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Supreme Court ruling could be aggravated assault on state and local budgets

In a recent ruling on the case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court stated that prosecutors need to have forensic experts available for a defendant’s cross-examination since technicians who prepare reports act as “witnesses” for the prosecution.

The ruling is important to protect defendants from being wrongly convicted due to inaccurate laboratory tests and/or evidence, but it has created a lot of dissent on the state and local government level. Many just don’t have the budget or resources available to ensure that experts are on hand for cross examination.

In today’s current economic environment, many states are having significant problems with balancing their budgets. The additional costs associated with ensuring that experts appear in court are going to be a huge strain on resources and potentially an inefficient use of time for forensic personnel.

There is a solution that would require an initial investment, but would subsequently save the states significant amounts of money over time: video teleconferencing (VTC). By implementing VTC in courtrooms, experts could “appear” in court and testify without the added expense of travel to appear in a courtroom in-person.

The concept of using VTC in the criminal justice system isn’t particularly new. In a previous post we talked about how the San Antonio police department is using video conferencing in the search warrant process, which is saving time and money by cutting down on the time needed to process a search warrant.

With the new Supreme Court ruling in effect, VTC could be a good solution for saving money for state governments while ensuring defendants get a fair and speedy trial.

Telecommuting on the Rise, Video Conferencing Helps Remote Workers Maintain Important Face-Time

Teleworking could save 84 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually

Teleworking could save 84 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually

A recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation predicts that telecommuting could grow fourfold in the U.S. to 19 million and deliver substantial economic, environmental and quality of life benefits over the next 12 years. Spurred by advances in IT, such as video conferencing, many businesses have turned to telecommuting as a viable solution to cut costs, increase productivity, and expand the universe of potential employees. In fact, Fortune Magazine found that 82 out of the 100 Best U.S. Companies to work for provide telecommuting opportunities today, compared with only 18 in 1998. Furthermore, if those who could work from home did so half of the time, 84 million metric tons of greenhouse gas would be saved annually.

The report calls for the government to pursue policies to accelerate and maximize telecommuting. Video conferencing is an integral technology for teleworkers who need to maintain important face-time with managers and other remote teammates. More proof that now is the time to invest in visual communications solutions.

See how much you could save on your commute with TANDBERG’s Commuter Cost Calculator.

How a tech savvy White House stays connected

When President Obama said he wanted to use a BlackBerry, it caused quite the debate about balancing technology and security. He loves technology and knows how to use it. From an updated, interactive website to Twitter, advanced communications are a given in the White House. Click here for the recent MSNBC “behind the scenes” story on the Obama Administration and what it’s like to work in the White House.

You’ll see iPODs, Blackberrys, and even a few TANDBERG video conferencing units at desks. It’s clear that this administration understands the need for open and clear communication and is willing to find the securest means to do so.

Oh, and they really like candy, too.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Telepresence Helps Widen the Hiring Net

TANDBERG Telepresence T1

TANDBERG Telepresence T1

One Communications uses telepresence to improve their hiring process. With two headquarters — one in Waltham, Mass., and one in Rochester, N.Y. — as well as executives split up among several locations throughout the country, the company found it could use telepresence to make hiring new employees more efficient and less costly.

According to InfoWorld, executives prefer to conduct interviews on the large HD plasma screens rather than over phone because they can clearly read body language during interviews and evaluate a candidate’s character. When they ask tough questions, they can assess the candidate’s reaction. It’s also less expensive than flying in candidates for in-person interviews.

Read about other innovative applications for visual communications here.

Video conferencing — an integral part of emergency operations centers

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