Vismo used by Leading UCL Research Team at Remote Volcanoes

Leading UCL lecturer, Dr Emma Liu, and her research team, take Vismo to Earth’s most remote volcanoes for essential monitoring and constant tracking. 

Read about Dr Liu’s trip below:

Satellite communication from Vismo supports research team working at some of the most remote volcanoes on Earth

Mobile communication solutions are an essential part of any expedition planning, particularly for those teams or individuals heading to remote places. “As research takes scientists to ever more extreme environments, satellite-based solutions have revolutionised the support available to help them keep in contact” says Vismo, the global tracking solution company.

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In January 2020, Dr Emma Liu, a Lecturer in Volcanology at the University College London, set sail on a five week ocean expedition to the South Sandwich Islands. Together with Dr Kieran Wood from the University of Bristol, their aim was to measure and sample the volcanic gases being emitted from this remote and unexplored chain of volcanoes in the Southern Ocean.

“We knew that at our furthest point we would be more than eight hundred miles from the nearest civilisation. Our closest neighbours were on the international space station! In such a situation, it is a great reassurance to have the ability to contact a support network in the event of an emergency” says Emma. “This is why we contacted Vismo”.

clarke rocksIn addition to volcanological research, the multi-disciplinary expedition team aboard the Pelagic Australis sailing yacht included penguin ecologists, glaciologists, a whale biologist, an expedition medic and a media team. “The South Sandwich Islands have only been visited by a handful of scientists, and fewer still have attempted to land ashore. We were a strong team, with lots of experience on board, so this was a unique opportunity for inter-disciplinary science”, says Emma.

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“During the expedition, I was working with Dr Tom Hart, University of Oxford, to explore the impact of volcanic activity on one of the largest known penguin colonies on Earth. A population census in 2012, prior to a large eruption in 2016, indicated several tens of thousands of Chinstrap and Adelie penguins on Saunders Island. We were interested to discover the impact of this eruption on the health of the colony, and how they have responded to persistent toxic volcanic gas emissions since.” Emma adds. “I was also fascinated to find out about t

he chemical composition of the volcanic gases being emitted into the atmosphere, and to assess the emission rate of major gases such as carbon dioxide”.

Emma had been supported by Vismo on a previous expedition to Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, Tanzania (with PhD student Kate Laxton, also from UCL; read more here), where satellite communication had proved invaluable. Emma explains “We were able to seek medical advice from emergency services in the UK that set our mind at rest when one of the team fell ill. We also used Vismo’s continuous tracking facility, which updated our location every 20 minutes and could be viewed by our support team back at UCL. Given the success of communications during this expedition to Africa, my first port of call when I knew I was headed to somewhere even more remote was Vismo”.

Emma adds, “Vismo advisors suggested the Iridium Extreme satellite phone for my communication needs. The hardware support I received from Vismo was second to none. They set up all the hardware and arranged the call plan leaving me free to concentrate on preparing the scientific equipment”.

Satellite comms offer a flexible solution for field research

In addition to emergency comms, Emma and her team found satellite communication to be essential on a day to day basis. “We would land ashore each morning and hike far up the volcano to make our measurements. Although equipped with VHF radios to contact the sailing vessel and other teams ashore, the mountainous terrain meant we would often go out of line of sight making radio contact difficult. In this situation, the satellite phone provided by Vismo allowed us to check in from wherever we were, and to provide logistical updates to the team when needed. I never left the boat with my satellite phone” says Emma.saunders glacier trek

Later in the expedition, when weather conditions caused plans to change, the research team used satellite communication to contact the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands to request last minute changes to their research permits, which were granted. Emma explains, “These last minute alterations to our permits allowed us to collect additional samples that would otherwise not have been possible. In the field you need to be very flexible and ready to change plans in response to the weather. Satellite communications gave us that flexibility we needed”.

Would Emma look to satellite communications for her future expeditions? “Absolutely.” she says, “Fortunately, we did not have to use the emergency capabilities of the Iridium Extreme satellite phone. However, the simple reassurance of a quick call home, or a check-in message to the UCL support team, is not to be underestimated. When you are eight hundred miles away from help, satellite communications provide a lifeline to help you to feel connected”.

Web: www.ucl.ac.uk/earth-sciences/people/academic/dr-emma-liu

To find out more about Vismo, or to arrange a trial, please contact enquiries@vismo.com or call us on +44 (0) 1904 616666 (UK and RoW) or +1 866 815 9128 (USA).

Vismo Joins Suzy Lamplugh Trust on Lone Worker Directory

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust was set up in 1986 to honour Suzy Lamplugh, a 25-year-old estate agent who disappeared that year. Although never being found, the Trust exists to ensure the disappearance of Suzy does not happen to anyone else, with the vision of a society in which people are safer, and feel safer, from violence and aggression.

To achieve its mission, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust aims to reduce the risk of violence and aggression through campaigning, education and support. As featured in the Suzy Lamplugh Lone worker directory, the Vismo Lone Worker App turns any smartphone or tablet into a tracking device with a panic button and video streaming capabilities, enabling lone workers to have two-way communication with colleagues or security teams.

Read the full article featured in the directory below.

“According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), between 2017 and 2018 there were an estimated 694,000 incidents of violence at work, where 54% of work-place violence offenders were strangers.suzy_lamplugh_trust_logo.png Among the 46% of incidents where the offender was known, they were most likely to be clients, or a member of the public known through work. Vismo recognises the risks faced by Lone Workers and has developed a Lone Worker App; a fully integrated solution for all mobile platforms.

The Lone Worker App turns a smartphone or tablet into a tracking device with a panic button and video streaming capabilities. This enables lone workers to have two-way communication with colleagues or security teams.

The App features timed check-ins which can be set if a lone worker enters a potentially high-risk meeting or dangerous area. If the safety timer runs out, an alert is automatically sent to administrators of the Vismo Portal. Workers can continue uninterrupted as the App runs in the background of the device, while also using minimal battery.

Vismo is used by many FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies, NGO agencies and numerous remote and lone workers in the UK and globally. The App can be easily deployed into a large range of industries such as healthcare, housing and out-of-hours contractors.

In line with the continuation of global demand for lone worker protection, Vismo continually innovates and deploys the latest technology to enhance its solutions and better serve its increasing lone worker global client base.”

https://www.suzylamplugh.org/vismo

We’re Hiring! “.NET/Mobile Developer Market-Leading Apple/Android Security Tracking Product (York)”

Technical Controller Working at His Workstation with Multiple Displays. Displays Show Various Technical Information. He's Alone in System Control Center.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and innovative .NET Developer to join the vibrant development team behind Vismo; a market-leading personal security tracking product designed for all mobile phone platforms (Apple, Android, Windows). Vismo is rapidly expanding in response to increasing sales, opening new sales offices in the US to complement the UK Head office. This role offers an exciting opportunity in a dynamic environment for a .NET developer keen to work at the leading edge of web and mobile development.

The product: Vismo (www.vismo.com)

  • A robust, and mature market-leading security tracking application used by some of the largest blue chip companies in the world in industries such as oil and gas exploration, banking and NGOs.
  • Vismo provides tracking, panic alerts, mapping, two-way SMS, geo-fencing and check-ins through a secure website.
  • Available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, sat phones and personal trackers
  • Award winner for innovation at last year’s ASIS global security conference.

The work

  • Developing the main web-based tracking portal.
  • Design and implementation of Web API supporting the product and third party integration.
  • Technical pre-sales meetings and conversations with technology partners and customers
  • Designing and creating innovative new features for the application
  • Development of the Vismo mobile application.
  • Configuring and deploying onto Microsoft Azure, making use of the built in Visual Studio tools.
  • Elements of second-line technical support for the Vismo product
  • Being responsible for ensuring code written is of high quality, using SOLID principles.
  • Testing code and participating in code reviews.
  • Taking responsibility for day to day progress of individual tasks

The Skills

We are seeking an innovative and creative and candidate equally comfortable in technical customer discussions as coding. Candidates must also have a drive to write clean, maintainable code of a high quality with a keen eye for code organisation and design. Candidates must have proven prior experience working with the .NET framework and a strong knowledge of the C# language and run-time library. Knowledge of web based applications is essential and experience with frameworks such as AngularJS would also be an advantage. Knowledge of building mobile applications ideally on iOS and Android is also desired.

The product is highly secure and subject to industrial-strength penetration tests and hence knowledge of secure programming techniques and models and the ability to write robust software are essential.

Any experience in mobile development would be useful but there will be the opportunity to cross-train into development on iOS, Windows Phone and Android mobile platforms,

Candidates should demonstrate strong experience in some of the following areas:

  • C# (with experience of LINQ, asynchronous programming etc.)
  • .NET framework (at least version 4.0)
  • Mobile Development experience on iOS and Android
  • SQL Server & T-SQL
  • ASP.NET MVC & Razor
  • ASP.Net Web API
  • .NET server technologies (such as Entity Framework, WCF)
  • Web client technologies (JavaScript, knowledge of REST based APIs)
  • Source control solutions (e.g. Git, TFS)
  • Visual Studio (including use of NuGet)

The Company

Vismo is a dynamic and rapidly growing company which is part of the £23m+ turnover Cellhire group. Cellhire is an expert in mobile communications with 30 years’ heritage with offices around the world. Vismo is going through a period of continued expansion due to the success of the product, expanding into the US and growing the sales, support and development teams. The majority of customers are US-based and there is potential for travel. This financial year will see revenues increase again year-on-year. In the light of global tragedies like Paris and Brussels, companies are becoming more aware of the need to know the location of their staff at any time. Vismo satisfies that need in an innovative and ground-breaking way and addresses a growing market. If successful, you would be joining a vibrant development team working on the latest platforms, operating out of the Vismo Global Headquarters in an attractive setting in York.

Contact Details

For more information regarding this position, please contact Colin Dale at colindale@vismo.com

Using a tracker in a hostile environment? Why you still need to make sure you have analogue support as well.


Author: Matt Timblin

Publication Date: November 4, 2016

Published: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/using-tracker-hostile-environment-why-you-still-need-make-timblin/


The use of trackers – particularly ones that sit as mobile applications – has grown over the last few years. From everyday apps like “Find Friends”, through ones offered at a more commercial level, integrated organizationally or by individuals such as Vismo and then a whole host of other options in between.

trackingThere was a time that such technology was little used by individuals traveling to high risk environments and was the preserve of the bigger organizations; but times have changed and these applications have become accessible to pretty much anyone with a smartphone. The trouble is that with this accessibility often comes reliance and misplaced confidence. More and more I hear people tell me that they are using a tracker with panic alarm as the mainstay of their risk management strategy but, when you delve a little deeper, things are often amiss.

A tracker and panic alarm might alert someone to the fact that you are in trouble and where you are…but it is the human response that will determine how that information is leveraged.

This is particularly true of what I will call the “lone” user who subscribes to one of the many potential offerings in this field. They are confident that, if things go wrong, they can press the button and raise the alarm. Unfortunately, what seldom seems to accompany this is the “and then what”? If you are going to use a tracking device and panic alarm, it is probably worth considering the following few questions;

  • Will it work?? Most smartphone applications rely on mobile data – is there coverage and do you have enough credit to sustain its use.
  • Do you have a back-up plan? Have you agreed a comms / check in schedule with anyone?
  • Who is alerted at the other end when the alarm goes off? Do they know they are the emergency response?
  • What do you want them to do if they receive the alarm? Have you briefed them on this?
  • Do they have contact numbers for people you are with and who they should call first?

Technology is great and its continuous evolution provides new and innovative ways to help manage and respond to threats. It should never be used on its own though and needs to have resiliency built in by way of a robust plan – this is never truer than when working in high risk environments.

However good our digital solutions are, they still need an ‘analogue’ human accompaniment for maximum effectiveness.

A tracker and panic alarm is only the initial trigger. What comes next and how effective the response will be depends, in large part, on what answers you have for the questions posed above.

Vismo Global Tracking Application Introduces New Timed Check-in Functionality

Vismo has now enhanced its existing Check-In function! The Check-In function, which enables travellers to submit their immediate location information back to the Vismo platform, has been augmented with an additional Safety Timer function.

Specifically designed to enhance the safety of travellers and lone workers who may face periods of increased or additional risk, Vismo’s Timed Check-Ins allow users to set a timer which will automatically trigger an alert if the traveller does not explicitly cancel it.

For example, if a traveller is required to enter a high-risk area for a short period, they may choose to Check-In with the control centre prior to entering the area and configure an appropriate safety timer (e.g. 30 minutes), which they may cancel once they have safely left the area. If the user fails to cancel the timer, the control centre is automatically notified by Vismo, regardless of whether the device is in mobile coverage, or even still working! As with other notifications, these can be configured to send an e-mail and/ or an SMS message.

The Timed Check In feature is available immediately on the Vismo Smartphone Application, which operates on iPhone and Android phones.

Timed Check Ins 1

For more information on Vismo, visit www.vismo.com or contact us on +44 (0) 1904 616666.

The Vismo Team tracks down Levison Wood!

Colin-Levison-WoodThe Vismo Team were delighted to meet British explorer, best-selling author and photographer Levison Wood at his performance of ‘An Evening with Levison Wood’ at the Grand Opera House, York. Levison Wood is currently touring the UK as he shares his experiences and behind the scenes moments from his extended walking expeditions across Africa, Asia and Central America, and on all occasions, Levison was tracked by Vismo.

In 2014, Levison undertook his first ever expedition, walking the entire length of the River Nile over the course of 9 months. In 2015, Levison took on an even more ambitious expedition to walk the length of the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Bhutan. Levison’s most recent expedition involved walking 1800 miles along the length of Central America from Mexico to Columbia. All expeditions had been documented in critically acclaimed Channel 4 series’, namely ‘Walking the Nile’, ‘Walking the Himalayas’ and ‘Walking the Americas’. All episodes can be viewed via the following link:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/walking-the-americas

Vismo was integral to ensuring the safety and security of Levison during these expeditions, as Vismo was enabled on his smartphone with Tracking and Panic Button capabilities. Levision was reassured in the knowledge that in the event that something went wrong, his support team would be able to immediately identify his location through Vismo and provide necessary assistance.

For further information on Vismo and our work with Levison, please don’t hesitate to contact Colin Dale on +447566610610 or colindale@vismo.com.

The ISIS Hostage and Vismo Satellite Tracking

After being captured by ISIS fanatics in May 2013, freelance photographer Daniel Rye was held hostage for thirteen months in Syria. The ISIS Hostage is a moving and terrifying story that details Daniel’s friendship, suffering and survival under extreme circumstances.

The ISIS Hostage Snip

The book illustrates how Daniel’s story is linked within European, American and Arabian history and how it feeds into one of the most significant challenges the Middle East will face in upcoming years.

In handing over a £1.3m ransom for Daniel’s release, Daniel’s negotiator carried Vismo Satellite Tracking devices to provide the support team with his position every 60 seconds. Tracking was integral to ensuring the safety and security of the negotiator. Positional updates along with Geo-Fence and Country Change notifications were shown in the operations centre in Europe and to the local support teams.

For more information on Vismo, visit www.vismo.com or call us on +44 (0) 1904 616666.

Vismo Global Tracking Application now available on Windows 10 Mobile

Vismo-Windows-PhoneVismo uses GPS and other technologies to provide the best location service tracking updates, even indoors. Our patented technology works globally on GSM, 3G, WCDMA and CDMA networks. Vismo is also available on selected satellite phones providing tracking and security in the most remote places on Earth.
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One of the most reassuring features of Vismo is the panic button. Pressing the panic button sends an immediate alert from the device to the central monitoring servers. The moment this is received, Vismo initiates SMS and email alerts to defined recipients containing details of the Vismo user and their location, allowing them to offer immediate advice on the particular situation. Whilst this is happening, Vismo will covertly record an audio clip which is and sent back to the central monitoring website where it can be played back and analysed.

Vismo uses real time Geo-Fencing capabilities, which use virtual fences around a real-world geographic area and alert employees via SMS and E-mail when they move into high-risk areas or leave safe zones. In using this feature, a user’s ability to prevent potential situations and respond effectively to an incident is enhanced.

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Colin Dale, Business Development Director, Vismo, said “Vismo is a unique GPS tracking app that turns any smartphone or tablet into a Mobile Tracking device. International travellers can enhance their safety throughout the world as administrators track, protect and respond to their travellers using Vismo technology.”

“We’re delighted that Vismo is making their tracking application available to Microsoft customers,” said Craig Dewar, Senior Director of Windows Marketing at Microsoft Corp. “By offering the app in the Windows Store, Vismo makes it easy for mobile users to benefit from its safety functionality.”

To learn more about Vismo and their recent compatibility with Windows Mobile, please visit www.vismo.com/products/windows.

Ensuring Fire Fighter Safety In Emergency Responder Scenarios

Fire and rescue personnel can face serious danger in a variety of situations but particularly when they find themselves separated from their colleagues due to circumstances beyond their control, or when they are off duty and respond in a personal capacity to an incident or are caught up in an incident.

Such situations can be found in fire and explosions in an industrial complex, a building or facility collapse when a demolition goes wrong, terrorist incidents, floods, war zones, aircraft crashes, multiple vehicle accidents, bush, forest and moorland fires, domestic and commercial property fires, and incidents at sea. They can also happen where emergency services vehicles – fire, police, ambulance, helicopter etc – are broken down or damaged.

Lone workers of emergency services are especially vulnerable because of the nature of their work and their precise whereabouts being unknown or unsure of by their colleagues or other service.

Duty of care

Employees of businesses benefit from duty of care legislation, where those businesses come under the jurisdiction of countries with such legislation or understanding and take action to protect their staff in potentially dangerous situations. Increasingly, that action includes equipping staff with people tracking apps that can provide true global coverage if required. Satellite trackers are used for areas where mobile phones signals are weak or non existent.

Many Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies are equipping staff involved in commercial travelling with a people tracking app from Vismo, and providing the same for staff who work in potentially hazardous work environments and terrorism and kidnap hotspots. A number of UN agencies deploy the app in war zones and areas adjacent to them.

Individuals, acting on their own initiative, also purchase the app and download it to their phone of choice. The principal users are employees of larger companies, however.

Where fire and rescue personnel do not have a people tracking app, the organisation in charge of them, or which employ them, are advised to refer to duty of care legislation [or the spirit of it in countries where the legislation doesn’t exist].

People tracking can be useful in the unlikeliest of places.

People tracking can be useful in the unlikeliest of places.

Examples of use

Although industrial accidents and other non terrorist incidents are ideal for the application of the app, terrorism has been the focus in the past 18 months or so. During the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices and a supermarket in Paris in January 2015, 90 people – some, buyers in retail on their way to China – in the French capital had the app on their phones and were given advice by text as to what was happening, the areas to avoid and what to do if they were close to, or caught up in, the incidents.

In the attacks on tourists at a holiday resort in Tunisia, also in 2015, when 30 British holidaymakers died from gunshot wounds, 27 people in the country had the app on their phones and were kept informed about what was going on and how to minimise risks to themselves.

At a multiple bomb blast and gunfire at an election rally in Baghdad in 2014, a team of journalists attending the event helped a colleague who had become separated from them and found where she was via the app. She was directed to safety via a crisis management centre that operates in association with employers, the app and Vismo. It’s one of a number of crisis management centres around the world that provides high level support to app users and information to their employers.

The centres keep employer organisations informed at all times, during an incident, about the whereabouts of their staff, including volunteers who work for them, and what is known about their safety and what is being done to reach an successful outcome.

The app was also in use in Paris in the attacks later in the year. including inside the Bataclan Theatre, where 89 people died and rescues services had a difficult time in their rescue bid due to gunfire. It was also on phones in Belgium when suicide bombers struck at Brussels Airport and the metro in the city in March 2016.

How it works

The app is downloaded and installed on BlackBerry, iPhone, Android and Windows devices and, for those areas where there is no 3G or 4G mobile phone coverage, on satellite devices.

If users want to let their whereabouts – and what their circumstances are – be known, they activate a panic button on their phone. Immediately, a covert recording is made via the inbuilt microphone in their phone and transmitted in real time to a crisis management centre, where it’s analysed along with any email, text and or voice message sent by the users.

In return, the users quickly receive advice and other information by text. The clearer the situation becomes to the crisis management centre, the more precise is the advice and information provided. In cases where a centre is aware of an incident before any individuals affected, it sends them an alert with information and the steps to take to minimise risk to themselves.

Each centre liaises closely not only with emergency services to share information, but with Vismo, whose servers integrate information received – after the panic button has been pressed – with the precise location [or locations if more than one individual is involved]. Each location is put into a mapping solution commonly used by emergency services, and the information received is shared among those services.

Search and rescue swing into action – or are able to become better focused if already underway – with two-way voice and/or text communication used wherever possible to keep the at-risk workers informed, and reassured that help is on the way as quickly as possible. In some situations an emergency evacuation of a building or area will be made or attempted, with at risk personnel being given precise information about what is happening including how the evacuation will be carried out and what they should do or shouldn’t do to facilitate it.

Even a benign scene will pose dangers if transformed the next moment by a major accident or terrorist attack.

Even a benign scene will pose dangers if transformed the next moment by a major accident or terrorist attack.

Features and capabilities of the app at a glance

  • GPS Tracking, giving regular GPS fixes of events and allowing a user organisation’s crisis management team to view current locations, historical trails, battery life and signal strength.
  • Incident Response, showing the most current position of employees in the vicinity of any incident and sends advice, by text, on what action they should take.
  • Geo-Fencing, enabling user organisations to set up “geo-fences” and receive text messages and email alerts when an employee moves into a high risk area or leaves a safe one.
  • Online control, enabling user organisations to manage the risk and safety of all affected emergency workers from one secure, central, online location.
  • Check-in/check-out, allowing personnel to register their arrival and departure to/from a location, via the app.

Optimised location accuracy while stretching battery life

Vismo was awarded a patent earlier this year for its technology for GPS tracking on mobile devices. The company previously had a patent pending and has now secured a full patent for its unique operation. The awarded patent, GB2470376, specifically covers the design behind the algorithms and innovative operations of the app to optimise location accuracy with minimal battery drain.

The algorithms use a combination of metrics from the phone, including speed of travel, GPS, network information and phone tower locations to determine optimal accuracy for locations without incurring the large battery drain usually typical of GPS tracking applications.

Critical to the approach is how Vismo utilises the functionality of mobile devices. The company minimises the use of navigational sensors by placing them into hibernation between pre-determined intervals and uses environmental information to quickly locate a device without lengthy GPS warm-up periods. Ultimately, this produces a chronological “trail” following a user’s location point-by-point on a map.

To conclude

Lone workers and personnel in emergency responder situations anywhere in the world can be helped – and reassured – through the use of a people tracking app. Using the latest technology to pinpoint the exact location of the user and extend battery life, the app as developed by Vismo could be viewed as a natural extension of the technologies already employed by fire and other emergency services to help the safety of their personnel.

For more information, go to www.vismo.com

Battery Drain on Global Tracking Solutions

Historically the drain caused by tracking solutions has been an issue, however, this is no longer the case. The increased use of geo-locations (local Wi-Fi networks) that have been mapped and a lat/long assigned to them has significantly reduced the battery drain and location accuracy. This can be seen when you turn off your Wi-Fi and you get the very familiar with the message below.1

The use of geo-locations has also enabled us to get locations indoors like airports, shopping malls railway stations etc. This, coupled with the improvement of GPS chip technology, means that battery drain with Vismo is as little as 1% per week. In fact, the battery drain from my Home and Lock Screen is 7%!

2

Vismo has a patent specifically to cover the design behind the algorithms and innovative operations of the Vismo tracking software to optimise location accuracy with minimal battery drain.

The algorithms use a combination of metrics from the phone such as speed, GPS, network information and cell tower locations to determine optimal accuracy for locations from the device, without incurring the large battery drain usually typical of GPS tracking applications.

Fundamental to the approach is how Vismo utilizes the functionality of mobile devices, minimising the use of navigational sensors by placing them into hibernation between pre-determined intervals and using environmental information to quickly locate a device without lengthy GPS warm-up periods. Ultimately, this produces a chronological ‘trail’ following a user’s location point-by-point on a map with minimal battery drain.

Colin Dale

Business Development Director

Vismo