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Video helps to overcome a years worth of challenges

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

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.

Suspects on Video = Safety for Citizens

In a recent post we discussed Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to bring terror suspects, including the alleged mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, to New York City to stand trial.

The decision to have the defendants, including accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants, stand trial inside the United States and just blocks away from Ground Zero was met with concern from many Americans who felt that extremists could use the trial as an opportunity to stage another attack on the city.

Now, New York City’s top cop, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, is echoing those concerns. In fact, he’s asking Congress for additional funds and stating the $75 million requested by Senator Charles Schumer is woefully inadequate to properly prepare and secure the city.

In a recent USA Today article, the Commissioner stressed the sheer cost of security alone is too much for the city to handle by itself. This raises additional questions about the decision to try these accused terrorists in the United States, and more specifically in a city that is already considered a top terrorist target.

Commissioner Kelly’s plea for funds is just another reason why TANDBERG whole-heartedly supports finding an alternate solution to holding the trial within our borders. Although we believe in the American justice system, we feel it’s unnecessary to expose American citizens to even the slightest increase in probability of attack, especially when alternatives are available.

In an effort to decrease the probability of attack, and to reduce the rapidly increasing security expense being incurred by a country and city struggling to get past significant economic hardships, Attorney General Eric Holder should instead turn to technology, specifically video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions, to conduct the trial. This would enable the defendants to appear in court regardless of their physical location, eliminating the need to transport them to New York City and reducing the potential of attack.

We believe that VTC solutions have the ability to more effectively and efficiently conduct the trial and improve the safety of American citizens at a significantly smaller cost than the dollars needed for additional security. In fact, we’re so adamant that we previously offered to provide the equipment and services needed FREE OF CHARGE until the trial ended.

That offer is still on the table. Why? Because when it comes to America’s safety, even a small chance of attack is too large a risk.

User Stories – Anna

Video conferencing user Anna describes how face-to-face video communication has improved her client relationships.

Why race? Get to the top via video…

In a recent post we discussed how STEM subjects are becoming increasingly important in preparing students for the hi-tech, hi-demand jobs of the future. The fact is, there is a renewed focus on STEM subjects, core curriculum and all subjects. That’s because American students are losing ground compared to the rest of the world.

This is why President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have fired the starting gun on Race to the Top, an initiative that will distribute $4.35 billion in grants intended to help revitalize and reform the American education system. The funds are to be spent on turning around low performing schools, improving teacher and administrator talent, establishing standards and creating systems to help monitor success and perpetuate best practices.

These aren’t small tasks to accomplish, but there are tools that school systems can acquire to help them along the way. One of these tools is video teleconferencing (VTC), which can positively impact schools and help them address every one of these areas.

When working to turn around low performing schools, VTC can have significant and positive benefits in the classroom, such as:

  • Virtual fieldtrips – Virtual fieldtrips are inexpensive and efficient ways to give students first-person experiences and let them actively participate for real-life application of the lessons.
  • Credit replacement – Students falling behind can utilize VTC for credit replacement and get themselves back on track.
  • Guest speakers – Experts from various fields and anywhere on the globe come right into the classroom for interactive discussions.
  • Resource sharing – Schools utilize VTC to share resources, including teachers. This means subjects frequently being cut – such as art, music and languages – can be maintained at even the most resource-strapped schools.

But the benefits of VTC in the educational environment don’t stop at the classroom door.

The Race to the Top initiative calls for improving teacher and administrator talent, which is yet another area where VTC can benefit schools. With VTC, teachers and principals can attend seminars, connect and share best practices all without expensive travel and missing school days.

By integrating VTC solutions across a region, school administrators can easily meet to discuss the establishment of universal academic standards and identify the practices that have been effective and ineffective at helping students reach those standards.

Here at TANDBERG, we commend the effort to improve America’s schools and give them the resources to make the necessary changes in the form of the Race to the Top funds. We’re also sure that America’s schools will regain top status. However, why race to the top when you can get there via video? It’s cheaper and faster and the views are the same. Now that’s a new way of learning.