My Universal Presence Status ( MUPS )
I think the time is now ripe for the world to have a Universal Presence Status as a global standard that will be used by all human beings who have a mobile phone and all apps in the world.
Being connected 24 hours of the day, 7 days of the week, 365 or 366 days of the year irrespective of whether you are on vacation or at work, in any part of the world and irrespective of what activity you are engaged in, means that you are available to the world ; to be called, to be sent a message, to be sent an email, to be sent a picture, video or song – by your boss or your team, your customer or your vendor, your family and relatives, your friends and foes and or any pesky marketer.
The easy option to switch off the phone does NOT exist for most of us. The not reachable status is something that we all put up with very reluctantly only when we are not in the range of the telecom network or when we are on a plane (I guess that could also change soon) or when sadly we have a dead battery. With personal and professional lives so closely intertwined and with families, friends and work teams dispersed all over the world, the need to reach out and to be reached is a perennial and ubiquitous need. The only way to describe this phenomenal state of our lives is actually the simplest of sentences.
Presence is Always.
Yes. We all want to stay connected and not be switched off. But we do NOT want to be called or contacted all the time and at any time. However the other side is that the caller often does not have any clue as to where you are and what you are doing when they decide to call you or contact you through a message or a mail. You could receive a call in the middle of the night in your deep sleep, because the caller does not know that you are in another time zone. You are driving, but your callers cannot know that when they decide to call you and so on.
The question is “If the caller could know your status, would they take an appropriate decision about calling you depending on your status?” I would and my guess is that a vast majority of people would and most people would agree. For example, If a person knew that you were sleeping, or you were driving they would postpone calling you to another time. If a person knew that you are in a meeting, then they could choose to send you a text message rather than call you. Depending on your status, the caller would make the right choice and you would definitely be less disturbed when you do not want to be.
Given that by and large most reasonable people would make appropriate choices about calling if they knew your presence status, what remains to be done is to define the “Presence Status” into a universally acceptable global standard and implement the technology to communicate the status or make that status visible to the caller before the call is put through. Let us see how these two can be achieved.
Introducing “My Universal Presence Status”
The first aspect of the MUPS (My Universal Presence Status) is that it is personal; it belongs to a person and that is why it is called the MY Universal Presence Status. It is “My” and therefore the MUPS is determined and voluntarily declared by the individual for himself or herself. It is a declaration that is visible and applicable to anybody in the world who seeks to contact the person.
The second and very important aspect is that it has to be universal – applicable across geographies, cultures, different people and across technologies too and needless to say it has to be simple if it has to find adoption across the board rather across the globe. Universal also implies that it is one single presence status of yours that is applicable to all people not just to your friends or family. It is your status and that is universal.
To be simple it has to be ONE Character. And that character cannot be in any language even English for it to be accepted across different language speaking people. So it has to be a numeric. That leaves us with 10 possible characters, each representing a unique status.
So the possible MUPS are as follows :
|MUPS||MUPS LEGEND||MUPS EXPLANATION|
|1||Available||Can speak, message and email – all OK|
|2||Urgent / Critical||Only if urgent, critical, emergency can speak and message|
|3||Messages only||Cannot speak, but can receive and send messages|
|4||Can’t respond||Can receive and read a message but may not be able to act or respond|
|5||At Work||At work, response can vary depending on caller or message|
|6||Personal / Family||With family or at a concert, game or prayer|
|7||Vacation||Taking a break from work, on leave, on vacation|
|8||Driving||Driving any transport or some machinery|
|0||Not Available||Not available to take calls, read messages and emails – NO|
A person sets his/her MUPS ( My Universal Presence Status) voluntarily themselves on their phone. A person can change the MUPS any time and any number of times. The default setting for the MUPS could be 1 if the person chooses not to set it.
The MUPS standard is intuitive and easily understood. Starting from 1 which means ready availability all the way down to 0 which means absolutely NO to any kind of communication it progresses to varying degrees of availability. The MUPS is not a simple binary available or not available. This is achieved by switch off and on. The underlying principle is that you are connected and there is presence; the need is to communicate a meaningful stance about your status so that the caller can use that input to decide on the action for communication.
The MUPS system is dependent hugely not only on a universal and common understanding of the statuses, but also on the exercise of discretion by the caller / communicator based on the status. The MUPS does not tell the intending caller what to do, it merely communicates a certain status and leaves it to the discretion of the caller to make a choice about the communication, its form or its deferment.
Here is a detailed explanation of each of the statuses
- Available – for calls, chats, messages, email and any form of communication, the person is literally telling the whole world go ahead and communicate with me.
“ Go ahead call me or text me or email me I am game
2. Urgent / Critical – the person is not free but is available if the need for communication is urgent or critical
“ I am not free, but I can attend to an urgent, emergency or critical communication – go ahead and call me only if it is really so”
3. Messages only – the person is not in a position to take voice calls, but is ready to receive non intrusive communication like texts, SMS, or emails.
“I am not free and cannot speak or listen to audio – send me a text and I will respond or act”
4. Can’t respond – the person is open to knowing what you want to communicate and may be able to read it, but is unable to respond. So do not expect a reply or any other action, but your communication will be received.
“I am not free, cannot speak or listen, cannot respond even by text, but okay to receive the message and will act or respond afterwards”
5. At Work – the person is at Work doing what people do at work depending on their profession and may or may not be able to communicate. Work for a surgeon may mean he is at the operating theatre performing surgery, for an actor or speaker he may be on stage or for an executive being at a meeting. It’s dicey, but a very normal status for most of us who have a job.
“ I am at my work – depending on who you are and what the matter is, I may or may not respond”
6. With Family /Leisure /personal time– same as above
“ I am spending time with the family, or I am at a game or concert or at prayer”
7. On Vacation – if you are a co worker or the call is about work please desist.
“ I am on vacation, on leave – taking a break from my work”
8. Driving – this is simple – the person is driving a car or some other transport or some machinery and therefore needs to focus on the vehicle and the road so cannot be disturbed.
“ I am driving”
9. Sleeping – Do not call, Do not Text or even send an email because all these send silly beeps and alerts that could disturb sleep.
“I am sleeping”
0. Not Available – a Clear NO. The person is in a situation where he / she does not want to be disturbed in any way whatsoever whatever be the reason.
Technical Implementation – Let us now see how this can be implemented and what it will take.
- 1. Voice Calls
The most important implementation of the MUPS needs to be done on Voice Systems because it is the voice call that is most disturbing and intrusive when not wanted. The sole purpose of the MUPS is to enhance the quality of life of mobile phone users by letting callers know the presence status of the called person before the call is made. Given the knowledge of the person’s status the caller would exercise discretion and take an appropriate decision about calling the person.
The implementation requires to be done at two dimensions.one on the phone and at the mobile network of the telcos.
- On the phone a simple APP presents an interface to the user showing the 10 choices of the MUPS and accepts a choice from the user as one of the ten 1-0 numbers. (This will eventually get embedded in the operating system of the phone in a few years is my guess).Once this choice is made by the user, the phone remembers this choice till it is changed and passes on this information (just one numeric character of the MUPS) to the layer that handles the calls and the connection to the mobile network.
- The phone is in constant communication with the mobile phone towers irrespective of the technology used in the mobile telephone systems, be it GSM, CDMA, 2G, 3G, 4G or LTE or anything else that may evolve. The phone exchanges a set of information with the mobile tower and to the mobile network. All that needs to be done is to introduce the MUPS character as one additional character or in lieu of an existing blank or unused character in that communication. So now the mobile network will know not only the other details about the user’s phone but also the MUPS of the user.
- When a call is originated, the mobile network determines the availability of the caller and proceeds to connect the call ; now what changes is this. When the mobile network determines the availability of the caller’s phone and the positive feasibility of making the call, it just picks up the MUPS of the phone user that has already come in and available on the network and communicates the MUPS alone to the caller. Soon after the caller has pressed the dial button, the network sends back the MUPS of the called person to the caller’s phone, the MUPS flashes on the phone for a few seconds giving the caller the opportunity to decide whether to continue the call or disconnect based on the MUPS and the caller’s judgement of appropriateness vis a vis the MUPS and the subject of the call. If the caller ignores the MUPS and does not act, the call proceeds as usual and gets connected.
- This implementation does introduce one step in the calling process and modifying the calling process is not a trivial matter, but it surely can be done. It is after all a choice and discretionary; It’s usage will evolve and develop and get embedded into our lives and language. If universal opinion veers around the conclusion that this feature will enhance the quality of our lives, it will get not only implemented but used.
- 2. Messaging or Text technical Implementation
- The implementation of the MUPS is relatively easy in a messaging application like WhatsApp, chat on or me chat or such apps. Also other apps like Facebook and Google that also maintain online status. Most of these apps already have the ability to know presence and to also communicate the presence to the person wishing to send a message.
- The app needs to build a functionality that allows a user to choose the MUPS from the application or pick it up from the phones’ MUPS app if it already exists. Instead of merely showing the status as “online” or “last seen at” the system picks up the MUPs status and shows it to the user when the user attempts send a message to the receiver.
- This does not require any intervention from the mobile network operators and can be done with speed by the owners of the apps. Once these apps develop this capability to show the MUPS, even voice callers can check MUPS from these apps and then decide about calling.
The concept of the MUPS and its implementation, its desirability and its impact will all be larger than the introductory points described here. They will be discussed and debated and the world will find the right way. When we all signed up for using mobile phones, we never estimated that it would become so closely entwined with our all our lives and at all times. The benefits have been beyond doubt or discussion, but I think we are now ready for this next step of the MUPS that will enable us to enjoy it with responsibility.
Anantha Sayana, Mumbai India 31 March 2014. (firstname.lastname@example.org)