Greetings from the NKU Web 2.0 conference. Over the next several weeks, I will be unpacking their content into multiple blog entries and prevocative thoughts for our United Way system. I encourage you to help us by submitting your questions and comments directly on this blog so that we can all share in the conversation. All Web 2.0 posts are tagged so that you can quickly reference all of these topics.
So, the big question today...is the United Way ready to exist in the new world of Web 2.0? I submit for your review an example of why I say we are not.
Today, many people use the web for research before making purchasing decisions. One of the largest references on the web is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written collaboratively by many of its readers. Independent studies confirm that Wikipedia content is just as accurate as commercial encyclopedias, but has vastly more information available for research.
The challenge: Look up United Way. You will get four related articles. Check out the United Way of America entry. I submit that United Way is largely absent in the community of Wikipedia writers.
Isn't it interesting that United Way is defined with nearly 25% of the article devoted to "criticism and scandals"? Note that the recent events in Charlotte are referenced. Where are the third party examples of local United Way results?
This article represents the contemporary view of the community of Wikipedia writers. Verifiable sources are preferred to PR or marketing postings. The community of Wikipedia writers is self-managing and the power of the community is greater than any individual or organization.
United Way has a long and proud tradition in building communities. So how are we doing in building community online? Discuss...
Last weekend when the remnants of Hurricane Ike roared through the Ohio Valley, many of us expected torrential rain and wind gusts for a brief period of time. Our hearts and prayers were with our sister Upic members in Galveston, TX as they began the cleanup from a devastating blow. But then the unexpected happened.
We were notified by our commercial data center provider that they were switching to their auxiliary power supply. In the seven years of being in this location, this was the first time this had occurred. Then over the course of the evening, we learned that 90% of the Cincinnati region was without electric power.
Fortunately, Upic had prepared for just such an occasion. All of our staff associates are equipped with mobile technology that permits them to work from any location with electric power and broadband Internet connections. Using this mobile technology, our staff members could attend to their personal situation and monitor our customer's needs via our web-based help desk portal. Our VOIP phone system allowed us to redirect calls to home phones or other landlines. And our Virtual Office platform allowed us (and our Cincinnati & Louisville members without power) to access work email and other business files from any broadband Internet access point.
On Monday, we put our Upic emergency plan into action. Some staff members had power and others did not. Three of our associates went to Patti's house to staff our e-pledge support line and to monitor help desk tickets. One went to work at his wife's office. Still another went to a public wi-fi hot spot. We notified executive sponsors at each of our hosted customer locations about our emergency plan and to let them know that their Upic hosted data was safe and accessible. We also communicated to our members and customers through regular updates on our website and blog pages.
Today, it's Wednesday and our office park remains without power. But, our situation is very different from our friends in the Gulf Coast. We're inconvenienced but safe. Our emergency plan was tested this week and it worked.
Having family in a hurricane zone (the photo above is our neighbor from a prior storm), I've seen first hand the shock and disbelief that such destruction brings. It takes months to fully grasp the magnitude of nature's fury and destruction. But, there is something in the human spirit that stirs when faced with insurmountable odds. We pray for our friends in Galveston, Houston and those along the Gulf Coast still meeting these challenges from previous storms.
At this time, the Upic office in Fort Mitchell, KY (near the Cincinnati airport) remains without power. Upic personnel in this region are working from remote locations where power exists. The Upic Data Center is fully operational. Please contact the help desk to request service at 866-588-8742.
The value of being in a commercial data center was apparent on Sunday. During the High Wind Warning, the data center operated on backup generators from 4:54 to 8:52 pm ET. Our data center has been fully operational during the course of this event. The Upic data center at Cincinnati Bell is the #2 priority on the local power grid as the primary telephone operation center for the region. Our data center's backup generators include two GE jet engines with enough fuel for 72 hours of backup power.
Upic has teamed with Verizon Wireless to offer 12% discounts on voice/data plans for staff of member organizations. Certain restrictions apply*. For more information about the Upic-Verizon Wireless discount plan visit www.upicsolutions.org/wireless and click on the family discount link. * See Upic's website for the full program details.
Over the past week, we've seen some intermittent issues with the Andar e-pledge application hosted by Upic. The WebPages would load slowly (or not at all) during certain periods of the day. We believe that the issue may be related to the recent upgrade of the Andar software package and are working diligently with the provider to isolate any issues.
In the meantime, we're putting additional hardware in place to handle the current and expected load. By this weekend, we will have 4 to 5 times the server capacity dedicated to Andar e-pledge than we did at the start of this week through re-allocation of existing server resources.
As an insurance policy against additional issues, we have purchased four additional Dell servers (approximately $20,000) and expect to have them in the data center within 10 days. We believe the combination of additional hardware and the work we're doing with software provider will resolve any issues for the remainder of the campaign season.
We will continue to monitor server performance and make additional investments as needed to ensure a successful campaign season for your United Way. Please let us know immediately via the e-pledge Help Desk (866-583-3742) if you experience issues with Andar e-pledge.
System Maintenance: Virtual Office systems will be down on Thursday night (9/4) 10:00-11:00 pm Eastern for system updates. For information anytime on system status, click on the red System Update tab on the top of our home page at http://www.upicsolutions.org/.
Andar Report reminder: With the start of e-pledge season (350 accounts scheduled this fall), our Andar servers are in their highest demand period of the year. When running large reports, please schedule these reports to run after hours whenever possible. Your fellow Andar users and your e-pledge customers will thank you.
How does your data center stack up? If your applications are hosted by Upic Solutions, your data is in a commercial data center which receives an annual SAS70 audit.
This audit assures that the proper procedures are in place and are being followed as validated by the auditors. Our data center provider, Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions (CBTS) annually completes this audit and provides this to Upic Solutions. We've posted the highlights of the June 30, 2008 audit on our web site at www.upicsolutions.org/sas70.
In addition, Upic will be pursuing our own SAS70 audit with respect to our internal procedures during the next 12 months. Later this fall, we will complete a Type 1 audit (definition of controls). Our Type 2 audit (review of those controls) will occur six months later.
UPDATE: The Staples Business Advantage program provides discounts for organizational purchasing by local United Ways or affiliated non-profits. Unfortunately, this is not an individual discount program. The previous post has been corrected. I apologize for the confusion. --Winston
Many United Ways are interested in the next generation of web tools to help them build and maintain relationships with their constituents. This next generation of interactive tools are dubbed Web 2.0.
Northern Kentucky University is hosting two separate Web 2.0 seminars on September 23 and 24 for the low price of $99 per session. The sessions will be at the NKU METS Center which is located adjacent to the Cincinnati airport.
NKU recently published more information about the seminars via the following links.