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Going green can get your agency out of the red

October 20, 2009 at 4:28 pm PST

Scientific reports of melting polar icecaps and global climate change have led to people all over the world seeing green. With carbon offsets being purchased to counteract the environmental impact of everything from corporate travel to the Super Bowl, green has clearly become the new black, affecting every business and individual around the world.

In a world that’s suddenly gone green, the government has been slow to embrace green initiatives. In fact, a recent study done by the 1105 Government Information Group found that green technology initiatives are one of the lowest priorities for government.

The study, which was conducted by surveying 1105’s extensive readership of government influencers, asked respondents to rank 18 technology initiatives in order of priority and importance to their organization. The findings were startling in today’s green-obsessed society, with green being ranked a lowly 16th out of 18.

At TANDBERG, we believe that green initiatives shouldn’t be the rented mule of government priorities when it comes to technology spending. With the ongoing recession, one of the major challenges facing our government is unbalanced budgets and a need to cut spending. Green initiatives may help save the planet, but they are also one of the best ways to save money over time.

Take video teleconferencing (VTC) for example. VTC solutions enable people to communicate face-to-face as if they were in the same room regardless of how far apart they are. This allows agencies to significantly reduce their carbon footprint by making emissions-spewing car and plane travel less necessary, and also saves money in plane fare, hotel costs, per diem and productivity loss while employees are out of pocket.

What’s even more interesting about VTC is that it not only makes organizations greener and more efficient, but also addresses some of the initiatives that were the highest priority to the government based on the study’s findings. These include:

  • Increase operational efficiency/productivity – VTC and telework reduce commutes, cut travel time and effectively make employees more productive … and happier.
  • Information sharing – VTC enables face-to-face communication and the ability to share desktop images, ensuring that information travels quickly and effectively.
  • Continuity of operations – In the event of disaster or epidemic, VTC equipped employees are capable of completing mission-critical tasks from the safety of their own homes.
  • Increase collaboration with other agencies – Fast and effective communication regardless of physical location means that agencies can collaborate regardless of where they are located.

With green initiatives and a desire to save the planet at the forefront of today’s most important societal issues, it’s imperative that the government reprioritize its technology spending and lead the way by embracing technologies like VTC, which can make government more efficient. With the money-saving power of green technology and the current economic downturn, can government really afford not to?

For more information on how your agency can go green, and a calculator that enables you to figure out your agency’s true carbon footprint from TANDBERG, visit

User Stories – Gary

The next in our User Stories series, Gary describes how video conferencing and telepresence technology can cause new users to forget they’re not in the same room.

What is Immersive Telepresence?

Immersive TANDBERG Telepresence T1

Immersive TANDBERG Telepresence T1

Many products are labeled “telepresence,” but the truth is most don’t deliver the true-to-life immersive experience that is the hallmark of telepresence.  According to Frost & Sullivan, telepresence is a tightly integrated set of visual, audio and network technologies and services that together deliver an immersive, life-like communication experience.  But what does this mean?

Three Qualities of Immersive Telepresence:

The goal for immersive telepresence is to reproduce the best characteristics of direct human interaction that result from a face-to-face meeting. This is accomplished when:

  1. Participants can all see each other on the screen no matter who is talking. Unless everyone is visible you miss important non-verbal expressions and reactions that provide important insight. It’s arguable that non-verbal queues are even more telling than verbal communication.
  2. Participants can all see and hear each other in the highest clarity, no matter how they join the call. It should be true-to-life, so you should be able to see the people you are talking to as clearly as if they were sitting across the table from you.
  3. The technology is  seamless. Participants shouldn’t be aware of the technology that enables the immersive experience—they should simply be able to go about their business without worrying about how it’s being supported. This includes easy sharing of multimedia and addition and removal of participants from the call.

As with all visual communication tools, telepresence must deliver an interoperable, consistent, predictable and reliable collaboration experience.  Done right, it will change the way your business gets done.

The inflated price tag for broadband

October 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm PST

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been tasked with creating a national broadband policy for the US that would bring high-bandwidth broadband access to all Americans. In their first report, the FCC placed the price tag at a staggering $350 billion. Granted, that is the cost of a super-fast 100mbps broadband network which more than accommodates current bandwidth-hogging applications and activities, but even a slower 3mbps network was priced at $20 billion.

Although many Americans who live in rural and under-served suburban areas would agree that this price is reasonable, it has the potential to cause fear and resentment in some tax payers; even though the private sector is expected to foot a large part of the bill.

At TANDBERG, we feel that broadband is something that no American should have to live without. We support the expansion of broadband infrastructure across the country, but we don’t feel that the price tag is as accurate as it can be.

Why? Much like the more expensive washing machine that cuts back on water usage, or the pricey double-paned windows that cut heating expenses, broadband infrastructure’s initial steep investment is going to lead to significant savings over time.

A great example of this savings is TANDBERG’s video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions. Broadband enables VTC and other advanced communication technologies, and VTC use can lead to significant cost savings.

By enabling and embracing broadband and VTC, the government will be making significant strides in the proliferation of teleworkers. Teleworkers save considerable tax payer dollars, and reduce operating expenses for the businesses and government agencies they work for.

Teleworkers using VTC have less need to commute since they’re able to communicate face-to-face from anywhere. This reduces the need for pricey transportation projects and infrastructure paid for with tax-payer dollars. Teleworkers also cost their employers less money since they use less resources, are more content, productive and have better work-life balances.

The use of VTC in education and healthcare environments can also save significant amounts of money. We’ve detailed these uses and how they can be more efficient and effective than traditional healthcare and educational practices in previous blog posts, and the potential for cost savings from these implementations is downright astounding.

When reading the FCC’s report on the estimated price tag of a national broadband policy, don’t let sticker shock jade you into thinking that the return on the investment can’t possibly justify the costs. The TRUE cost of broadband is much lower when the ultimate cost savings is taken into account.

When it comes to broadband in America, the need is great, and the return will more than justify the expense.

A new way to teach

October 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm PST

I’ve written extensively about the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in education here at the TANDBERG Public Sector blog, and there’s a reason for that. In today’s educational environment, VTC is not only a useful tool, but also an answer to some difficult problems and questions plaguing school districts today.

With 48 out of 50 states currently looking down the barrel of significant budget shortfalls, state and local spending has been cut and expenditures are getting the axe. In many places, those cuts have been in education spending.

VTC has the ability to make education more efficient and cost effective. For many smaller districts, VTC can improve educational opportunities without increasing costs. If a teacher of a particular subject is unavailable locally or would cost too much to transport, they can instead appear via VTC to teach their classes. Also, virtual field trips via VTC enable all of the education without the need for a bus, bus driver and multiple admission costs.

The advantages of embracing VTC in traditional educational environments are numerous and obvious. However, the advantages of VTC are even more pronounced and impressive in some of the more untraditional and innovative installations.

Take this recent article in Technology & Learning Magazine for example. The Kentucky School for the Deaf has a student body of approximately 150 students, which is only 3% of the total population of high school and middle school students in the district. That’s dwarfed by the national average of 10%, which means that the students have less opportunity to interact with other deaf individuals.

In an effort to bring deaf students from different areas together, the school purchased TANDBERG systems with dual screens, one of the speaker and one for the interpreter.

The new system has been used to enable interaction between deaf students in different states. The system has also allowed the school to share resources such as AP teachers with other districts.

There’s more to VTC in educational environments than just cutting costs. VTC is enable a new way of teaching, and TANDBERG is proud to be at the forefront.