S.Atlantic : Volunteer Monitors Wanted for Falklands
Submitted by SARTMA.com (Juanita Brock) 13.03.2010 (Article Archived on 27.03.2010)
When the Internet becomes slow or unreliable we notice. If we are at work, we might not be able to do our job properly.
VOLUNTEER MONITORS WANTED FOR FALKLANDS
By Chris Gare
When the Internet becomes slow or unreliable we notice. If we are at work, we might not be able to do our job properly. If we are at home, we can become frustrated and even angry at not being able to use the Internet applications we rely on. Overall, poor performance has consequences for society in general if it affects our ability to work, learn and play.
When this happens, we all react in a very human way. We might become annoyed or we might 'put up with' or tolerate an application for a while. Asked how we feel about an application's performance we might say, "it was poor" or "it was bad". Unfortunately, whilst we understand such qualitative language, this is of not of much use when objectively quantifying the performance of an Internet service.
In December 2009, Actual Experience (www.actual-experience.com) was contracted by the Falkland Island Government to start observing the performance of the islandís Internet service using its Perception Quality software. This was triggered by C&Wís announcement that it was upgrading its satellite link bandwidth used for its Internet service. It was thought that it would be informative to understand whether the upgrade led to an improved service. Observation did show a small improvement.
Actual Experience is a spin-out from Queen Mary, University of London, which quantifies and diagnoses the human perception of internet performance. Perceptual Quality, or 'PQ', is a powerful way of understanding internet performance in a simple and non-technical manner that is designed to make intuitive sense to individuals because it is a quantification of human experience that individuals can relate to.
Actual Experience ĎAgentí software, which runs on personal computers, measures the perceived human experience of applications by acting as an automated proxy for the experience of a human user. Using complex algorithms, ĎPerception Quality Scoresí are calculated centrally by an Analytics Engine using data collected by ĎAgentsí, which can be used as a benchmark indicator as to whether a service is improving or deteriorating over time in terms of actual human experience. Not only that, but when perceived experience deteriorates, the Analytics Engine can establish precisely which piece of network or server infrastructure is to blame, which can help operators fix real performance issues.
The initial Falkland Islands observation activity was limited to two installed Agents that were observing Gold and Bronze services. It is now planned to considerably widen observation by monitoring a broader group of services to obtain statistically meaningful data. This will cover a greater geography e.g. Camp and MPA and include all the methods that are used on the island to access the Internet, for example, direct copper and fibre in Stanley and WiMax radio in Camp.
To achieve this, the FIG are looking individual and business volunteers who are willing to run an Actual Experience Agent on their personal computer to provide data that will contribute to an on-going quantitative assessment of Internet performance on the island. The benefit to you is that your own experience of using the Internet will be included (anonymously) in regularly published reports about the PQ of the Islandís Internet service.
We would like to stress that being a volunteer is not onerous in terms of time or data budgets, so if you would like to find out more about what is involved, please go to www.gare.co.uk/volunteer.htm and download the Guidelines. Please complete the on-line form that can be accessed from that page if you do decide to go ahead.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Please contact Chris Gare at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Pickup at email@example.com for questions.