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And “everything” has also now changed with current broadband speeds and the proliferation of wireless networks, smart-phones, laptops and tablets. Many if not most of us are now rather constantly connected to the Internet and the prospects are that this will be true generally in the future.
In this evolution, sending attachments by insecure email has long troubled me. I have wanted a tool where there is a higher level of security (“https” encryption and user id/pw security) and a clear record of what files have been sent to and accessed by whom. My prayers have finally been answered in the form of The Mediate Cloud. Very specifically, the Mediate Cloud gives me what I need to accomplish file sharing security and party/attorney 365/24/7 involvement. This secure file sharing “changes everything” for me once more.
While this will not happen over night, it is my prediction, with secure cloud-based file sharing and back up systems now available for under $1000/yr, that the “community standard” for professional file sharing will now move away from insecure and risky email and toward much more capable and secure cloud-based file sharing systems. Sending important case attachments by ordinary email may well soon be malpractice.
The concept of “the cloud” (really clouds) should now be familiar to most. Gmail is a cloud, as is eBay, Netflix, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, iTunes, you name it. Much of our Internet use has gravitated away from our specific machine or device to now have both the software and needed hardware being “out there in the clouds.”
This “living in the clouds” is all quite good in the sense that it supports us always having our files available on any of our multiple devices. Operations based in the clouds are also allowing professionals and programs to both provide qualitatively better service save money. When “operating in the cloud,” you do not generally need to worry about what particular computer or operating system or browser a staff member, client or attorney is using. What is needed is provided “in the cloud.”
The whole Google docs system is an example of a cloud-based system where both the software and file storage are provided by the Google cloud. From a dispute resolution perspective, this is, however, less than optimal in that, once loaded into Google system, documents are uniquely formatted for that Google system, and also because Google log-ins themselves may be shared and for multiple purposes. Finally, certain functionalities, including a comprehensive access log, file locking, email notification and back up are lacking.
All of this sets the stage for why I am so thrilled with the Mediate.com Cloud. We have tailored cloud-services to the needs of ADR programs and professionals. The Mediate Cloud offers exactly what ADR professionals and programs need to move beyond scattered and insecure file sharing by email attachment. Critically, the Mediate Cloud system also effectively supports end user, attorney and expert 365/24/7 access and case involvement.
Cloud-Based Secure & Authorized File Sharing
Mediate’s Cloud provides numerous features to support file sharing and collaboration. The first step (after getting your own private cloud) is to create personal and shared permission-based folders. These folders might correspond to each case, perhaps be for each staff, as well as topical folders. In addition to file sharing via shared folders, the Mediate Cloud provides other easy to use cloud-based file management features, including:
- File versioning
- File locking (check in/check out)
- File upload notification options
- Flexible file sharing options
- File annotations
File notification is especially helpful in advising those involved in a case that there is a new file ready to review.
The Mediate Cloud is an easy-to-use online storage solution for storing files of any size or type online in secure permission-based folders. Starter clouds are available in two sizes: 150 gigabyte and 1 Terabyte. Because folder access is permission governed, you have full control over who has read, write and delete privileges for every folder at every level for both individual users and groups. For example, you can create a panelist folder that is accessible only to panelists. Similarly, you can have a folder that all staff are allowed to access - and, critically, you can also have any number of specific "case" folders within your online cloud that specific participants, attorneys and authorized professionals can securely access.
Your secure cloud should be configured to provide you with automatic backup of your computer on a scheduled, continual or on-demand basis. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the backup application, it will recommend specific folders for back up. For example, on a Windows computer, the default recommendations are "My Documents" and your "Desktop Folder.” You can accept these defaults or identify other folders computer for back up.
Access control over files
In the Mediate Cloud, users can be designated to have Read Only, Read/Write or Read/Write/Delete permissions to the folders they are permitted to view, which in turn determines the actions they can perform on the files in that folder. For example, a user with Read Only access can view and download files, but they cannot edit, upload or delete files.
Securely access files from any computer or device
The Mediate Cloud facilitates "on-the-go" collaboration. Users can access the cloud using a standard Web browser or smartphone. Regardless of how you access the Mediate Cloud, folder permissions are always enforced.
File versioning ensures that when a change is made to a file stored on the Mediate Cloud, a newer version is automatically created and is added to the folder containing the earlier version. File versions are stamped by time and with the name of the user who made changes to the file. Instead of simply overwriting an existing file, file versioning maintains a complete document history for auditing file changes made over time and preventing accidental deletions.
The system will automatically lock files when users open them for editing. In addition, users can manually lock and unlock files. Once a file is checked out (or locked), other users can view the file, but cannot edit or upload changes. This ensures that users are always modifying files collaboratively, rather than working at cross-purposes.
File changes notifications
File notifications are email notifications that are automatically triggered when new files are added to a specific folder or existing files are changed. Notifications are sent out to all users who have access to that particular file, indicating who changed the file and the time of the change. Notifications may be schedule and turned on or off.
Flexible file sharing options
For sharing files easily or distributing them to a large group, the Mediate Cloud provides File sharing via link (URL) and Public folders.
File sharing via link
File sharing via link enables you to create a link (URL) to one or more of your files that can easily be emailed, embedded in a .PDF or Word file document or made available on any 3rd party application or website such as Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. Designed specifically for use with large files or when you want to share a file with a large number of users, files are automatically downloaded when a recipient clicks on the link; there’s no need to require them to login to the cloud. You can also choose to have the link expire after a chosen time period (e.g. 7 days).
Public folders are file repositories that are shared via links; they function much the same as files shared via links, except that the link directs the recipient to a folder rather than a file. When a recipient clicks on the link, they get access to the files in that folder without logging in to Mediate Cloud.
File annotations allow users the ability to enter comments about files.
Perhaps you can now understand why I am so excited and why “the cloud changes everything.” With your own secure cloud, you can now back up and manage your computer files in the ways that I have long wished, confidently and securely. Best of all, the cloud allows us to invite participants, attorneys, experts and authorized others to specifically review and, as authorized, post files. This 265/24/7 involvement, including flexible email notification options, is a game changer for me as an ADR professional. This is really good stuff. This changes everything.
Information on the Mediate Cloud is at: www.mediate.com/Cloud
Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 and has served as CEO of Mediate.com ever since. Mediate.com received the American Bar Association's 2010 Institutional Problem Solver Award.
Before Mediate.com, Jim founded The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon in 1983 and served as Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM) from 1987 to 1993. Jim was also the first President and Executive Director of the Oregon Mediation Association (1985-86).
Jim has received the following awards:
Jim's undergraduate degree is in in psychology from Stanford University and his law degree is from the University of Oregon.
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