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Video traverses the highest walls: unites children with parents

March 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm PST

In recent posts on Break Down the Walls, we’ve discussed the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in the correctional system. We talked about how VTC is being used in prisons in CA to deliver medical care to prisoners without the need to take them out of jail. We’ve also shown cases in MI where VTC is being used along the same lines for first arraignments and during trials.

The end benefits of these VTC implementations are two-fold. Financially, the state saves significant taxpayer dollars by no longer having to transport and guard prisoners leaving correctional facilities for medical care and trials. There is also an added benefit to public safety.

However, not all uses of VTC implementations in prisons are meant to keep prisoners behind bars and separated from the outside world. Some prisons are using their VTC solutions for the completely opposite reason, to bring prisoners closer to the world, and their lives, outside of prison.

Many people forget that prisoners are more than just individuals who were found guilty of breaking the law. Prisoners are someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, grandfather or grandmother, or brother or sister.

In fact, the State of Florida estimates that 15,000 children in Miami-Dade County alone have at least one parent in jail. This is why the state recently approved a new program that was launched on March 19, 2010 designed to bring these children closer together with their incarcerated parents via VTC.

Using VTC solutions, children from Miami-Dade are now able to connect with their incarcerated parents at the Family & Children Faith Coalition office. This ensures that imprisoned individuals can continue to play a role in their children’s lives, and gives area children the parental contact so important to their development. Also, the use of VTC for visitation eliminates the need for potentially traumatic security measures and searches that are a part of on-site visitation, and eliminates any security concerns for the child by keeping them outside of prison walls.

Using VTC to break down the walls between children and their incarcerated parents is a step in the right direction for both the healthy development of the children, and the rehabilitation of the parents. Now that’s a new way of working.

A lot of wall breaking depends on getting broadband policy right

March 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm PST

Like a lot of other people, everyone here at Break Down the Walls (BDTW) has been watching the unfolding broadband debate very closely. After all, the power of video teleconferencing (VTC) requires a broadband connection. And making sure that all communities and citizens have broadband access is a worthy goal that promises good things for our future productivity and competitiveness as a nation. Here’s a good editorial from the Denver Post laying out the stakes.

We realize the devil is in the details, and we’ll leave the policy wrangling to others. It was encouraging to read how some big players have formed the Broadband Adoption Initiative and are applying for federal stimulus dollars to bring broadband to underserved communities. Fierce Telecom has the story, and a link to the group’s press release.

Your tax dollars hard at work breaking down some walls – you’ve got to love the sound of that!

Benefits of Touch Screen Integration in Telepresence and Video Conferencing

March 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm PST

There’s no denying that touch screen technology is here to stay. It’s already used in an array of products, from smart phones (i.e. iPhone & Droid) to high-end showers and washing machines. In fact, Gartner estimates that the global market for touch screen mobiles will cross 362.7 million units in 2010, a 96.8 per cent increase from the 184.3 million units sold in 2009.

“Consumers are becoming much more aware of the benefits of touch interfaces, and vendors are responding,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a recent press release.

Why is the touch screen interface becoming so popular? According to some, it provides faster access, makes everyone an expert, is compact and handy, and is more durable and easy to clean. What does this mean for the world of telepresence and video conferencing?

Benefits of Touch Screen Integration for Telepresence and Video Conferencing:

  1. Increased Usage: The similarity to other familiar touch screen technology, such as smartphones, makes the experience more intuitive, which will help increase usage
  2. Faster, Easier Access: Making video calls, sharing content, adding participants and accessing advanced features with the glide of a finger is easier and faster than with a remote
  3. Reduced Costs: Using a touch interface can effectively increase operator accuracy, reduce training time, and improve overall operational efficiencies, thus keeping costs down.

Any other benefits to add?

Watch this video to see the latest telepresence touch screen application:

Telemedicine — a real peach in Georgia

March 23, 2010 at 5:04 pm PST

The state of Georgia is a study in contrast. There are large metro areas like Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah whose economies revolve around communications, industry, transportation, tourism and government. There are also large rural areas that rely on agriculture and farming, providing the peaches that give the state its nickname, as well as the bulk of the world’s pecans. This makes Georgia a fascinating part of the country, but also poses challenges for the delivery of healthcare.

As we’ve discussed in past posts on Break Down the Walls, there is a shortage in rural areas of medical professionals, including doctors, specialists and registered nurses. Most specialists tend to be located in and around the major metro regions of America’s large cities, like Atlanta. This becomes a problem when people need the attention and care of a specialist who is located hours away.

In an attempt to more effectively and efficiently deliver care to rural patients, Georgia has begun embracing telemedicine and delivering specialists and doctors via video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions. Telemedicine can effectively allow doctors in places like Atlanta to examine and prescribe treatment to patients in rural parts of Georgia miles away. This ensures that care is administered quickly, while significantly reducing the need to transport patients.

Georgia Public Broadcasting reports that 18,000 healthcare provider consults in Georgia were delivered via VTC last year alone. Also, in an effort to improve public safety and reduce medical costs, Georgia’s prison system has embraced the system as a way to provide care for prisoners without having to take them out of jail. The result has been a 30 percent reduction in medical costs.

In fact, telemedicine has gotten so popular that Dr. Debra B. Lister demonstrated telemedicine techniques with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker Rep. David Ralston at the state Capitol on Thursday, March 11. Dr. Lister used a VTC telemedicine solution to examine Cagle and Ralston from more than 200 miles away at the Coffee Regional Medical Center.

VTC is breaking down the walls between big city doctors and rural patients and bringing timely and high-quality care to patients that need it, where and when they need it. Now that’s a new (and peachy) way of caring.

AFCEA Technet AP

March 22, 2010 at 11:40 am PST

1. Hear expert speakers address the critical issues,
2. Get the insider’s perspective from key military commands.
3. Attend dynamic panel sessions.
4. Stay informed on IT developments in the Pacific.

For more information about this event, please visit AFCEA Technet AP.