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Video conferencing — an integral part of emergency operations centers

June 29, 2009 at 11:06 pm PST

Recently I went to the 2009 Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This conference brings together the leaders of many large U.S. urban areas, and they decide how to spend grant dollars and provide thought leadership to each other on a variety of topics. They also are part of teams that respond to emergencies facing cities across the nation.

This year, it was quite interesting to find that the perception now is that video communications can and should be used during emergency situations. In years past, I had to explain what video conferencing was. Now, many cities and counties have already integrated video conferencing into their Emergency Operations Centers. The questions I hear now are centered on making the technology work better for a city or county, and advice on how to incorporate video conferencing into existing technologies.

One great example of this integration is with existing tools such as Microsoft Office Communicator, thanks to the collaboration between TANDBERG and Microsoft to produce a powerful video unified communications solution. The use of this technology as a tool to IM, share documents and, of course, communicate using video has moved to the next level. Now, one can connect with larger video deployments that already exist and in fact can design/merge video deployments with Office Communicator. This is just one example of conversations taking place in cities about emergency preparedness.

For information about how Charlotte, NC, uses video conferencing to support their emergency response efforts, check out the video below:

Scott Feinberg, Public Sector Market Manager

Here comes the judge — via video

June 26, 2009 at 8:57 am PST

Recently the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, Texas, ran a story about another use of video that saves time, money -- and maybe lives. KSAT news talked about how the San Antonio police department is using video conferencing to greatly speed the granting of search warrants.

The story describes how it often took three hours or more for police to secure warrants. Now, it can take only a few minutes thanks to TANDBERG’s PC video conferencing solution called Movi.  All you need is a PC with a webcam (built-in or peripheral) an Internet connection, and it’s as easy to use as making a phone call.

Five judges are Movi equipped so far, and the city plans on all judges soon having the ability to administer an oath online, sign the warrants digitally and help police respond faster. All warrants are reviewed as before, but the police save precious time in going after suspects.

You can imagine the time and expense saved by this approach. Or you can check out the video. Here’s a link:

Global Architecture Firm Saves $120K On One Meeting With Video Conferencing

Qatar Science & Technology Park, Dubai

Qatar Science & Technology Park, Dubai

Forbes magazine recently interviewed the CIO of global architecture firm Woods Bagot about their use of video conferencing to support their “global studio.” “We’re not like other practices, where someone in the New York office doesn’t know someone else in the Chicago office. We leverage our skill pool globally. We have experts from Dubai, Sydney and San Francisco working on a very large development in the Middle East,” he said.

Enabling their experts to easily meet face-to-face and collaborate anytime with each other and clients is a priority for the firm, and why they were drawn to video conferencing. Not only has Woods Bagot’s global deployment of video helped streamline business processes and improved client relations, the savings for the first board meeting replaced by visual communications was $120,000 just for airfare. Now board meetings are held more often at a fraction of the previous costs, which has helped speed decision making.

Are you ready for FY 2010?

June 24, 2009 at 11:55 am PST

The Obama Administration has made it clear that the way government is conducted is just as important as the outcomes produced. As a result, many federal agencies have been focusing on creating processes for collaboration, accountability and transparency that are now required, while still delivering on their mission.

All of this needs to be accomplished with limited resources and in a timely fashion. As the end of the fiscal year approaches, many agencies are facing even greater pressure to deliver on priorities related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

A key area of the recovery is the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Public Building Service (PBS) to invest $5.55 billion in federal public building projects, which includes $4.5 billion to transform federal facilities into exemplary high-performance green buildings. Contracts to support approved initiatives will be granted over the next two years.

Now is the time to ensure that you are aware of the opportunities available to your agency. Take a long hard look at your existing technology to determine whether you need to make changes to ensure that you are able to participate in not only a “green” environment, but also in the new Gov 2.0 world.

Is your agency prepared for fiscal year 2010? Have you audited the technology you have in place and know where your agency wants to go?

Video Conferencing Helps Cut Travel, Says USA Today

TANDBERG Telepresence T3

TANDBERG Telepresence T3

According to a recent USA Today article, video conferencing helps cut travel costs. The article notes that airlines and hotels are “spooked,” as more companies continue to invest in the technology.

It’s no wonder: In 2008 the global video conferencing market grew 24% to $2.4 billion, according to Roopam Jain, a technology analyst at Frost & Sullivan. The firm forecasts the market will more than double, to reach $5.7 billion by 2013. Is your company using telepresence or video conferencing yet?