2-page Partner Case Study
Posted: 4/25/2012
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two10 degrees IT Firm Helps First Responders Save Lives with Cloud-Based Emergency Alert System

two10 degrees (formerly known as Active Web Solutions) created an alert system to help the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) save fishermen’s lives. To make the system affordable, two10 degrees hosted its software on Windows Azure, avoiding a large data center investment. two10 degrees expanded the system to include two-way messaging and connection to multiple emergency services environments. The solution has helped save nine lives and will scale to support millions of devices worldwide.

Business Needs
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) of the United Kingdom asked two10 degrees, a technology consulting firm, to help it save the lives of fishermen at sea. The RNLI wanted to be able to identify the exact location of a man overboard.

two10 degrees partnered with the RNLI to build a system called MOB Guardian, where MOB stands for “man overboard.” The system receives alerts from personal safety devices worn by fishermen (through the Iridium satellite network) and routes them to search and rescue teams. The system is deployed on over 500 commercial fishing vessels.

two10 degrees decided to adopt a hosted-services model for MOB Guardian. Before choosing Windows Azure, it evaluated cloud providers including Google and Amazon, as well as companies that offered virtualized server hosting environments. It also evaluated Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. two10 degrees, a Microsoft Partner Network member, participated in a Windows Azure Lab—a Microsoft workshop in which companies perform accelerated cloud migrations. Soon thereafter, two10 degrees moved a customer’s Java-based Oracle application to Windows Azure “without altering any code,” says Jeremy Barnes, Client Services Director at two10 degrees. “MOB Guardian interfaces with multiple systems, and our public sector customers largely rely on open-source software. The easy interoperability and platform-as-a-service capabilities that Windows Azure offered were key,” says Barnes.

two10 degrees migrated MOB Guardian to Windows Azure. The scalability and affordability enabled the RNLI to offer the life-saving service at a lower cost. But this was just the start for two10 degrees, which then created the Global Alerting Platform (GAP). GAP builds on the alerting capabilities of MOB Guardian and includes support for two-way communications, rich messaging, and complex message routing and translation. In addition, the expanded system can be used with a variety of devices, including phones enabled with a global positioning system, including the new Iridium Extreme satellite phone. The system is now being used for terrestrial as well as maritime applications.

“Windows Azure is allowing us to scale out without having to build our own data centers,” says Richard Prodger, Technical Director at two10 degrees. “It’s allowing us to keep pace with demand.”

* MOB Guardian and GAP have helped the RNLI to save nine lives. We’ve proven that Windows Azure is a reliable platform for delivering safety-of-life systems. *
Jeremy Barnes
Client Services Director, two10 degrees
When a GAP user such as a forest service employee triggers an alert from a satellite-enabled device, a message is securely routed to emergency services providers such as national forest search and rescue teams or 911 responders. GAP is powered by Windows Azure across a global network of data centers and also uses Microsoft SQL Azure and Windows Azure Storage to manage and store messages. Windows Azure AppFabric provides connections to the on-premises infrastructure. With two-way communications, rescuers can send a message back to tell someone that help is on the way.

GAP acts as a gateway to terrestrial messaging systems from the satellite network, so messages can be delivered in a number of ways. GAP can deliver position reports, email messages, simple text messages, and even messages on social media platforms such as Twitter. “Antarctic explorers can tweet their location to friends,” explains Barnes.

Windows Azure has enabled two10 degrees to build a global system. The solution is scalable, cost-effective, and has proven to help save lives.

Scalable, Global Infrastructure
Windows Azure provides a global network of interconnected data centers to deliver GAP services to markets worldwide.

“Windows Azure allows us to offer high quality services anywhere,” says Prodger.

The widespread distribution of the data centers supporting Windows Azure helps two10 degrees resolve customer concerns about latency. “With Windows Azure, we can scale to support millions of customers, devices, and messages in a global marketplace,” says Prodger.

Furthermore, Windows Azure security enables two10 degrees to reassure its customers about confidentiality.

Reduced Capital Expenditures for Search and Rescue
Using Windows Azure, two10 degrees avoided a large investment in servers and hosting. The investment would have made it difficult for two10 degrees to provide a cost-effective service. Further, with Windows Azure, two10 degrees customers do not have to pay upfront licensing fees or purchase hardware. “Now, we can provide an affordable, life-saving service. The pay-as-you-go Windows Azure pricing model helps us eliminate barriers to entry for emergency services providers, who are often operating on limited budgets,” says Barnes.

Reliable Platform for Safety-of-Life Systems
Reliability is paramount for systems involving safety of life. Running on the highly available, service-managed Windows Azure environment, GAP makes crucial connections around the clock among emergency services systems in life-saving situations where seconds matter. “The low cost of Windows Azure makes redundancy affordable and further allows us to provide 24/7 operations, 365 days a year. MOB Guardian and GAP have helped the RNLI to save nine lives. We’ve proven that Windows Azure is a reliable platform for delivering safety-of-life systems,” says Barnes.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 22 employees

Partner Profile

two10 degrees, based in Ipswich, United Kingdom, builds software solutions for a range of customers and industries, with a special focus on cloud computing.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft SQL Azure

Vertical Industries
  • IT Services
  • Public Safety & Justice

United Kingdom

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Enterprise Project Management
  • Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue