Author Topic: Guest Accounts and Multiple Teams  (Read 2306 times)

jlehman

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Guest Accounts and Multiple Teams
« on: August 07, 2011, 02:31:37 PM »
In the county in which I serve, there are 18 search and rescue teams. Most of these are geographic, and some of them are specific to a function (equestrian, canine, etc.). Earlier there was a thread regarding guest access and management functions. I have a question that expands upon this.

Nearly every mission is a multi-team mission. This means that there are members from several teams that participate in both the management and operation of the incident. At first I thought that we would have a single account for the county, and use the "unit" field to differentiate between the teams. This proved to be impractical because each team has different back-end requirements (different cert requirements, organizational structure, calendars, etc).  I then thought that each team would have a separate account, but that complicates the mission management since there are issues in getting guests into the system (when offline), and guests don't have any management privs.

For example, what happens when a particular team is primarily responsible for a search. Chances are, it is their account that will be used for the management. Now, all the searchers from other teams will have to be entered into the system as guest users. This gets complicated if you are required to work offline, as there is no provision for offline guest users. OK, I  could just get rosters from all the teams ahead of time, and each team could populate the other teams as guest users in their individual accounts. This could work, but guest users are not able to login and perform management functions. Now I am back to thinking a single account for the whole county.

So, what is the best way to structure MM for use in this environment? I suppose we could have a county-wide account that has everybody in the system, and use it for these sorts of events. This would allow mission management outside of the team management (certs, hours, equip, etc). Maybe some functionality that would allow some sort of sync between accounts would be helpful. I am not certain. Any ideas?

Unfortunately, web access is not available in many of our search locations, so I have to plan for an offline experience. This is one of the reasons, that I have proposed the idea of a field server model where the whole thing could be run from a central computer offline (http://www.radishworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=80.0).

Any ideas are appreciated.

JL
Jeff Lehman
San Bernardino County SAR
Cave Team
caverescue.net
sbsar.org

Radishworks

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Re: Guest Accounts and Multiple Teams
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 07:56:13 PM »
I would still recommend against one big giant account for all 18 teams, not only for the reasons you describe (different certs, fields, etc.), but I can honestly see the "who's really in charge" becoming an issue.  Could you trust that all 18 teams are setting security setting correctly?  Having 18 different "admin" level logins seems like a security risk.  I would even venture to say that some of your 18 teams would not want to use MM at all.

If your missions are anything like our missions, you will have the "core" group of people (and teams) who show up on missions.  Once someone is in the system they are there for the next mission.  Its not worth the effort trying to keep the member list perfect for 100% of the people who "might" show up at mission when its a much smaller % who are the "core" members and will need to check in.

The "New Guest Member" will most likely be available in the offline version at some point.  It is actually there now, but disabled, because I haven't figured out the best way to "sync" the same member that comes from different missions, or worse yet the same mission, different computers.  There are solutions, they just require a bit of coding.

Over time the Import/Export of members has gotten better and more flexible to transfer members in and out of MM.  Transferring members between teams this way provides a "firewall" to avoid security issues in your teams data.  If you want to transfer members between teams, I recommend this method.

An offline server is a big technical challenge, not only for MM, but I think setting up a server, network, and clients is far more than most teams want to deal with.  I think the technical support for me would be too high if MM went down this road.  MM was a hobby, its hard to justify making it a job, while trying to keep it free  :D.

Mike



jlehman

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Re: Guest Accounts and Multiple Teams
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2011, 05:19:24 PM »
I wholeheartedly agree that the support would skyrocket if you did have some sort of ad hoc server kind of arrangement. I was just trying to spur conversation to see how others have solved the issue. I would suspect that a sneaker net solution would be easier. A button exports all of the check-ins to a flash drive. Walk the flash drive over to the "management computer" and upload the data. Who knows...I'm just trying to head off foreseeable issues. I suppose that one could cross pollinate people by using the unit field for actual units. We don't have any rank, but we do have levels of membership (probationary, full, etc.). We could use the rank for the membership level, and use the unit for the team. That way people from other teams could live as our members, get granted management permissions as needed, and still be able to be segregated from local team membership.

JL
Jeff Lehman
San Bernardino County SAR
Cave Team
caverescue.net
sbsar.org

Radishworks

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Re: Guest Accounts and Multiple Teams
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 06:00:36 PM »
Discussion is good, I like that  ;D.

My honest answer is time will solve this off-line multi-team, etc. issues.  Over time, I can envision a "sync" teams command where teams could share members at a server level.  A feature like this would involve a lot of security checks so all involved teams had control over what other teams they sharing information with.  Currently, there are a bunch of "firewalls" of sorts between teams to protect their information.   The nice part about using MM (OK I'm bias) is that its helping to get teams that work together on the same page of sorts.  The syncing of teams at some point could be a reality.  Even a state (or larger) wide mutual aid list of members is possible for those teams that might want to be part of something like that.

I also believe the "off-line" issue will become less of an issue over time.  Yeah, I know a lot of team operate outside of cell range, but I really think this will change given more time.  We have been using MM for less than a year and we are already seeing less and less areas without good cell service.  On a recent mission cell service was far better than our radio repeaters.  Satellite is still expensive, but if you look at the cost of satellite phones they have dropped dramatically in the last few years.  I think its only a matter of time for this technology for data to become more main stream. 

Honestly, I never expected MM to get as popular as it's become, time will tell where it goes in the future.

Mike