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VTC — empowering the new Guard

December 10, 2009 at 1:50 pm PST

TANDBERG recently had the honor of attending the 2009 National Guard Bureau Joint Information Technology Conference in Florida, where the focus was increasing communication and collaboration among Guard units and between the National Guard and Air National Guard.

As the nation’s primary homeland defense and the first line for bringing assistance, aid and relief to areas of America damaged by natural disasters, the National Guard and Air National Guard have an extremely important mission.

Situations where the National Guard and Air National Guard are needed are often chaotic. In fact, in times of attack and natural disaster, communication resources are often damaged and unavailable. This makes it difficult for communication and collaboration with controlling officers and even between units.

Luckily, some recent technological advances such as HD and mobile video teleconferencing (VTC) and satellite communication, are now available for the National Guard and Air National Guard to help them coordinate during attacks and natural disasters.

By utilizing mobile VTC solutions that receive and send signals via satellite, National Guard units can communicate face-to-face with their commanding officers and other units regardless of their location.

Our conversations with National Guard and Air National Guard IT personnel during the conference revealed a strong desire to see communication and collaboration increase, but many were concerned that disparate networks and firewalls could be a potential deal breaker in the implementation of VTC solutions.

In times of recession and tight budgets, many agencies are fearful to implement solutions that would require significant investments and overhauls in their network infrastructure. This is why interoperability is so important for the National Guard, Air National Guard and other agencies. VTC solutions, such as those offered by TANDBERG, are interoperable and can function with network equipment from many different vendors. This ensures VTC solutions can be implemented without significant investments and overhauls in the datacenter.

It’s the National Guard and Air National Guard’s mission to protect America from attack and disaster. At TANDBERG, we’re excited to be a part of outfitting a new Guard, one that communicates in the most chaotic of situations and more effectively and efficiently completes their mission.

NASA makes STEM cool via video

December 8, 2009 at 5:33 pm PST

In our country there are very few things held in such high regard as a child’s education. This is why America spends billions of dollars annually to educate its children and why parents scramble to procure educational products and relocate to areas with the finest schools.

The fact is, education is more than just opening a child’s mind to the world around them, it’s a prerequisite for success. An education does more than just fill the mind with knowledge, it imparts the skills and abilities needed to compete in the global business environment and job market.

Today’s high-growth industries, such as network security and biopharmaceuticals, require employees with a vast knowledge and understanding of what education professionals today are calling STEM subjects. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, which are all subjects that American children seem to be falling behind in.

With other nations fast eroding the edge that America held for years in science and technology, the need to refocus on STEM subjects and make them “cool” and exciting again is greater than ever. It’s in this area that video teleconferencing (VTC) can help.

Hands-on learning and the ability to see the things in action remains the most effective and efficient way to ensure that the message is retained. VTC gives teachers the ability to show students how the lessons they are learning in the classroom relate and apply to real life.

Some phenomenal examples of VTC bringing STEM subjects to life in the classroom are the programs being made available by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s VTC and Webinar programs bring real life experts and scientists into the classroom and help to illustrate the way subjects like algebra are essential in America’s space program.

By witnessing science, technology, engineering and math in action, students see the real world applications of the very subjects they’re studying. What better way to demonstrate just how directly related their coursework is to their career aspirations. This also helps to keep students focused and active in their own educations, and makes some of those boring subjects just a little more exciting.

After all…nothing makes rocket science more exciting than cool explosions. Now that’s a new way of teaching.

Can you see me now?

December 3, 2009 at 5:34 pm PST

We recently authored a post in response to an article that quoted Continental Airlines CEO Larry Kellner who shot down his company’s first forays into video teleconferencing (VTC)due to quality and because business is done “in the bar, over dinner, at the golf course.”

The truth is, that was then, and this is now. The VTC technologies available today have seen significant increases in picture and audio quality. Two major developments, the introduction of HD video teleconferencing and the rapid and widespread adoption of high-bandwidth broadband Internet access, have taken the already improved VTC technologies to unprecedented heights in picture and audio quality.

The improved picture and audio quality of VTC has led to doctors diagnosing via video, enabled students to tour the Great Barrier Reef from desks in Indiana, and is removing a major hurdle for government organizations that had concerns about embracing the technology due to perceived issues with clarity.

In fact, TANDBERG just announced that its Codian MSE 8000 Solution received Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) certification from the Federal government. The Codian family is the first and only truly high definition video conferencing bridge to be JITC certified. This certification acts as a virtual stamp of approval, and adds the Codian series to a list of pre-tested products that government organizations and defense agencies can purchase and implement quickly.

The value of VTC for bringing people together regardless of the distance that separates them, enabling collaboration and increasing efficiency while decreasing costs is documented. The rapid adoption and recent JITC certification of HD video teleconferencing solutions shows that the concerns are gone, and only the benefits remain.

The future is here and it’s crystal clear.

Video Conferencing Backstage II: Ensuring a Quality Experience

Video communications are enabling users to connect from anywhere around the globe.

This is transforming business practices while saving organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel expenses.  As video becomes more increasing pervasive in the communications network, the expectation of quality, easy to manage calls are continually increasing.  How do administrators meet or exceed these expectations with the proliferation of different devices, vendors and bandwidth?

One consideration has to be managing multisite calls, connecting from locations around the world.  What if a meeting requires an account manager in Dubai, a business development analyst in London and an executive in New York?  There are a number of tools available that will allow multisite calls from around the globe, but is there a solution that will ensure an optimal experience for every participant on the call, regardless of the endpoint, bandwidth or even the video standard?

A multipoint control unit (MCU) is a critical infrastructure component

A quality MCU can help ensure the best multisite experience, and will allow the widest range of devices to connect, while preserving the natural experience for all participants.  In addition, there are MCUs available that will maximize the available resolution for each endpoint, regardless of whether it is standard or high definition.

When deploying a multisite solution, be sure to thoroughly research the options available for creating the best experience for end users.  Online demonstrations of MCUs are available to see the difference before you commit.

5 Factors for Law Firms to Consider Re: Video Conferencing

December 2, 2009 at 11:36 am PST

Generally speaking, law firms tend to be early adopters of innovative, niche technologies.  Not surprising then, law firms were quick to implement video conferencing solutions to cut travel.  By doing so, they can see two immediate benefits:

  • Increased billable hours through reduced commuting and business travel
  • Improved work / life balance

Although some law firms are using video conferencing for everything from recruiting top talent to depositions, many firms are not getting the most out of their video communications investment.  As early adopters of this technology, law firms may not be benefiting from recent advances in picture quality, and operational ease.  Therefore, it is important for them to ask the following questions to re-evaluate their existing video conferencing solution:

  1. Is easy to use, even for non-technical people?
  2. Can it easily manage multiple endpoints regardless of manufacturer – therefore, protecting your investment in legacy equipment?
  3. Does it allow you to talk with other systems by utilizing firewall transversal?
  4. Does it have cutting-edge features that clients and employees now expect such as mobility and presence?
  5. Does it deliver a “high-touch” experience with the highest-quality resolution?

If you answered no to any of these questions, its probably time for you to investigate upgrades as you are probably not getting the most out of your visual communications investment.