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Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition

March 22, 2010 at 11:38 am PST

For more information about this event, please visit Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

2010 Environmental Information Symposium

March 22, 2010 at 11:36 am PST

Enabling Environmental Protection Through Transparency and Open Government. Sessions, demonstrations and exhibits will showcase the latest tools and trends in information technology, information management, data quality, and information security to meet the many challenges of Open Government. Participants will have the opportunity to network and learn more about EPA’s information management and technology strategic direction and the challenges we face in meeting today’s information needs.

For more information about this event, please visit 2010 Environmental Information Symposium.

Oakland County, MI could teach DC a few things about video

March 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm PST

The more we here at Break Down the Walls (BDTW) read about Oakland County, Michigan, the more we think those folks really “get” using technology in the public interest. The county has been a leader in using eGovernment tools to reach citizens – check out this interview with the county CIO for more on that front. Now, according to the local Daily Tribune the county is using video conferencing for criminal arraignments – saving time, money and better protecting the public. Read that story here.

BDTW hopes counties around the DC area start using video more in the criminal justice process. Just last week we read in the Post about an inmate who escaped while being transported for medical treatment. By using VTC for criminal arraignments and medical treatments, situations like that could be avoided. Now that’s a new way of working that can save money and lives!

Survey says — VTC the solution for slow telework adoption

March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm PST

According to this year’s Where the Jobs Are Report by the Partnership for Public Service, the federal government is operating shorthanded, with as many as 10,000 vacancies in mission-critical positions. That is a lot of necessary positions at federal agencies and offices currently unfilled, and a lot of shoes to fill for existing government careerists. With so many jobs unfilled, the government can’t afford for its employees to miss a lot of work, or agencies can and will effectively grind to a halt. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happened this year.

First, there was the swine flu pandemic, which caused a mad scramble for continuity plans in government agencies and commercial enterprises alike. Next, a Metro accident that tragically took the lives of 9 passengers and injured close to 100 people disabled the Red Line and made it difficult, if not impossible, for Metro-dependant government employees to make it into their offices.

You would think the impact of these events alone would be catastrophic on productivity…but then the snow came. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the lovingly named “snowpocalypse” brought the federal government to its knees by dropping enough snow to keep secondary roads unplowed for days, schools closed for over a week, and productivity in ruins.

Telework is the obvious answer to keeping the government functioning even when government employees are unable to make it to their offices. However, despite the events of the past year and the millions of dollars in lost productivity, a recent survey conducted by the Government Business Council showed that only one third of the responding government employees are allowed to telework.

The survey, which was given to a total of 419 GovernmentExecutive.com and Nextgov.com visitors from civilian and defense agencies, also exposed many reasons why telework has failed to gain broader adoption. The number one reason among eligible respondents was a lack of support from management.

The fact is, many managers in government agencies are not trained to manage teleworkers. The result is a fear of having distributed employees who are out of sight, and have work out of their minds. These managers fear that the employees they can’t see are not working. In addition, there’s a fear that communication and collaboration will suffer from a distributed workforce as well.

This is why video teleconferencing (VTC) is so important in the federal government today. VTC solutions allow managers at government agencies and organizations to see their employees and interact with them face-to-face. VTC also allows non-verbal communication such as body language, which other forms of communication such as telephone and instant message do not. This ensures natural conversations as if participants were in the same room. VTC also ensures that collaboration and communication stay strong between teammates by enabling simple and immediate conferences that rival herding everyone into a conference room.

Citizens need their government agencies to always be operating, and can’t afford to lose millions of taxpayer dollars in productivity. VTC can effectively remove the largest roadblock to more rapid and widespread adoption of telework. By breaking down the walls between government employees and telework, VTC is ensuring that the next pandemic or snowmaggedon doesn’t bring the government to a halt.

If you’d like to see the full report from the recent telework study conducted by the Government Business Council, visit our resource center. Although we do ask for readers to register, there is absolutely no cost to download the report, and other useful resources on telework and VTC.

Key Drivers Leading to Increased Adoption of Video Conferencing and Telepresence

March 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm PST

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According to Wainhouse Research, the main factors driving the adoption of video conferencing and telepresence are:

  1. Economic Pressures – increasing need to be more efficient, cut costs, and communicate with customers, partners and suppliers around the world.
  2. Globalization – not only are enterprises today managing trade across borders and outsourcing certain business functions, they also have dispersed management teams and skill sets, which lead to increased challenges for corporate culture and communication. With business flowing in all directions, enterprises have become globally integrated, stateless multinationals.
  3. Business Continuity – concern for threats such as global contagion, energy crises, and terrorism are on the rise, and business needs to be sure it can maintain operations.
  4. Better Equipment – technological advances in the industry have led to a better user experience with CD quality audio and HD quality video, as well as increased collaboration with dual streams, integration, and bridges and gatekeepers. Meanwhile prices have remained relatively flat and users benefit from a better price per performance.
  5. Unified Communications – integration between large unified communications players and video has driven awareness of conferencing and collaboration.
  6. Climate Change – social pressures and corporate responsibility policies are driving the need to reduce travel to lower carbon emissions. As government mandates and rewards for travel reduction grow, organizations will increasingly turn to video conferencing.

Do you agree? Are there any other reasons you think should be included?