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Santa pays a virtual visit to hospitalized kids

One of the greatest things about the holiday season is the wonder and excitement it brings to families across the world. For the past six years, Cisco has ensured that children and their families who are unable to celebrate in the comfort of their own home due to illness are able to experience some of the festive traditions this time of year brings. Cisco’s annual Santa Connection Program virtually connects Santa Claus to thousands of hospitalized children worldwide. Through the magic of Cisco’s video collaboration technologies (TelePresence and Jabber for mobile devices), children virtually connect to the “North Pole” and are able to share their holiday wishes and Christmas lists with Santa directly.

At Children's National Medical Center in DC

This year, I was fortunate enough to visit Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and get an early glimpse into how our Santa Connection Program will help nearly 400 kids at this hospital experience the magic of the season alongside their families. The hospitals’ telemedicine area will undergo its transformation into a Winter Wonderland complete with snow, Santa’s sleigh and shimmering holiday décor, all to create a place of joy for the children spending their holidays in the hospital.

In this magical room, patients connected with Santa’s Workshop via Cisco Jabber for iPad and TelePresence carts, allowing these children to meet face-to-face with Santa (and his elves!). I know that the excitement and joy these children experience while speaking with Santa is a moment that will never be forgotten and Cisco is honored to be a part of this annual event.

Santa visits Children's of Alabama via Cisco Jabber

Currently in its sixth year, this is the program’s most successful season yet. From December 4-21, 2012 Santa will connect with nearly 3,000 children in 33 hospitals across the U.S. alone, and make additional stops to other hospitals across the globe, including the UK and Ireland and Canada. With this super-speed cyber sled, children can rest assured knowing St. Nick will have enough time to make his list and check it twice!

Stay tuned for more updates on Santa’s visits in the coming weeks as he virtually crosses the globe and delights thousands of kids during this special season. Here’s a first-hand account about Santa’s recent visit to Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham, Alabama earlier this week!  You can also read more about the program on our healthcare blog.

 

Personal Telepresence Expands Capabilities with Cisco Unified Communications Integration

There are a lot of things possible with just a touch of a finger, including video collaboration, thanks to the Cisco TelePresence EX Series. Since its inception, this family of personal telepresence solutions for the desktop has enabled employees to instantly collaborate face-to-face, whether separated by a hallway, a street, or several time zones. Now, tighter integration with Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) brings rich telephony features to the popular EX Series for a powerful voice and video solution.

The EX Series is simple to deploy and creates an in-person experience right from your desktop, so that you can enable faster decision making, enhance relationships and improve efficiency. It also seamlessly integrates with CUCM so you can more easily collaborate, for example receive and retrieve voicemail on your EX system, or receive telepresence calls on your mobile phone and then transfer the call to the EX once you return to the office. These and other rich telephony features are now available as a CUCM software upgrade (TE 6.0) for the EX Series.

Check out the video below and see how you can streamline your communications and start reaping the rewards.

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NBA Gets a Slam Dunk with Cisco TelePresence

Telepresence is travelling outside of the boardroom and onto the basketball court—not only changing how the NBA conducts business, but also how its fans consume sports information.

Similar to the transformation happening in the workplace, the rise of mobile devices and online access is changing how we experience and interact with sporting events. Attuned to these changes, the NBA is committed to collaboration technologies--like Cisco TelePresence and WebEx--to enable new forms of effectiveness and innovation, while positively transforming the fan experience. And they are making an impact; NBA TV had its highest viewership ever during the 2011-12 season, and NBA.com and its team sites already have more than 140 million video streams this season.

How’d they do it? By providing fans with the best experience possible and creating compelling content. Each week, NBA TV communicates with sports analysts, journalists, experts, and players via telepresence, allowing them to bring fans the latest news and updates from around the league. These video interviews are then loaded to NBA.com for fans to view on demand. Read More »

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Video Calling: The Case for Interoperability

Video is quickly becoming the dominant form of communications.  According to Cisco’s most recent Visual Network Index (VNI), people are increasingly spending more time on the Internet communicating with video.  For video to become a pervasive natural communications alternative, it is crucial for consumers and businesses alike to use standard-based technologies that work seamlessly together to deliver a connected-product experience.  Interoperability is the key to realizing the full potential of video calling; I see a future where video is at the center of our personal and professional relationships and where video calling is as easy as a phone call.

The Case for Interoperability Infographic

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Announcing MSI on CTS, Cisco EX & C Series

November 19, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

In the coming weeks, Cisco will begin shipping the latest releases for the Cisco TelePresence endpoints, which has important implications for those customers looking to roll out a medianet-enabled infrastructure. With the new release, the Media Services Interface (MSI) will ship by default, enabling both the Media Monitoring and Media Awareness solutions for these endpoints. For network administrators, utilizing Media Monitoring in networks managed by Cisco Prime Collaboration Manager and other certified 3rd party management tools, it will now be possible to proactively monitor the network contribution to the end-user’s quality of experience. Being able to monitor key performance metrics (such as packet loss, jitter and delay) will enable network administrators to quickly identify if network service is adversely impacting experience and—in conjunction with Mediatrace—provide them with the ability to dynamically gather the end-to-end diagnostics needed for rapid problem resolution. Quite often, one of the biggest operational challenges with rich media conferencing is detecting and troubleshooting intermittent network quality issues. Often the end user has to complain to the IT department, the video administrator then tries to locate the problem, and by the time they engage the network administrator, the problem has disappeared. This leads to the two operations groups wasting hours trying to be at the right place at the right time to pick up their issues. With Performance Monitor now on both the network and on the endpoints, the operations team can proactively identify the issues and dynamically gather the necessary diagnostics as the problem occurs, rather than attempting to manually gather them after the problem has disappeared. With support in these high value applications, administrators can expect to reduce operational costs and maintain high levels of customer service. Read More »

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