Chances are, you’ve heard this line or a variation thereof before: “Video conferencing improves collaboration and lowers costs for organizations around the world.” While this is true, for this blog, I want to focus on ways video is changing government by sharing the story of two government agencies that are using video in new and unique ways.

We frequently hear how important it is to “do more with less.” In the face of sequestrations and reduced traveling budgets, this is a reality, and agencies are turning to alternatives like video conferencing. Video technologies such as telepresence are streamlining government processes and increasing collaboration, all while cutting costs.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of telepresence in agencies is enabling telework. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), one of the largest proponents of telework, continues to prove that when agencies are equipped with reliable collaboration technology, they can maintain efficiency. Sixty-four percent of USPTO employees work remotely and with telepresence technologies they can ensure productivity across a geographically dispersed workforce. Not only are they cutting costs and reducing travel, but in times of emergency USPTO can continue its operations. Take for example October 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. Government agencies across the East Coast were forced to cease operations due to the destructive storm, but the USPTO operated at nearly full capacity.

Investing in Cisco TelePresence allows the USPTO to increase workforce efficiency and flexibility. But it isn’t the only government agency unlocking the power of in-person collaboration.

In San Antonio telepresence has moved from the boardroom to the courtroom. In an effort to maximize both the court’s and defendants’ resources, the San Antonio Municipal Court implemented Cisco TelePresence. Interactive video kiosks are now available throughout the city, granting residents face-to-face access to court officials so they could resolve routine offenses from the comfort of their neighborhood.

San Antonio’s use of e-warrants is also pretty impressive. With real-time video, detectives can be connected to judges within minutes to request a warrant. Thanks to telepresence, a process that used to take two to four hours it now takes 15 to 20 minutes saving taxpayer dollars and keeping citizens safe.

Government agencies are not only using video conferencing and telepresence to reduce costs; they are finding new and creative ways to leverage this technology to improve the citizen experience and maximize resources.  Personally, that’s how I’d like to see my tax dollars spent.

Do you work in a government agency that uses video? If so, share your stories.



Scott Aukema

No Longer at Cisco