What is federated presence management?

Federated presence management allows users of communications devices to control all aspects of their communications with other users.

Federated presence management (FPM), also called unified presence management, is a technology that allows device users to control all aspects of their communications with other users, regardless of the make or platform of the devices. Federated presence management can function with personal computers, cellular telephones, Voice over IP (VoIP) and personal communications services (PCS).

Presence technology has existed on the Internet since the early 1990s, originating with instant messaging (IM) within major providers such as America Online. Any network user could determine, with a single mouse click, whether or not another subscriber was online. Later the technology expanded to the entire Internet, facilitating communication in real time between subscribers across providers. For example, a person casually browsing the Internet might see a pop-up window containing an instant message from a friend. It was not long before this feature was abused, giving rise to nuisance communications such as IM-based spam (also called spim), creating a demand for presence management.

With federated presence management, users can control when and how they communicate. Users can turn off messaging functionality altogether, restrict it to certain favoured contacts or select device types from which messages can be received. A user can also route a call or message to one or more specified contacts or device types. A subscriber in a corporation or organisation network can create a dynamic list displaying the status of users within that group at any time. It is possible to see immediately whether or not a targeted user is available to take a call or text message. A session can be initiated using any communications mode.

Federated presence management can offer convenience, improve efficiency and enhance productivity among the employees of businesses and government agencies. The technology is also popular with casual users, particularly students and teens who enjoy being "constantly connected." Privacy advocates have expressed concerns that if improperly implemented or mismanaged, presence technology could be abused, leading to harassment, stalking and illegal eavesdropping. Federated presence management can mitigate this potential problem and may provide means by which serious abusers can be identified and located.

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