in Asterisk

More fun with Asterisk: automated outgoing calls

Up until recently I have been content to let Asterisk answer my phone, routing incoming calls as I please. That has worked just fine, but I’ve always wanted to get Asterisk to automatically place outgoing calls as well. I found out how to do this this week using a simple text file dropped into a certain directory.

How can this be used? Take my home alarm system for instance. Instead of simply sending a text message to my mobile phone whenever the alarm is tripped, I can now send a recorded clip which states what sensor got triggered (or anything I want, really). I could get really fancy and create a challenge for whomever answers the call when the alarm trips: punch in the proper code and the police aren’t dispatched. Or I could call and have Asterisk pretend its really “Aunt Betty” saying she heard the alarm and is everything all right.

If I was feeling especially confident, I could have this system call the dispatch center itself and announce the event. There are laws against automated calls to dispatch centers, so I’m not quite ready to take this one on. It’s still intriguing, though!

As I am politically minded, I can now easily use my Asterisk system to place outgoing “robo-calls” on behalf of candidates or causes. I could create an application which leaves an identical voicemail on the phones of all of a committee’s members at once.

For security or neighborhood watch use, I could create an instant phone tree where one neighbor could record a crime alert message which could be instantly delivered by phone to an entire block, sort of like a small “reverse 911” system.

I could create a simple application which automatically dials a busy number in the background and then rings my phone when the number is free. Or if I travel to a foreign country I can have Asterisk do an automatic callback so that I can pay the cheap U.S. phone tolls rather than expensive foreign phone tolls. The possibilities are endless!

I look forward to experimenting more with this aspect of Asterisk!