrator and open your Menu > Reports.

Depending on how you have used MyEmergencyCrew you should be keeping up-to-date copies of:


  • Member List (also the Export Contact List found in Edit Members)
  • Check-Ins
  • Incidents
  • Expiring Qualifications
  • Asset Register
  • Crew PPE
  • Training Calendar
  • Subscription Statement

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Free Accounts Closing on 31 December 2018

We have made the tough decision to remove our Free Account for up to 20 Active and Operational Members on 31 December 2018.

From 1 January 2019, all access to Free Accounts will be closed. There is no option to upgrade to a paid subscription as from 19 November 2018.

All current Subscriptions will remain available until their respective expiry dates. After which no re-subscriptions will be offered and Accounts will be closed.

All new Subscription options are now closed so we urge anyone with a recurring PayPal account to cancel it.

We understand that this decision impacts many hundreds of brigades and thousands of users, and we're very sorry if this impacts your Brigade/Unit. We are in changing times and we believe our job is now done as more commercial emphasis comes into this market.

We thank you for your valued support over the years.

If this raises concerns in your Brigade/Unit we suggest you take it up with your respective Agencies in the first instance.



Sunday, November 11, 2018

2019 and beyond

Many years ago now, we sat in a Brigade meeting discussing how we could get better turn-out for Hazard Reductions.

The issue was, we didn't know who was available and the Call-Out Officer was having a hard time ringing around to get commitment from Members. By the time we had enough to crew to submit for a HR, all slots were taken and we missed out.

So one senior executive member questioned us - "Surely someone here can come up with an idea to solve this?". I went home and thought about it, and the next day I wrote an availability app for our Brigade. It was put into use, it solved our problem, we were getting crews onto HRs, and our Call-Out Officer was a lot happier and sane once more.

A while later word spread at a district meeting and I had some enquiries from neighbouring Brigades if they too could use it. So I made some changes to allow for different Brigades and they were up and running too. As far as we knew, there was nothing like this in use in our district so it grew from there. But this was only at Brigade level and our District office turned a blind eye.

Ideas started coming in from Brigades such as "can we get members to check into the station for training?". So I added features for Vehicles, Locations and it continued to grow. As more Brigades heard about "MyRFSCrew" there were more enquiries and more ideas, questions and things to deal with.

So the system got moved to a dedicated ISP and was re-written to become secure and scalable. It continued to grow... but not through any advertising. I was adamant that if a brigade wanted such a system they only need ask and they could have it for free. I was never going to force anything on anyone and not even suggest they use it. Any rookie in the RFS knows the danger of sticking their head up and suggesting something. I was a good developer and keen to hear from Brigades how they wanted to operate, not tell them how they should.

He system spread to other agencies like the SES, Marine Rescue, VRA, and to other states as Brigades and Units with similar problems saw this system as a possible solution. So it was rebranded as "MyEmergencyCrew" and with that we moved again to Servers Australia who provided an industrial strength hosting and redundancy. We were serving over a quarter million page views ever month!

I never wanted to say "No" to anyone asking to use the system but with rapid growth came immense demand for support and also development. It became almost a full-time job.

In 2016 the RFS conducted a Member Survey to try to understand what their Members were doing with their own system "MyRFS" and what they had gone out to find on their own. The result of that survey was that "MyEmergencyCrew" was used by RFS Brigades more that all other 3rd party options combined. I was called in for a meeting which turned out to be more a "free" opportunity for the RFS to conduct research that their contracted researchers couldn't achieve. The meeting ended around "next steps" being a commercial relationship... but the contractors finished and nothing further was said.

Around the same time the SES went out, quite informally, to look at existing systems. I agreed to showcase MyEmergencyCrew to them in demo form since it was being used by a lot of SES Units. I was asked to show how their own units were using the system, to which I pointed out our privacy policy. It must have come across as odd that I would not show the senior SES team Unit's data as they seemed to expect exactly that. We heard nothing back from the SES until  they announced that they would be building their own system.

It was around this time that I made a hard decision. The system was costing a lot of money which was coming out of my own pocket. In development terms and costs I could have bought myself a very nice luxury car instead, maybe even 2. So I had to start charging for something and the subscription model came into effect in August 2017.

Many Brigades objected to having to pay for what they were getting for free so certain exceptions were made to allow them to continue with heavy discounts for another 12 months.

During all of this, other systems were coming into the market. Once such system was BART. I have never used another system nor even looked at one, but I assumed they were receiving the same requests for development as I was. So it was no surprise that these systems did much the same as MyEmergencyCrew did and it didn't concern me.

I had a good and lengthy chat to the BART team. We seemed to be on the same page when it came to the reasons why we were building such systems and we agreed to allow users from my system migrate to BART with a free trial. This started some rumours that MyEmergencyCrew was being shut down. It wasn't. I was not in this game to compete or to enter into discussions over which system was better. So I figured that if Brigades or Districts were now prepared to pay for such a service, they should be uninhibited to do so and pick what suited them. I am happy to have worked with BART on this. They're a great team with strong leadership.

In October 2018 the RFS put out a Tender, well more just an invite to express an interest in supplying to the service a Member Availability System. This appeared for all intents to be the next step following their 2016 Member survey.

This EOI had all the hallmarks of what the SES had done a few years earlier. Very light on detail and quite vague in a lot of respects. It seemed rather coincidental that the SES announced at the same time that they had shelved their own development and were partnering with the RFS on a system. At the time the RFS denied this, but later did admit that they would be working with the SES, whilst being questioned by prospective "interested" EOI parties.

So where does all of this leave Brigades and Units that just want to be able to manage their own band of Members effectively and stay happy and operational?

I can honestly say that I have received no official support from the RFS, RFSA the SES or any such agency, at "official" level. The support for MyEmergencyCrew has come from the grass roots and spread to areas I never expected. It is encouraging to see that Districts are now supporting the idea of high visibility across their resource and we have seen incredible cultural change amongst those who have.

The new commercial players in this area have made serious in-roads to capture the market and take what was a growing, cultural tide and turn it into a new era of managing emergency crews and services. This is an extremely positive thing and I hope it continues.

But one must ask whether the top levels of these agencies have missed the boat and let vast quantities of information flood out of their grasp. I look at the amount of real-time data MyEmergencyCrew captures and work with Districts and Brigades on how to visualise it. They now have a much higher quality of visibility over their own operation and that of their area than their own agency HQ does and this is only growing minute by minute.

My own Brigade now has multiple monitors and push messaging to members that completely bypasses the old channels (pagers, etc) that the aging agency depends upon. Our Members are given high quality, real-time data right on their own personal devices and when they arrive at station, know exactly what happening and who is going to resource it. In the trucks we have real-time tracking back to station and instant updates to co-operating crews. All of this is happening without any intervention of even knowledge of our agency Comms or HQ. 

It should not be this way. But it is.

Will the RFS and SES get together with a 3rd party and claw back some of the data they do desperately want? Or will they end up building a bolt-on to their aging systems and try to force it upon their Members, making that same mistakes as in the past? Will Districts who are now investing is systems like BART, and recognising the benefits of such systems, relinquish their new investments or work ethics back to their HQ?

For what it's worth, MyEmergencyCrew will continue in the short-term. But here's my view on the future :-

Commercial systems, like BART, will continue to grow and will become the dominant provider of services to emergency crews. Agencies will continue to suffer from the revenue shortfalls that have plagued such internal efforts to date and the control will shift to the external providers. The gap between the hierarchy and the membership is wide and will only get wider.

I was just happy to be a part of the infancy in this new era. 

We will review MyEmergencyCrew in the next few weeks, and its place in the market.



Friday, November 9, 2018

New Community Home

Since the demise of Google+ was announced we've been looking for a suitable new home for our Members to discuss MyEmergencyCrew. Thankfully something suitable has come about.

We'll continue to post announcements here on Blogger where you can follow if you like, however we will actively participate on MeWe at https://mewe.com/join/myemergencycrew

There are social apps for this platform and it boasts as the Next-Gen Social Network with No Ads, Spyware or BS. We kinds like it.

So give it a try and join our Group to discuss our system in the open.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Member's Away

We've added a small but useful feature for when you will be away on holidays or just not available for a known future period.

Members can now set an Away period in their Profile > Schedule Preferences.

If you need to make a commitment to something during the Away period, you still can and this will over-ride the "NA" status for the day(s) you specifically set. Any existing, future commitments already made will be remain in your Schedule. There is an option in your Profile to allow you to clear all commitments that may have already been set during the Away period.

For Administrators, you can also set the Away period for your Members in the Member's Editor.

Member planned Away periods will also appear in the Member pop-up windows so you can easily see when they plan to be unavailable.

Currently only 1 Away period is supported per Member, however this can be updated and reused as needed.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fire Danger Alerting in MEC Server

We've noticed that occasionally Fire Danger Ratings are updated during the day for that day so we've added functionality in MEC Server to detect these and post Alerts.

In the past we've only been alerting when the FDI/FDR for the following day becomes available via your selected Agency. Now it will scan for changed to today's FDI/FDR also.

Update 4.2.6 is available at myemergencycrew.com/mail2push