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Service Disruption Report

The M3Central service was unavailable from 02:16 4 April 2017 to 07:00 5 April 2017. This was caused by a failure at the hosting provider, which in turn was caused by a third party which was updating the software that runs their infrastructure. The third party's actions caused the system to overload and took down not only several servers but the hosting provider's management access to them.

The hosting provider has acknowledged that its communication with its customers, M3 included, was 'consistently passive and uninformative' so that M3 then had no information to give to our own customers. They have reviewed their processes in this regard and we have accepted their commitment to improve on communication quality and standards.

The hosting provider has also reviewed the upgrading process with its third party supplier and identified the reason for the overload and how to avoid a similar problem in the future.

Jump to:

Getting started
Customising
Differences between M3Central and M3Housecall and M3Locator Plus
Hosting
Security and privacy
Tips and tricks

Getting started

Can I get both M3Central Reporting and M3Central Diagnostics?

You may subscribe to either M3Central Reporting or M3Central Diagnostics or both. If you subscribe to M3Central Diagnostics, you will be entitled to a licence for M3Locator Plus – M3’s desktop software for repair diagnostics – at no extra charge.

It seems that M3Central Diagnostics and M3Locator Plus often work together. Do we have to purchase both of these systems separately?

As an M3Central Diagnostics subscriber, you have a free license for M3Locator Plus, so you can continue to use M3Locator Plus’s existing integration with leading housing management systems, while knowing that you are also covered for use on a web-based system. 

How would it work if I wanted both M3Central Reporting and M3Central Diagnostics?

If you subscribe to both modes – M3Central Reporting and M3Central Diagnostics – you can switch from one mode to the other by amending your link to the service. 

What is the difference between M3Central Reporting and M3Central Diagnostics?

M3Central comes in two modes: Reporting and Diagnostics.

M3Central Reporting is intended primarily for tenants and residents to enable them to report repair problems as accurately as possible. It is also used by staff, especially peripatetic workers and resident staff, to report repair problems on behalf of residents.

M3Central Diagnostics is intended for both technical and non-technical staff who work with a Schedule of Rates. By default M3Central provides access to the M3NHF Schedule of Rates but it can host any Schedule of Rates, whether based on the NHF Schedule of Rates or not. 

What does the Control Panel do?

All subscribers have access to a control panel. This allows you to view the database that holds details of repair reports made via M3Central Reporting and allows you to change settings such as the default Schedule of Rates and set up email addresses and URLs to get data in and out of the system. The control panel also allows you to download resources such as the list of repair problems as MS Excel spreadsheets. 

Customising

Can M3Central be customised?

The Control Panel has an online editor with which you can customise any of the available resources including, but not restricted to, the repair problems, the advice, and the Schedule of Rates itself. Plus, you will be able to test all changes before making them available to your users. 

As well as the settings in the Control Panel, you can also have different versions of M3Central by modifying the link to the service.

What sort of changes can be made to M3Central by modifying the link?
  • Schedule of Rates: you can override the default Schedule of Rates to load up any others for which you are licensed.
  • Endpoints: you can have one version that sends reports by email and another version that sends reports directly to their server.
  • Deep links: you can point M3Central to specific pages and even tell it to open a specific dialog, which could, for example, be used as part of a scripted response to assist staff who are responding to repair reports over the phone.
Can M3Central be integrated with our own system?

M3Central can be used standalone or it can be incorporated as a component of a larger system. These systems can then integrate M3Central in a way that is seamless to the user. Many of the major suppliers have already integrated M3Central and others are planning to do so. Some of our larger customers have integrated M3Central with their own in-house systems. 

Differences between M3Central and M3Housecall and M3Locator Plus

What is the difference between M3Central Reporting and M3Housecall?

M3Central Reporting is effectively an upgraded version of M3Housecall. It has two principal advantages over M3Housecall:

  1. M3Central Reporting is designed to work across all types of devices and works well with both touchscreens and small screens.
  2. M3Central Reporting is highly customizable – you can modify it to your requirements without needing to come back to M3 to make amendments.
Why is M3Housecall still available?

Despite the fact that M3Central Reporting is basically an upgraded version of M3Housecall, M3Housecall remains available for two main reasons:

  1. Due to its flexibility and the extent to which customers can amend M3Central Reporting, it is not possible to offer multiple languages like M3Housecall does.  

  1. Because M3Central Reporting is designed to be embedded inside other web pages, M3 does not offer the extensive branding service that is available with M3Housecall. 
What happens to our old reports if we switch to M3Central Reporting from M3Housecall?

M3Central and M3Housecall share the same database so you can switch over without losing access to all your historic reports. 

How does M3Central Diagnostics differ from M3Locator Plus?

M3Central Diagnostics has two principal use cases which distinguishes it from M3Locator Plus:

  1. Integration with web-based systems – if your housing management or repair ordering system is based on web protocols (whether internally hosted or not), then M3Central Diagnostics is likely to be a better fit than our desktop system, M3Locator Plus.

  2. Out-of-the-office staff use – M3Central Diagnostics is usable on any device with an internet connection. Staff can save schedules created on site and open them in M3Locator Plus when back in the office. If their repairs ordering system is integrated with M3Locator Plus, they can then send the items through.

Hosting

Where is M3Central hosted?

M3Central is a web application that runs on M3 servers hosted in a UK-based data centre (technical details of the data centre infrastructure are available on request). M3 does not offer an option to host the system locally. 

Security and privacy

How secure is the connection to M3Central?

M3Central can be secured with SSL by switching the protocol from http to https. This is especially important if the hosting service that connects with M3Central is also secured with SSL.

What is M3Central’s approach to user privacy?

Although M3Central does not require users to enter confidential information, such as financial or medical information, we still take user privacy very seriously.

By default, M3Central Reporting does not store any user information in its database, although customers can elect to do this. The system is P3P compliant and has a comprehensive privacy policy, which also covers its use of cookies.

Tips and tricks

Does M3Central work offline?

By default M3Central stores all user selections (whether repair reports or Schedule of Rates items) in the browser’s local storage and automatically retrieves them. This means that if a user loses their connection, they will not lose their selections, which will be retrieved when they connect again. In addition, the M3 road map for M3Central includes extending its offline capabilities so more operations can be completed without a live internet connection.

How does M3Central hold our organisation’s data?

M3Central holds customer data (if the option to store this has been selected) and repair reports in a database that runs on a separate server. Each customer also has their own area where their amendments are held.

M3Central always checks for customer-specific resources first, before loading the common ones. You can also download any of the available resources as Excel spreadsheets. This includes, but is not restricted to, the advice, the repair problems, your repair reports (M3Central Reporting only) and the Schedule of Rates (M3Central Diagnostics only). 

What would a typical report from M3Central Reporting look like and contain?

What would a typical report from M3Central Reporting look like and contain?

Email reports are delivered as plain text and POSTs as XML. Email reports can be configured so that your email address appears in the “from” field of the address, allowing you to provide an automatic acknowledgement to the user.

Whatever the format, repair reports all contain similar information. Details of the repair problem delivered by email will look like this:

Category: Walls and Floors

Problem involves: Plaster problems

Repair concerns: Plaster cracked

Details: Cracks need filling

 

Reports from M3Central Reporting may also contain:

  •       comments added by the user
  •       a pre-defined location, if you choose to provide this option
  •       links to photographs uploaded by the user, if you choose to provide this option
How would we receive data reports from M3Central Reporting?

M3Central Reporting delivers repair reports either by email or by a POST to a server. You can use either method, or both, adjusting them to suit your needs.