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Merlinia Assistance Overview

Merlinia Assistance - A technical overview

The following is an outline of the Merlinia Assistance product from the technical point of view. But please remember, Assistance is more than just software; it is also a set of procedure guidelines about how potential conflict situations can be defused before they escalate out of control.

Three separate programs

Merlinia Assistance consists of three separate programs. This is partly because Assistance is a true client-server product, increasing its flexibility and minimizing its impact on your network bandwidth.

Assistance Administrator program

The Administrator program is used to set up the topography of the system. This involves first creating a tree-structured description of the office spaces and buildings to be covered, and then populating the tree with the employees who will be using Assistance. If the SMS option is purchased, then the mobile telephone numbers of the SMS-responders are also maintained in this program.

After Assistance has been put into production the Administrator program is only used occasionally to update the setup, for example when a new employee is added to the system.

Assistance Server program

The Server program simply handles all communications with the client programs, processing log-ins and log-outs and requests for assistance. If the SMS option is installed then Assistance Server sends SMSs as necessary via an SMS Gateway program.

Assistance Client program

The Assistance Client program is the part of Assistance seen by ordinary users.

Users can be logged into Assistance as either "requesters" (of assistance) and/or as "responders".

A "responder" indicates which offices or buildings (which branches of the topography tree) he/she has chosen to service. This means that a "responder" will only receive requests for assistance from the "requesters" who are in these particular offices.

How a request for assistance is processed

When a user feels uncomfortable in a situation and is worried that it might develop in an unfortunate way if not contained, then he/she can activate the Assistance program and request assistance in one of two ways:

  1. hold down a key on the keyboard for 3 seconds, or
  2. press both mouse buttons for 3 seconds

The request for assistance is sent to the server program. The server program sends the request to one or more (the number is set by the Administrator program) of the closest "responders" who have indicated that they are willing to service the part of the building that the "requester" is located in.

On the PC screens of the "responders" a message pops up telling them that a specific "requester" has asked for assistance. The location of the "requester" (building, floor, office) is clearly specified.

A "responder" who sees this pop-up message and is able to respond hits a key to indicate that he/she is on their way. This sends a message back to the "requester" and a discrete icon on the Windows task bar changes color to indicate that someone is coming.

If no "responder" has indicated that he/she has seen the request within a certain amount of time, then the server program widens the scope of the search for "responders", and sends pop-up messages to "responders" who are farther away from the "requester".

If the SMS option is installed, then SMSs are sent to all of the mobile telephones specified as belonging to responders for this requester. A responder who receives one of these SMSs can quickly reply with a blank message, indicating that he/she is on his/her way.

When the situation is normalized the "requester" cancels his/her request and all of the pop-up messages are deleted from the screens of the "responders".

Indicating that you need help is easy!

Esc key

Just place your finger on a specific key on the keyboard and hold it down for three seconds. (The default key is the Esc key.)



Trees have branches and leaves...

Office tree screen shot

The tree diagram of the office space is central to the way in which Merlinia Assistance handles requests for assistance.

(In the above screen shot the tree is overly simplified.)

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