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Video keeps inmates behind bars, and citizens safe

January 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm PST

Greg Donell Benson, who was jailed on felony charges including assaulting a public servant, was in a Galveston, Texas, courtroom meeting with his lawyer on Dec. 30, 2009. During the meeting in which only Benson, his attorney and bailiffs were present, the inmate allegedly slipped out of his handcuffs and attacked his attorney.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, Brian Lee Carter was in court to face charges of burglary of an auto, escape from a penal institution, aggravated burglary, vandalism and criminal trespass in Hamilton County, Tenn. When being brought back into the hallway by bailiffs, Carter dropped a homemade knife, raising concerns since he had previously been allowed to be alone in a small room with a public defender while unknowingly armed with a dangerous weapon.

These aren’t scenes from an action movie, pages from a horror story or even episodes of a courtroom drama. These situations really happened.

Fingers can be pointed in these circumstances. People may say the court security wasn’t tight enough, or that proper protocols weren’t followed. But there is one underlying question; why are we bringing dangerous criminals out of jails and putting them in situations where they can more easily hurt others or escape?

The adoption of video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions in the judicial system is an alternative to transporting inmates that can make courts safer. VTC solutions enable prisoners to appear in court and interact with judges and other court attendees as if they were in the same room, without them ever being transported outside of prison. This honors the due process rights of all defendants by providing clear visual and audio representation of all parties involved while eliminating the risk to citizens and public service personnel.

In addition to public safety, VTC solutions in courtroom settings can also go a long way in helping reduce expenses and save taxpayer dollars. Conducting court proceedings via video allows less money to be wasted on guards and transportation, and permits prosecutors to stay in one, centralized location instead of being spread across multiple courts. Also, with the Supreme Court recently ruling that all forensic and scientific experts be present during trials for cross examination, allowing testimony via video can save additional transportation and security dollars.

A great example of the benefits of VTC in the judicial system is the pilot program currently being run at the Holman Correctional Facility by the Alabama Department of Corrections. Despite only being implemented in some prisons and courtrooms through the pilot program, VTC solutions have been used by judges to hear multiple cases and have received praise on many levels. It is estimated that when fully implemented, the VTC solutions could save the state millions of dollars over time, and also help keep public servants and citizens safe.

VTC solutions in the courtroom and in prisons are revolutionizing the judicial system and making it safer, more efficient and more effective. Now that’s a new way of serving and protecting.

2009: The Year Even Clooney Lost Out to Video Communications

December 30, 2009 at 10:02 pm PST

Guest Post By Larry Lisser

Recently, I made the obligatory trip to George Clooney’s latest movie, ‘Up in the Air’. Predictable results followed: Clooney played the same guy he often does and my wife was just happy to have watched his pretty face on the big screen for two hours. What I didn’t expect was to see how central video communications was to the story line. This got me thinking.

There can be little debate that the year 2009 was the best yet for video communications. After years of false starts (ie. before widespread broadband) and then a somewhat remarkably slow start even once its quality issues were no longer, video found its legs this year. Indicators of video’s accelerating market momentum were everywhere, coming at us in the forms of mainstream media coverage, viral user base growth and of course M&A activity.

The acquisition roster proved to be the strongest evidence yet. By the time the year was done, we counted three buyers and four deals with bets aimed squarely on the future of video over IP communications. Grand total: in excess of $6B. No small bets by the buyers of Tandberg, Skype, LifeSize and SightSpeed (in order of transaction size).

up-in-the-air-reviewNow back to Clooney. He played a hired grinch; someone who traveled the world every week to deliver pink slip news on behalf of his firm’s corporate clients. Early in the plot, an upstart member of his own head office team tried to re-write his playbook though -- and eliminate travel expenses -- by introducing video as a means to fire people from afar.

Clooney pushed back (charmingly, of course), professing that what he did for a living required in-person communications and could not be done as effectively by camera. I’ll let you discover the rest at the movies, but suffice to say that I came away with a few year-end revelations about video:

  1. What we once thought to be the obvious and pervasive applications for video (ie. travel replacement), may not end up being the ones that spur exponential growth. Think video as a component of a process and not just as an advanced form of communications.
  2. The video enabled call center is coming. Actually, it’s already here but few of us have experienced it real-time. Imagine for a moment the difference in empathy you and an agent might exchange during a heated customer service conversation about a canceled flight -- if you were looking at each other.
  3. I’m shifting terminology from ‘Video-Conferencing’ to ‘Visual Communications’. The former has become too limiting. Conferencing implies just that, while visual communications can and will mean so much more.

So the year ends with bankers, end-users, the media and now Hollywood having told us that 2010 and beyond hold much more than just promise for video communications. As Andy Abramson put properly into context for us this week, if VoIP was the industry of the decade, the next ten years will belong to video over IP. Or Visual Communications, if you prefer.

Post re-published from Telephony2Market.

No couch needed: delivering telemental health treatment via video

December 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm PST

Here at the TANDBERG Public Sector blog, we’ve talked at great length about the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in healthcare applications. We’ve discussed how VTC solutions can deliver quality healthcare to individuals who are without access to the specialists they need. We’ve even touched upon a handful of revolutionary ways that VTC solutions are helping to save lives, such as telestroke applications, and ways VTC has improved the standard of living for patients managing chronic health conditions.

In addition to these applications, there’s another area of healthcare where VTC is seeing rapid adoption, telemental health and substance abuse services.

Many people find it difficult to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Issues around the availability of specialists combined with a social and cultural stigma about seeking psychiatric treatment often result in inadequate care.

VTC solutions help combat many of these issues by making specialists available to a wider audience without a significant investment from the provider or patients. Delivering psychiatric treatment via video, doctors reduce the need for patient travel and allow them to seek treatment privately.

A great example of the telemental health applications of VTC in action is the Lyndon Baynes Johnson (LBJ) Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago, which is utilizing VTC to allow veterans with post traumatic stress disorder to communicate with the US Department of Veterans Affairs clinical psychology providers located on the other side of American Samoa. This enables veterans who are logistically isolated from specialists to still receive imperative treatment for a condition that manifests itself in emotions ranging from fear and sadness, to anxiety, changes in eating habits and nightmares.

VTC is so effective for delivering psychiatric care that the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) recently released guidelines for delivering psychological and substance abuse treatment via video. These guidelines are essentially best practices for developing and practicing coherent, effective, safe and sustainable telemental health practices.

We applaud the ATA for their work and and for creating guidelines that are important best practices for ensuring that VTC solutions bring safe and effective care to those who need it. We’re also proud to be providing the VTC solutions that are empowering a new way of caring at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago and other organizations around the world.

Video helps to overcome a years worth of challenges

December 24, 2009 at 10:49 am PST

With the holidays here, it’s the perfect time to look back and reflect on the previous year that was and think about the one coming up.

2009 was a challenging year for many people, with weather phenomena, H1N1 and the ongoing recession making “business as usual” difficult across the globe. Fortunately, the adoption of video teleconferencing (VTC) has been there to help government agencies, organizations and employees continue to serve the American people.

VTC solutions have been the bridge connecting people and enabling them to interact and collaborate regardless of the distance between them. This has made continuity in the face of pandemic flu a much smaller obstacle, allowing government employees to interact without having to be in the office where they can become infected or infect others.

As recent snowstorms rocked the east coast, teleworking government employees utilizing VTC solutions could interact as if they were in the same room without having to navigate dangerous roads.

States struggling under budget deficits during the recession have also been able to find savings in VTC solutions. Schools have been empowered to share resources and teachers, bringing better educations to students without significant expenditures. Court houses and police have also been given the ability to get search warrants and witness testimony via VTC, saving money and time.

2009 has come and gone, but not without some unique and interesting challenges. At TANDBERG, we’re proud to have been supplying the VTC solutions that have enabled government agencies, organizations and employees to continue to serve the American people through the previous year’s many obstacles and look forward to bringing a new way of working into 2010.

From all of us at TANDBERG, we’d like to thank you for an amazing 2009 and wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and new year.

Delivering doctors via video means better care for veterans

December 22, 2009 at 10:22 pm PST

As Americans, we enjoy unprecedented freedoms and liberties, but only thanks to the soldiers who have and continue to sacrifice everything to fight for them. Families and friends, comfort and homes are left thousands of miles behind as soldiers deploy to unfamiliar, often unfriendly locations across the globe where injury and even death can await them.

When these soldiers do finally arrive back to their families and homes, many face a new set of challenges, especially those that have been wounded in combat.

For wounded veterans, life can be a constant battle even when they return home. Many need constant care from doctors, others need conditions monitored or regular visits to doctors and specialists. Many times, this means strain on families and loved ones who have to prepare and travel with them from their homes to distant doctors on a regular basis.

In an effort to provide quality medical care and reduce the significant impact on veterans’ families, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been turning to an unlikely ally, video teleconferencing (VTC).

By embracing VTC technology and solutions, the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and its Care Coordination Home Telehealth program are giving wounded veterans a direct connection to their doctors and medical staff via video. This enables doctors to monitor medical conditions and vital data from a distance without having to travel to the patient, or vice versa.

For Joseph “Jay” Briseno, Jr., and his family, this new program has had a significant impact. Jay was wounded by gunfire during a tour in Iraq that left him with permanent paralysis, blindness and brain injury. A specialized telehealth unit was created by the VA and TANDBERG to bring Jay’s medical team right to his bedside. This not only ensures that his health can be constantly monitored, but also allows doctors to make more educated decisions about whether Jay needs to brought into the hospital for treatment, which is a difficult process requiring ambulance transport.

At TANDBERG, we’re proud to be creating VTC solutions that enhance the lives of veterans wounded while defending our freedom. Empowering a new way of caring for veterans is just a small way we can show our appreciation for their patriotism and sacrifice.