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LRS UK approaching it's 30th year in business!

one month ago

Long Range Systems UK Ltd started out back in January 1989. That makes our company twenty nine years old going on our thirtieth year in business. During this time we have always been involved in technology products of the highest quality and offered the best support that anyone could.

As we approach our 30th year in business we have some wonderful benefits and deals for customers where we will help our customers celebrate our incredible story through our business and make it a period that customers will not forget for a long time to come.

Many companies simply don't last as long as we have, but that longevity is entirely down to looking after our customers as if we were the customer.

So we will look forward to coming of age and hope that our celebrations will be great for all of our very long standing and loyal customers.

To you all... thanks and let's get to the next 30 years with the same enthusiasm as the last 30 years.

 

A B Mckenzie
Managing Director

Articles

The most dangerous threat to your staff and business survival

25 days ago

Being involved with technology solutions professionals see things that could be a real threat to you, your staff or even your business; while the internet can be seen as a wonderful tool (cloud based communications and solutions for example) and all of the other great achievements that the internet has created there is a far darker side to it all; of that there is no doubt and it can be a real threat.

And factually you have in your business nowhere to run or nowhere to hide; sooner or later it becomes a high odd's bet that employee, you or your company will suffer and in severe cases the effects could even close your company overnight.

Don't believe this? Read on where examples of actual major threats are shown below. Not worried? You should be!

It's so dangerous that Deloitte opened a cyber threat hunting service!

But on an everyday level to ordinary SME's just like your business there ireally is no amount of anti virus this or anti malware that available that is really going to help; the below demonstrations show you exactly why; things these days have moved on exponentially to levels that you will not believe, but some are revealed below with actual examples highlighting just how bad the threats have become. There WILL be casualties no doubt but you don't want to be one of them!

Email has been a driving force that has moved forward communications between every aspect of business that anyone could imagine, from sales, customers, support, management, publicity and many more areas; but the fact is, that the underlying technology of email servers is flawed and because it's now a worldwide transport for communications; these communications have to be compatible with every other email server in the world and that creates massive inherent vulnerabilities.

Readers will know that in almost every town, city or country government bodies are working towards combating fraud and other nasty things from many areas, but email is one of the most widely abused platforms there is because of the ease of abuse by non-experts. And if you're not an expert it does not take long to learn how to be one! One organisation in the UK is Action Fraud operated by the police and while they handle other areas of fraud, email scams are high on their list.

But here's where things start to get nasty. Since the advent of cryptocurrency worldwide fraud has increased exponentially. And in the USA SEC Rejects Winklevoss Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund and they are very concerned about investor losses in Bitcoin.  

However, this article is specific; Bitcoin IS being used fraudulently and in both of the cases below Bitcoin is clearly involved in the transportation of monies to the perpetrators of these illegal demands on you, your staff or even your business. It's no joke and anyone ignoring these really bad potential harms to their organisation will sooner or later come unstuck in maybe a really big way.

The first example is shown below and the obvious personal details of the recipient have been removed for security reasons. But this email (that passed every check through a company's infrastructure) is threatening the life of an employee and should never be ignored. 

HERE IS EXAMPLE ONE VERBATIM:

"From: kristin_sric@mail.bg <kristin_sric@mail.bg>
Sent: ****** 
To: *********
Subject: How to save themself
 
Read this warn carefully, since it can be the last in your life.

People are by nature envious. Given the fact of successful development of your business, people (your contestant ) paid me 30,000  Pound Sterling for your head on a stick.

It's not the first time I've done this kind of work, but I'm already tired of these envious bastards and your life will be the last one I'll take or will not do, it's up to you.

Under normal circumstances, I would just do the work for which I was paid without going into the details, but I'm going to get away from it and go on a long-awaited vacation.

You have 2 versions for deciding this problem.

Adopt my proposal or refuse.

You pay me 5 thousand GBP for safe your life and you receive all the information about the customer with whom you apply to the police and thus you save your life and the lives of your relatives.

The second option is you ignore my proposal and turn to the police, but by the same token you will only postpone your judgment day, even if I can not do the work, then somebody else will do it, not within a week and say in a month or half a year, but order for your head will be fulfilled sooner or later.

Thus, you will be afraid of every rustle, walk around looking and thinking that you are being persecuted.

If you want such a life, your choice, but if I were you, I would think very well.

Tickets to England have been taken for July **, and you have exactly 3 days to transfer money to an anonymous account bitcoin 1QJNjRmon3iD3RwdjaGomFLHs25BuLPh51.

I can check the last time  receipt of money before the flight to you, on the **th

In the event of receiving a reward, I will not come to take your life, but will also pass all the information about your customer (Let the bastards get what they deserve) and you can protect yourself, otherwise you know the consequences.

The well-being of the future life depends on your choice.

Think about your life, you family.

on all will of Allah"

END OF EMAIL MESSAGE ONE

The above email is unedited except for recipients details. It can be clearly seen in this email that there is a threat on the life of the recipient. While some recipients would simply brush this type of email off, others become extremely concerned and it's easy to see exactly why. Indeed some recipients WILL go and pay that demanded money and not think twice. Imagine that a key employee received this email and they completely believed its contents? The resultant downfall of the employee could be extreme. This email threatens the recipients life and mentions their family etc.

Notice that the spelling is incorrect for English on this example (undisclosed but its in there) and somehow the writer suggests that the email is the 'will of Allah'. Probably not. But the user identified the recipient was in 'England' likely from the email address so the recipient could believe some of the contents. 

The above email passed numerous checks throughout the receiving companies infrastructure. Now it's easy to see if you are tech savvy, but most email users are not. And if you're a small SME then things could happen that could literally create very serious effects on your business even though the email targetted an employee. But if you're not tech savvy and a company owner, would you believe the above? and send money? Many will have and that 'feeds' the criminals for millions of pounds or in this case $US.

Bitcoin in the above example is used because Bitcoin CANNOT be traced to the ultimate recipient of the payment. This is a major flaw in crypto currency and one reason (irrespective of some suggesting it's an easy way to make money) you really should have nothing to do with it.

As suggested, you just might not believe the above email if you received it, but there is no doubt that you might well believe the next example because it has information in it that YOU WILL BELIEVE!


HERE IS EXAMPLE TWO VERBATIM:

From: "Gloriana Feany" <pcalviscnh@outlook.com> 
To: ********************* 
Date: *********  
Subject: (HERE WAS THE USERS NAME AND THEIR PASSWORD 

I know (MOST OF REAL PASSWORD SHOWN) is your password. Lets get right to the purpose. You may not know me and you are most likely thinking why you are getting this email? Nobody has paid me to check you.

actually, I actually setup a malware on the X videos (porn material) web site and you know what, you visited this site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were viewing videos, your web browser initiated operating as a RDP that has a key logger which gave me access to your display and webcam. Immediately after that, my software program gathered every one of your contacts from your Messenger, social networks, and emailaccount. And then I created a video. First part displays the video you were watching (you've got a fine taste hehe), and 2nd part displays the recording of your web camera, yea it is u. 

There are two different possibilities. Let us take a look at each one of these options in details:

1st alternative is to skip this message. In this case, I most certainly will send your very own video clip to all your your contacts and visualize concerning the humiliation you will see. Moreover if you happen to be in a committed relationship, how it will affect?

Next choice should be to give me $3000. We are going to call it a donation. In this scenario, I most certainly will quickly remove your videotape. You will continue your way of life like this never took place and you will never hear back again from me.

You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search for "how to buy bitcoin" in Google search engine). 

BTC Address: 18PvdmxemjDkNxHF3p3Fu9wkaAZxxRpEiP
[CASE sensitive, copy & paste it]

In case you are thinking about going to the law enforcement officials, very well, this e-mail can not be traced back to me. I have covered my actions. I am also not trying to charge you a lot, I simply want to be rewarded. I've a unique pixel in this e-mail, and at this moment I know that you have read through this email message. You have one day in order to pay. If I don't get the BitCoins, I will certainly send your video to all of your contacts including family members, colleagues, etc. Having said that, if I receive the payment, I'll erase the recording right away. If you really want evidence, reply  Yup! then I will send out your video to your 7 friends. This is the non-negotiable offer, and thus please do not waste my personal time & yours by responding to this e mail.

END OF EXAMPLE TWO EMAIL:

This is an entirely different threat. The recipient picked this one up because of a multitude of reasons that were simply incorrect and not representative of their actions on the internet; however, the stated password WAS about 80% shown (and it would be reasonable to assume the perpetrator knew the rest of the password). This could be seen by many as an actual factual document and it's credibility is created in the recipients mind by the inclusion of the password in to tht threat.

Imagine owning a SME business that might indeed be a larger business, the threat demanded much more money and the recipient HAD viewed what was suggested in the email? People do. It could be seen as likely that the recipient might pay the money to the perpetrator through Bitcoin. And again Bitcoin rears its ugly head. 

Again in this second email instance shown the email passed all checks and tests in the company where the email was received. So these are REAL threats to individuals or business.

But consider this; how did the perpetrator get the recipients password? (it was an old password but nevertheless was mostly valid). The perpetrator suggested key logging on a site known for pornographic video and images. But that is NOT where the perp got the details from. When reading about companies like Facebook, TalkTalk, Dixons Carphone Warehouse, Equifax, Adobe, AOL, Apple, AT&T, British Airways, Mastercard and Visa, Compass Bank, Dominos Pizza, DVLA UK, Dropbox, Kmart, Hewlett Packard, eBay, Experian, Trump Hotels, Gmail, Vodaphone, Walmart, Morgan Stanley, NHS, Ofcom, SnapChat, Adidas, Macys, Sony Pictures (and the list goes on) it is really no wonder that most details of importance (even financially) of people and businesses are all over the internet. There is a Wikipedia about these breaches of data that is extremely concerning reading as these breaches involve all kinds of information that will no doubt be available to buy on the internet. With the incredible reductions in share prices at Facebook maybe that might be the start of a mass exodus from those sort of 'social media' sites; but of course Facebook is merely one of the very long list of companies that have let you down through not protecting your data properly as the list above clearly demonstrates.

Its easy to see why GDPR has become law and countries will continue to pass GDPR legislation accordingly. Thank all of the companies mentioned above and many more for allowing this rediculous situation of becoming the start of the downfall of the internet as you know it.

But is it time to go back and retrospectively fine each and every company involved in the dispersal of personal details even more? Are those companies any less 'guilty' now? It seems that the only thing those large companies understand is when they are faced with very large fines; and even that becomes irrelevent to organisations like Facebook and Google because large fines seem to be 'petty cash' to some of those companies. But shere price reduction wakes them up.

If anyone is concerned about a 'key logger' from the above email example getting your information Kaspersky latest offering of internet security includes software that stops key loggers from logging your information as you type. 


A third example of fraud covered in this article relates to a company that received an email pro-forma invoice to pay from one of its regular suppliers. One day the finance department received a pro-forma invoice that needed to be paid immediately. The email address and the invoice itself looked entirely real. The sending company advised the finance department that they had recently changed banks and that the new details were on the invoice attached. Finance paid the £60,000+ ( $US 80,000) invoice.

The only problem is, that the invoice was completely fraudulent, the email address did read correctly unless you looked close (instead of wonderful.com it was wonderfull.com - just made up example to illustrate the methodology used) and the recipient in the finance department saw and read what they were used to seeing. The real question is, how did the perpetrators get all that information about what an invoice should be like, the real suppliers details, etc., their website and email addresses and more; it's food for thought and make no mistake it can be so easy to allow one of these scams through your business; the chances are pretty high and the consequences could be dire and even bankrupt your business if taken to the extreme.

There is no doubt that the underlying email systems are no longer fit for purpose in general and have not been for some time. Notice that in the first example the scammer sent mail from 'mail.bg' and the second one (even more concerning) was from 'outlook.com'. While the sending email addresses can be 'replaced' with any email address those two shown seemed to be real; indeed one of the perps even used Google to advise how to use Bitcoin for payment. But there are multiples of very large companies that every day allow their email servers and systems to send out such threatening emails to others. Maybe it's time to pressure these organisations (outlook.com, gmail.com and there are multiples of others) to actually filter their emails properly as well as the senders BEFORE this sort of threat get's out and creates serious harm that these sort of emails could easily do.

Of course there are millions of other examples of fraud through an outdated abused email system (and other related internet technologies) that could be shown here, but the aim of this article is to educate readers so that they don't fall foul to these sort of appalling scams.

One company, Network Systems has seen many of these sort of internet related issues and offers a cybercrime service to SME's to help to create a safe environment for empolyees and business as they work on the internet today.

 Hopefully this article will at least make the reader think very hard about how they are going to ensure protection of employees and their company and if nothing else that is a wothwhile objective. Using specialist companies will always help more than by just trying to put solutions in place created by someone without experience in this area and could actually save your company.

Anthony Mckenzie is the managing director of a company involved with technology solutions for a number of business sectors and also an international reviewer of technology products for vertical sectors of business. 

Discreet Staff Communications How it Can Drive Safety and Improvements in Business

27 days ago

Irrespective of what business sector you come from, it is almost guaranteed that specific parts of your business either already use, or would benefit from onsite and discreet communications between staff or customers. So let's just consider a few areas where discreet communications are typical but not always so discreet in many businesses:

* Security systems onsite
* Customer handover between staff
* Complaints handling 
* Emergency communications

And it's very likely that you can easily come up with other areas of the business that use or might well benefit from discreet communications. The importance of these areas of business cannot be denied, but some aspects mentioned are not always obvious from the above headings, so let's take a closer look at each area.

Security Systems
Long known for discreet communications, the security solutions on-site are essential depending on the exact circumstance. For example, it might be rather pointless having staff proclaim to the world that someone is stealing company property as that would undoubtedly alert the thief! But how many times have you seen a theft taking place in a business and the staff are simply using two way radios to communicate between the security staff? It's simply not the best solution because on many occasions the radio implimentation is incomplete so that even real customers can hear the communications going on. A better choice might be to use quality earpieces and microphones that can today be almost hidden from view but communicate incredibly well even in noisy environments without surrounding people listening in on the conversation. Recent alternatives include two way radios that have specifically programed buttons for security issues that message other radio users without anything being overheard.

Another communication technology, namely on-site paging systems are increasingly being used to integrate to alarm systems so that staff can be notified of security issues discreetly. Staff will be aware of the problem but customers (or anyone else) won't know the security position thus not concerning customers about the impending security event; customer communication comes later if the event gets escalated to a higher level. One solution by LRS UK comprises of a custom transmitter with 7 contacts that can be integrated in to most security systems. The unit can message relevent staff with a completely discreet note about current security concerns. Messaging can be triggered in many ways, including carefully placed push buttons that can trigger different messages to staff.

Customer Handover Between Staff
Have you ever noticed that in some businesses that customers are transferred between specialist staff or staff that perform a single task to other staff regularly. For example, in an opticians here in the UK, customers arrive at the opticians for an eye test, received by reception, are seated in the waiting area and when the optometrist is available the customer is taken to the test room and 'handed over' for their eye test by front of house staff. 

After the eye test, many optometrists then leave the test room with the customer and 'hand over' the customer to what are basically sales staff so customers can choose frames and place an order accordingly.

But one very well known opticians determined that rather than having the optometrist walk out of the test room with the customer, it would be advantageous to have the sales staff collect the customer from the test room. But how could that be achieved? A push for service button that can send one of six messages is placed in the test room and the optometrist simply 'calls' the sales staff with an appropriate message to a convenient and discreet text pager. In fact, a number of members of the sales team are messaged, the first one to attend then 'cancels' the call to the room and the other sales staff are stood down to continue other work.

A key advantage of this solution in opticians is that both the 'trusted optometrist' and the 'less trusted' sales staff plus the customer all end up in the test room together which creates a perfect example of how to hand over customers in that sector. It increases the closure rate and increases the profitability of the company and importantly, customers are completely unaware that the system is in place. 

It is likely that you could think of many other scenarios in business where some other similar situation could be improved as this opticians whole business of hundreds of sites was. All thanks to a very discreet paging system for staff.

Other examples include PFS call buttons to call sales managers over to 'hot' deals with customers in the car sales environment. Importantly, the customer is completely unaware that the sales representative has called over the sales manager as a 'closer' to the deal and the sales 'manager' then offers a 'sweetener' maybe carpets or a 'tank of petrol' to close the deal there and then. It could only be achieved with discreet messaging and the paging platform is perfect for those needs.


Complaints Handling
There is nothing worse in ANY business than customers complaining to management while surrounded by other customers. Let's just say that complaining customers are not entirely compatible with a need of the business to have a great customer environment. While it's pretty essential today with applications like Trustpilot around to solve complaints immediately when they arise, a failure to do so can prove expensive to business in even the short term if bad experiences are posted on the internet in that way.

But the fact is, there are very few solutions that customers can use to firstly bring to managements attention that they are less than completely happy, and secondly to be able to resolve the issue without 'making a scene' in front of other customers. When did YOU last use one?

Historically there was a solution for restaurants (but could have been used in other sectors also) that was a survey device in the form of a tip tray (later updated to an iPad). When the meal was complete, the bill was provided on the tip tray and the customer was asked to 'fill out the electronic questionaire'. Key questions determined whether a customer was happy or not. For example  'Would you recommend a friend' and was the last question for the customer to answer. If the customer said that they would NOT recommend a friend then the manager received a discreet message telling him that the customer at table X was not happy.

The manager could then visit the customer in a non confrontational manner and ask if 'everything was ok'; he then offered a discount voucher to the customer. Generally speaking that solved any issues, but importantly, the manager had the opportunity of 'turning the customer around' from an unhappy customer to a customer that would return. If customers leave the premises less than happy then the ensuing feedback can be very detrimental indeed. Sadly the survey solution as described was discontinued some while ago.

There are applications around today though for mobile phones that can allow customers to fill out a similarly designed 'survey' and if the customer is unhappy (by use of similarly careful key questions in the survey) then the manager will receive an SMS to his mobile phone; but this solution is less 'immediate' than the original on-site solution mentioned above and could sometimes be slow at notifying the manager; and the customer might have already left the premises. Other issues could be that there is no phone coverage on-site and of course other problems for example that the customer will not install the application (particularly relevent in the case of over 55's because only 25% ever install apps) on their smart phone.

There may well be other solutions in the marketplace but they have yet to be seen in any volume it seems. It's certainly food for thought and these comments about customer complaints handling offer at least something to consider.


Emergency communications
It's a fact that resources for emergencies on-site that are available are critical to saving lives. Consideration for things like staff shortages, power failure, fire, flood or other negative aspects that could affect the efficiency of any emergency service is essential. And with todays sources of danger who knows what emergency teams could end up having to handle... terrorists, fire, personal injury, flooding, building collapse, explosion or any of a hundred other scenarios. And let's not even consider nerve agents. Are you ready? Could your solutions really meet the needs of all of these incredibly difficult emergencies?

But if you operate a small business, a school or other area where people need to be kept in environments that can handle personal safety then it's likely that only some of the above might apply, only you can decide. Take a case where someone is injured during their everyday work. It's usually vital that help is at hand very fast and that's proven over and over to save lives. Solutions like emergency call buttons that message emergency teams are proven to be effective in the UK and have literally saved lives on many occasions.

Thinking of schools in a lockdown situation which is more relevent than ever. There could be many reasons for a lockdown, dangerous dogs on-site, dangerous or threatening people (even parents!), fire or many other aspects of what schools and universities go through regularly. Academy Lockdown (a division of Long Range Systems UK) has a number of solutions that can be used to effectively shut down the school or university and keep children safe. NaCTSO: The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) is a police unit that supports the 'protect and prepare' strands of the government’s counter terrorism strategy and has a government website offering advice.

Most establishments have some input from local councils too regarding lockdown and evading threats. Generally council's offer guidance to help develop a sound procedure that will work. Please check with your local council for their guidance on these subjects.

There are a whole plethora of communications options available that are suitable for almost any situation and those are generaly summed up as:

* Wireless two way radio
* Paging systems
* Internet and IOT related systems

These days wireless two way radios can be harnessed for far more than simple two way radio talk. Solutions available include radio to telephone (whether land line or mobile), radio to email and much more. In fact there has been a recent explosion of features that newer digital radio handsets have started to include as standard. Its also possible to secure any transmission with effective encryption that is nigh on impossible to be unencrypted by third parties. Wireless radios have a multitude of features including alarm handling, teleconnect, nurse call, radio management, web interface, access control and IG/GPS, vehicle monitoring, fleet management, remote monitoring, signage integration, live updates, power monitoring, social monitoring, valuables protection, temporary alarms, lone worker protection and of course internet of things where radios can become an integral part of any solution IOT based.

And any radio system based on specialised things like TETRA or SEPURA are some of the most secure systems of wireless radio communications around; while those solutions are usually used for fire and emergency services (or even councils) these solutions could be used in larger organisations with the obvious benefits and all can be very discreet depending on the exact equipment being utilised. 

Pagers are deemed by many to be 'old technology' and in many respects thats true, but today things are different. With the advent of cloud based communications things have moved up to the 21st century especially where security and lockdown is concerned. It's true that a 'pager is a pager' for sure, but those are generally merely receivers with few exceptions; more important is the ways in which a message could be triggered to a pager rather than the pager being the focus; the pager is the last unit in the communication chain and simply displays what's received whether encrypted or otherwise. For example equipment is available that can monitor an 'open or closed' connection and that product might well be 'internet of things' based. The messaging could be carried out over the cloud and back to other on-site equipment and end up as a message on a simple encrypted pager to all involved. The advantage of course is that the messaging is extremely discreet. There are literally so many options in systems that they are beyond the scope (or limitations) of this document.

But the internet and IOT (internet of things) has rapidly moved forward in the area of security and even emergency monitoring and lockdown. And those systems with the right technology like BLE Bluetooth Low Energy (Version 5 and above) are leading the way. Historically, bluetooth technology was very limited in particular with range, and even today there are many products based on the older technologies of bluetooth. In the much improved and newer BLE that limitation of range has moved from the old 30 metres of range to more like 200 metres of range typically and that changes everything; BLE systems can now track assets, people, change of state of a given device, humidity, water ingress, G force, sound, vibration, location, attitude to horizontal or vertical.. you name it and BLE technologies with cloud based infrastructure are an incredible cutting edge solution for business. The relevence of BLE cannot be underestimated and there is no doubt that BLE technology will be seen much more in every sector of business that you could imagine including yours!

Careful consideration about exactly what you need to achieve, what technology choice you use and of course the financial constraints all add up to what is often a very difficult decision to make for anyone that is not informed about the technologies available. Hopefully this article will at least help to inform readers about some of the options available.


Anthony Mckenzie is the managing director of a company involved with technology solutions for a number of business sectors and also an international reviewer of technology products for vertical sectors of business. 

Technology and its effects on the over 55's in Restaurants to your bottom line profitability

one month ago

The Restaurant business is set for a revolution in technology but could there be looming problems?

Having new technology like mobile phone ordering and tracking, ordering kiosks, custom mobile apps, table location using cell phones, online only ordering and a host of other technologies designed specifically for improving the customer experience sounds like a great idea... but are they?

The rise and rise of the restaurant and eatery since 2007 is wonderful and everyone loves to eat in them. But there are a substantial number of potential customers that cannot use those technologies no matter how they try. And it’s not really their fault!

There is no doubt that technology can improve customers experience. There is a substantial percentage of customers that are not at all savvy with using technology and that is a problem. Consider that the value of fast food restaurants in the UK in 2017 for fast food including takeaways alone was a massive £5.1 Billion but adding up across the whole sector to over £14 Billion and even what seems to be smaller percentages of potential customers adds up to massive loss of business.

While 56% of consumers between the age of 45-64 do use technology in restaurants that leaves a massive 44% of that age group that do not use technology. Indeed, for the USA around 65% of customers over 55 prefer to be served by waiting staff.

Careful consideration of how and where technology is used to improve customer experience is a key consideration for its success, after all who wants to ignore up to 44% of customers because the technology was less than perfect? Remember that the National Restaurant Association says that the number one feature cited by 'baby boomers' was a loyalty and rewards program so integrating that in to customer experience technology creates a win/win situation when enticing that sector of customer in to your restaurant or business.

It is noted that in the UK the government has provided national statistics about personal wealth by age where the average liquid wealth was at its highest between age 55 to 64 so it makes a great deal of sense where technology could be introduced as a customer interface that the technology itself does not turn away the wealthiest people with disposable income in UK from any restaurant or business.

Having a focus towards mobile phone ordering is fine for the younger generations, but most readers will know friends over 55 that struggle daily with their cell phone. Deloitte suggest that there has been a substantial increase of smart phone users over 55 between 2012 and 2017 by as much as 71% change but that certainly is no real reflection of how many of those over 55's use the phone for smart apps. In fact, Deloitte estimates that at least 1 out of 4 consumers aged 55+ who own smartphones have never downloaded a single app. With that level of app use in the 55+ age group those problems for restaurant technology currently remain high on the agenda but seem largely unaddressed by developers and most often ignored by restaurant operators.

It is also worthwhile noting from a recent 'greenlight' survey that where the internet is concerned the over 55's currently spend over £14 Billion through online shopping and are the fastest growing demographic in that area but they tend to be largely ignored by retailers and restaurant customer facing technology development by manufacturers. Bear in mind also that 'greenlight' also commented that for 65+ demographic that spending actually reduces compared to the customer in the 55 to 64 age group. Understanding this fact can help to identify which technology will help or hinder that demographic with the resulting increase in sales.

But technology in restaurants is not just about the front of house customer experience, there are other attributable technologies now appearing in restaurants that directly contribute to the overall customer delivery of quality service such as staff tracking that can provide key metrics about staff efficiencies to improve service levels and reduce costs accordingly.

Thinking about current trends where this same demographic of 55 to 64’s is concerned the payment process can also be a hurdle. While many newer payment methods might involve mobile pay, or server tablets, kiosks or apps, consideration has to be given to the effects those technologies will have in deterring the 55 to 64 age group from visiting any restaurant.

It is clear that over time younger generations will eventually migrate to being older technology savvy customers but ignoring the important 55 to 64 age range is not recommended if your restaurants are catering to that demographic already.

Of course, there are other technologies that ARE friendly for the 55 to 64 demographics out there that don’t involve ANY difficult customer level high technology use by the customer such as a table tracking system by Long Range Systems of Dallas TX, USA. Their ‘Table Tracker’ is simple to use and the only customer involvement is to place a ‘puck’ on the table they choose to be seated at. Service is improved dramatically and it’s a fact that the over 55’s love great service demonstrated by their love for waiter service.

So, there are a number of questions that need addressing where technology is either implemented or might be in the future, things like:

• Are you limiting your own customer base to millennials? If not:

o How does the customer experience technology impinge on potential client involvement of the 55 to 64’s?

o Are you happy insomuch as the highest disposable income sector of 55+ might not visit your restaurant because of technology concerns?

o Have you seriously considered the aspect of customer facing technology affecting your restaurant sales?

• Do you propose further investigation of the technology products you currently use?

o Review currently installed customer facing technology to address 55+ client sector

o Consider the 55+ client base BEFORE committing to technologies that might not attract the 55+ demographic due to the technical complexity when presented to them.

Customer involvement from all adults is king when using technology to enhance customer experience in any restaurant environment especially where sales are concerned.

Anthony Mckenzie is a Managing Director of a company involved with technology solutions for the restaurant sector and also an international reviewer of technology products for vertical sectors of business. Visit lrspagers.co.uk for more information.

The Corporate Manslaughter Act and how to avoid deaths with help from technology.

one month ago

Some while ago back in 2007 the corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide act was intruduced in to law - it became law on the 6th April 2008. The scope of this act is throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland but mutates in to corporate homicide in Scotland. Strangely this legislation is also applicable to Hong Kong.

But what's it all about? and is this legislation just another statute that burdens business down with red tape? And why does it matter to your company? 

The reality is, that these corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide acts are responsible for making the working environment safer. But how was that achieved? The legislation creates a rather large 'stick' towards management right at the top of the chain and responsible people in any company to ensure that employees (or for that matter anyone involved or even visiting their business) are kept completely safe.

If someone gets killed and the death is caused by lack of duty of care by the organisation (corporation, partnership, trade unions, employers associations, police forces, and many government departments to name but a few) then the consequences could be dire. Failure to abide by Health and Safety legislation causing a death creates a 'gross breach' of duty depending on the circumstances.

But this article is not here to advise you about the corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide act as such, but rather to highlight the worst case scenario of failure to adhere to the legislation and the consequences of that failure.

The law and the resulting penalties of those failures can be extreme and a look at Wikipedia will soon confirm that having a lacadazical approach to health and safety or 'doing nothing' to alleviate problems before they result in serious injury or death is not an option. Ultimately the highest levels of management carry the responsibility of any fatality and the management could even end up in prison.

A recent incident in the headlines was the grenfall towers fire and it has been suggested that certain parties involved with that catastrophe may be subject to breach of the corporate manslaughter act. Only time will tell if that is the case, but it highlights the position here in England and how the legislation could have been breached and the serious consequences by large organisations.

But what can be done to make an organisations environment safer and reduce the potential of injury or death? One of the key areas that is critical is the speed of the emergency teams to attend to someone critically in danger or injured that could easily turn in to a fatality. But its easy to say, however in reality it can be a hard problem to solve sometimes because of lack of knowledge of what solutions are available that could help most organisations. Communication in any emergency is also key.

While there are many communication systems out there that could be used to communicate in emergency situations, which ones to choose and impliment is an important factor in ensuring that your organisation is not subject to any breach of the legislation or its consequences thereafter.

Taking a look at wireless two way radios these can offer a good solution for when someone is hurt, but if the person is a lone worker then things can get more cumbersome. Some two way radios include a facility for lone workers and if for example someone was to fall over (even being unconscious) then the two way radio has the ability to 'warn' other members onsite about the situation so they can offer help or investigate the problem. Some two way radios can even notify a mobile phone when there are problems by using other specialised equipment like an 'RSU' unit from LRS UK. A team could easily be notified that someone is down and then attend. Other alternatives include the person 'calling in' every thirty minutes (variable by the system) and if they don't call in then the alarm is raised. But usually the two way radio solution often only identifies 'the area' where the injured person may be and in large organisations that can sometimes be an issue. Working anywhere that is underground or in confined spaces surrounded by metal makes this form of technology a poor choice.

Other solutions that are available include mobile phone based systems, but while mobile based solutions are pretty good for outdoors (assuming that there is phone coverage) but often indoors, underground or in other situations then they tend to be unreliable or not be operational at all. Depending on those mobile phone based solutions could be a challenge if they don't work and someone gets killed.

Similarly, where pendant (or similar device) based on GPS, satellite based or other similar technologies are used, often there are issues when it comes down to operability in many situations (indoors, underground, and even in areas that need to be intrinsically safe) and that need to be carefully considered where lives are concerned. Noone wants a system that only works part of the time do they?

Other equipment includes onsite paging systems that have specific locations for emergency call buttons that can contact emergency staff if there is any incident. Usually these solutions are shorter range than say two way radios, but often the suppliers have the ability to extend the range much further. One company, Long Range Systems UK Ltd (LRS UK), use signal boost repeaters and they recently used just four to cover around 1 square kilometre effectively. One advantage is that these call buttons can be set up to message a whole team of emergency staff. When an emergency call button is pressed, all team members will be messaged. When the first team member arrives he can quickly determine the need for other staff to continue to the emergency, or he can simply 'press a cancel button' that will message other team members to stand down. LRS UK offers both two way radio solutions and emergency call buttons suitable for most sectors of business.

A recent incident in a well known company was commented on about their emergency call buttons and how it was handled; the note read "We had a medical emergency at the Eldon Way site (employee collapsed). A colleague witnessed the incident and immediately pressed the first aid call button which was nearby. The 2 first aiders carrying the pagers on the day were able to respond quickly and deal with the incident. It shows how valuable the system can be in an emergency!" they continued "I was at the Harwood Road and happened to be with one of the first aiders from that site and because of the boosters the signal was also picked up by him. This meant we were also alerted of the incident and went to Eldon Way to assist". The power of the signal boost repeaters was clearly confirmed by the company and the incident was quickly and efficiently dealt with.

Call buttons can be 'battery' operated or mains operated, but in the case of battery operation when batteries run low (after many months of use) management is messaged from the unit automatically confirming exactly which unit needs replacement batteries. Its a great solution where there is no mains supply available onsite, but where there is appropriate mains connectivity that is a better choice.

Lastly, there are huge developments in the area of beacon technology which has been growing steadily for a while. For readers that are unfamiliar with beacons and that type of technology, there are a few different ways of using beacons technically, but they in general tend to work by sensing near field components which may be attached to assets (asset tracking) or even people for their exact location on or off premise (depending on the specific beacon technologies used). BTE technology has long been known for shorter range issues but with BTE 5.1 and above instead of the typical 10 metre range this newer 5.1 technology is reportedly achieving well over 200 metres. Other enhancements to those systems offer even further range for onsite lone worker (or not so lone worker) solutions that are clearly offering many advantages that other technologies simply cannot achieve. Other features dependent on the exact beacon technology being used can even show locations of people or assets on multi floor premises, so if an employee was on floor 12 of a 30 floor building for examle, that employee can be seen on a map and exactly which floor and where he is located on that map. These features are set to change the way lone worker (or even employee location in general) is set to change over the next wave of technology in this sector. And the costs are easily commensurate with low budget figures.

There are of course even more solutions out there, but some of those tend to be very expensive price prohibitive solutions whereas systems like two way radios and emergency call buttons tend to be within the reach of most companies financially and don't really compromise on the operational features for what they are specifically used for.

Of course, there is no solution that guarantees complete communications in every single condition or situation that could apply where someone gets injured or killed; but careful consideration of the systems available out there will ensure that you will end up with an emergency communication solution that is right for you, even a combination of more than one type of system that can offer an overall solid communications channel might work for you. In most instances speed is of the essence and a hit or miss solutions could actually hinder assistance or in the worst situation could lead to a fatality in your organisation. Noone wants that. The fact that your organisation has operational solutions onsite can only be a massive plus in ensuring that the corporate manslaughter act is not something that you will be in breach of any time soon.

Anthony Mckenzie is the managing director of a company involved with technology solutions for a number of business ectors and also an international reviewer of technology products for vertical sectors of business. 

Cooperation

LRS UK now looking for authorised dealers to sell LRS equipment

one month ago

Reseller Info

Join the LRS Reseller Partner Program and offer your customers the best in on-site messaging. We currently own 20 patents and market over 30 products designed to enhance on-site guest and staff communication.

From single shop businesses to recognizable brands, over 80,000 businesses are currently using LRS products. LRS products provide solutions for businesses in many industries, including hospitality, healthcare, education, retail, and manufacturing.

As an official LRS Reseller, you know you’re offering customers quality products and top notch services. LRS represents the best in communication devices for guest notification, staff paging, and business messaging.

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Free training on all LRS products is available at our Stoke on Trent offices and we look forward to working with you.

For further information simply call 01782 537000 and ask for Graham Mckenzie

Integrate Table Tracker or paging solutions in to your ePos back of house systems

one month ago

LRS UK is actively looking to assist epos partners in the UK to integrate our award winning Table Tracker solution in to their ePos solutions. We offer full open API code and assistance to get you integrated as fast and smoothly as possible.

We can also help when it comes down to integrating our staff or guest paging systems in to back of house ePos solutions which will undoubtedly help with sales of your systems.

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