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User Stories – Videoconferencing Professionals Group

Recently, an interesting discussion developed in the Videoconferencing Professionals LinkedIn group about the various ways people are using video conferencing. Below are a few of the user stories from the almost 50 comments featured that really illustrate the breadth of opportunities video conferencing holds for personal, health care and business use.

Thomas Purvis: “We have used it so a mother can see her baby in the NICU and for our troops to see children born in the US while they are at war. We also use it for telemedicine for stroke patients in rural hospitals.”

Jerry Dunn: “I have seen HD video used across continents in the fashion industry to discuss materials, patterns and designs. Instead of sending samples and drawings via FedEx – the implementation allowed the users to collaborate in real time and helped move up their time to market by months.”

Karen J Sander: “Open Brain Surgery with Operation Smile at the Military Hospital in Bogotá, Colombia: We connected doctors from Houston Children’s Hospital, George Washington Hospital in DC and Bethesda Hospital in MD. Within the hospital we also connected the OR to an auditorium, where doctors, students and visitors could see the 17 hour surgery and interact with other doctors, students and nurses. What a rush that was!!!”

Dawn Meade: “This is really geeky, but gaming! We had a group of very close friends who played table-top RPG games (think D&D, but not that particular brand). Unfortunately, a couple of them had to move across the country for work and such. With some cleverly utilized VTC equipment, we were able to continue our weekly or biweekly ‘gaming dates’ and successfully finish the ‘campaign’ despite losing some of our key players.”

Jerry Connolly: “I was at a company that had their VTC connected to an electron microscope used to observe microscopic chemical reactions. Customers could dial in and watch the tests and comment on the success or needed changes. Greatly improved time to market.”

Do you have any interesting video conferencing stories? Share your experiences below.

Video lets students learn from students, who learn from doing

Education is constantly evolving. In fact, the modern classroom and learning environment has changed dramatically from the one that many of us grew up in. New teaching philosophies and techniques are constantly emerging and the days of a teacher standing at the front of a room of half-asleep pupils lecturing from a course book seem to be coming to an end.

What we’re starting to see instead are methods like the Montessori Method which embrace more interactive environments. The key thinking behind these methods is that students are naturally curious and hungry for learning and knowledge, and will seek and learn new things through interaction, self-directed projects and observation. In addition, many of these new methods call for putting students of varying ages together, and allowing older students to act as teachers or mentors to younger ones, creating a social environment where students can pass on what they’ve learned to others.

The adoption of video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions in the classroom has allowed educators to take these concepts of project-based, self-directed learning and students teaching students a step further. By utilizing VTC solutions, students can be tasked with creating presentations on a wide variety of topics and subjects and share. These projects empower students to explore, research and interact with a subject at their own pace and level, and then share what they’ve learned via video with students across the globe. In addition to learning about these topics and teaching others, the students receive an excellent education in using new technologies.

There are a handful of excellent and recent examples of VTC solutions being used in this way to teach students through the creation of their own content. One example was the first ever Project Astronomy Competition in New South Wales, Australia (NSW) by the NSW Department of Education and TANDBERG.

The Project Astronomy Competition corresponded with the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope, and challenged students to use their VTC facilities to develop a classroom presentation on Astronomy and share it within the region. The winner, a Year 9 class at Burwood Girls High School in NSW, used their creative skills in science, mathematics and technology to secure a $10,000 TANDBERG high definition video conferencing package for their school.

Another example is the Kids Creating Community Content (KC3) International Contest being conducted by the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) and TANDBERG. The contest challenges students to create a dynamic videoconference program about their community to be offered to classrooms internationally. Not only does this contest help students learn about and look at their community in a new way, but also helps to spread knowledge of different geographies and cultures to students around the world. The completed projects are currently being displayed and judged, and the winners are expected to be announced in March.

By enabling the creation and international sharing of student content, VTC solutions are helping to educate and break down the walls separating students across the globe. Self-directed projects that help students learn and educate others around the world, now that’s a new way of teaching.

Video keeps inmates behind bars, and citizens safe

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

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

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.