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Sofia with Cisco Spark and Cisco Tropo

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We use Cisco Spark and Tropo as an innovative way to enter physical spaces. Spark has been used to create a Rapid Chat Based Users Support service for customers. On the other hand, Tropo has been used as an alternative way to reach a remote cloud service via a standard GSM network. For instance, in one application, we used Tropo to support shared accesses in condominiums; in another, to allow traditional mobile phones (non-smartphones) devices to unlock our smart locks.

We integrated Cisco Spark to introduce a Rapid Chat Based Users Support service for our customers. Thanks to the integration of Cisco Spark, our User Support can gain an important instrument to easily interact with our cloud based access control system. From the Cisco Spark interface, our users-support technicians will be able to send command like “Request a new Access Grant” or “Open this specific door for this specific user” via chat. This kind of integration will decrease the response time of our users support center. The specific use case that is possible to image is: a user is in front of a door lock without having the access grant to open that lock; she calls our Tropo-enabled customer service and through an IVR-Interactive voice response starts talking with the customer care. The user asks the customer care to obtain the access to the specific lock; the customer care uses Spark to get information about the reasons why the users wants to enter that door in the dedicated department. When the customer care has gathered the information, using the Spark integrated command “Request a new Access Grant for a Specific User” can send an access grant directly to the user: the command inserted in Spark is sent to Jago; Jago sends the authorization to the user via SMS using Tropo, or via Push Notification.

We integrated also Cisco Tropo to have a GSM communication channel towards our smart locks. We imaginated two possible use cases. Let’s start with the first application: often, in a condominium, there is a shared access door to access the property from outside, i.e. the shared main entrance. Such entrance is usually an electrified door that can be opened from within the apartment using an intercom. In order to guarantee the access to the apartments in condominiums, we need a device able to being connected to an intercom device to give the open signal for the shared access door. On the market, GSM based solutions are available (simple boards that can close a contact when a phone call is received from a set of Telephone numbers). Within this scenario, Tropo is the perfect bridge between our service and the GAM device attached to the intercom.

The second case study is related to the support of traditional mobile phones. Our access control system is designed to be used with smartphones capable to interact with the smart lock via a Bluetooth Low Energy communication channel. This implies that older - but still very common - devices cannot be used with our system: Tropo comes to rescue. Our system is composed of a cloud service containing all the valid credentials, a set smartphones enabled to query the cloud to get a valid credential and a set of smart locks that can be opened only with valid credentials. We are now planning to introduce another piece of hardware: an access control gateway. Such device gives us a more scalable and reliable infrastructure while introducing some additional features, like the remote programming of NFC based cards (we are not giving technical details about this point for brevity). Alongside with such interesting additional features, the introduction of a fog-gateway would give us the possibility to enable non-smartphones devices to open a smart lock, following this procedure: the standard mobile device asks for credential to the Tropo enhanced cloud service via SMS or via an IVR assisted phone call. Our cloud is invoked and verifies whether the user has the authorization to get the required credential; if so, the cloud notifies the indoor-gateway to open the door. Tropo is needed to manage the GSM communication between the standard phone device and the cloud service.

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