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Telepresence An Indispensible Technology for K-12 Classrooms

September 19, 2011 at 7:41 am PST

If you were to walk into any school these days—whether an elementary, middle, or high school—you would see students using some degree of technology. Whether it’s a computer in a lab, a tablet, or an interactive whiteboard, technology has no doubt made its way into students’ schooldays.

The trend towards technology in education stands to proliferate: according to Education Week, the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Education rank facilitating technology access as their top goal during tough economic times. With this goal in mind, telepresence should rank highly on the list of technologies designated for schools—after all, telepresence offers several solutions to maintaining education quality under ever-tightening budgets.

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Carbon Disclosure Project 2011 global launch—Walking the low-carbon talk

This past Wednesday morning, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) put on their annual global launch via Cisco TelePresence.  What CDP “launches” is a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the responses to CDP’s 2011 Investor survey.

Cisco did very well.  We again made both the CDLI and CPLI (Carbon Disclosure/Performance Leadership Index).  Cisco had the top disclosure score in the Information Technology sector.  In 2009 and 2010, we were #1 and #2, respectively, so we’re maintaining our focus.  In general the IT sector seems well engaged on carbon reporting, judging by participation rates—95% of Global 500, IT-sector companies responded to the CDP survey (38 of 40).  That’s a higher percentage than any other sector.

Congratulations as well to SAP and Sony for rounding out the top three in the IT sector.  I was in one of the Cisco TelePresence rooms with Peter Graf, SAP’s CSO, and got to give him the good news!

The event used Cisco TelePresence units at nine locations, shown below:

CDP Launch Cisco TelePresence locations

For this virtual event, CDP assembled an array of 18 speakers that represented a broad range of perspectives.

  • corporations (IT, banking, retail, chemicals)
  • environmental advocacy
  • investor
  • United Nations FCCC
  • government

Within these groups, CDP also captured the developed and emerging markets viewpoints.

As I watched, I pondered Marshall McLuhan, the medium (Cisco TelePresence) and the message (from those 18 people scattered about the world).  With deft facilitation by Paul Dickinson (CDP Executive Chairman), we were treated to many speakers, many different perspectives, but each delivered quickly and with compelling intimacy. Going forward, is this how progress is going to be made on intractable problems?  Through this portal—”metaphorical table” as one speaker called it—will we be able to assemble the critical mass in terms of knowledge, geography and function to move the needle on a low-carbon economy?

Watch the recorded broadcast (direct Ustream, CDP website) and let us know what you think. (The streaming quality is fantastic; I watched afterward full-screen on a 27″ iMac and was mesmerized.)

Let’s move from the macro to the micro, from big ideas to individual responsibility and action.

Hats off to CDP for taking a risk and changing how they do business, choosing to walk the low-carbon talk.  I’m sure CDP’s annual global launch is very important for their organization and its mission.  In past years, CDP held an in-person event in New York City to coincide with UN opening week and CGI. (Cue the airplanes.) Last year, CDP began the transition to virtual, adding a Cisco TelePresence unit on stage that connected the auditorium to locations on five continents.  This year, CDP made the leap to all virtual, and provided a wonderful example of bringing together a far-flung and unique group to share views on a very difficult problem.  And none of these executives and leaders spent days and flew many thousands of miles for this discussion.

The technology exists, it works and it’s cost effective.  It takes effort to change, but the upside is intriguing.  Climate change is a global problem, but the solution will be built from billions of people making thousands of individual decisions.  Everyone trying new ways to live, work, play and learn.  So each day, think about your decisions and how you can lead the way.

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Solving Education Budget Crises with Telepresence

September 9, 2011 at 7:28 am PST

As we’ve talked about before, Hillcrest High School in Riverside, California has state-of-the art facilities. But, it has no students. Financed with $105 million of bond money allocated in 2007, the school now lacks the $3 million it needs from the state to operate for one year. California state budget cuts of $18 billion, one-third of the state’s education funding, keep Hillcrest’s halls and classrooms empty.

In similar dire straits as California, Minnesota’s state government this summer borrowed $2.2 billion from its public schools to end a government shutdown. The state has not set a date by which to pay the schools back.

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Go Global with GPN and the TelePresence Distributor-as-Agent Initiative

The saying goes that you should think globally, but act locally. Well guess what—now you can, thanks to Cisco partner Westcon Group.

Comstor, the distributor business unit of Westcon Group, now offers support for the Global Partner Network for the Cisco TelePresence Distributor-as-Agent track. Cisco’s  Global Partner Network (GPN) enables customers with global requirements to better utilize resources of Cisco partners. And now, you can efficiently conduct project management, delivery and logistics globally for your customers’ TelePresence requirements.

Here’s how it works: The program can allow you to act as host in your customer’s headquarters to deliver a globally coordinated solution. According to Bill Hurley, CTO of the Westcon Group, this can help you not only think, act, and grow your business from a global perspective, but also do a single local transaction with local support.

“TelePresence is a global technology—it’s not about just putting it in a local campus. Most companies look to it for global communications, and this program enables our partners to be confident that they can speak with their end-users intelligently and confidently about TelePresence,” he said.

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Among TechAmerica IT Policy Recommendations, Innovation Key for State & Local Government

September 1, 2011 at 6:58 am PST

As our country continues to face budget woes, it seems especially imperative for state and local governments to implement TechAmerica’s IT policy recommendations, covered last week by Sarah Rich of Government Technology. The first priority listed was for the public sector to,Implement policies and actions that will increase collaboration and communication between the private sector and state and local government in all areas of technology acquisition, deployment and service delivery.”

We have already seen rapid adoption of innovative programs, like telepresence technology, being implemented by some government agencies, as it is critical for enhancing collaboration among agencies and departments and increasing efficiencies. The role of technology is changing – it is no longer a support role but a driving force to save costs, increase performance and enrich the workplace. With telepresence, high definition video and audio allow reduce travel-related costs, productivity, costs of downtime, all while creating a more collaborative environment that encourages innovation. The Department of Transportation in Alabama is a great example of how telepresence can increase productivity and reduce expenses, using the technology for everything from new hire trainings to external meetings. The Federal government is also adopting this innovative technology to help keep the Department of Defense running smoothly amidst the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative, ensuring federal workers are still able to communicate in real time with the Pentagon offices. Read More »

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