3 Reasons Videoconferencing Can Save Your Agency Money and Hassle

Learn how video conferencing technology reduces travel costs and increases productivity for law enforcement

Did you know that Business travel costs a tremendous amount of money. U.S. business travel in 2014 reached $292.2 billion and is expected to advance 6.2 percent in 2015 to $310.2 billion, while total person-trip volume is expected to increase 1.7 percent to 490.4 million trips for the year. That’s why law enforcement agencies are considering video collaboration tools to reduce the cost and hassle associated with meetings.

A recent survey on PoliceOne found a shifting attitude among police departments and law enforcement agencies toward video collaboration tools, increasingly viewing them as a great and cost-effective alternative to travel. In fact, nearly 50 percent of police respondents already use video daily at their department and nearly 60 percent said they would consider using video conferencing instead of incurring travel expenses.

So why are agencies starting to look at video conferencing as an attractive alternative to setting aside budget dollars for business travel? Because video conferencing technology has come a long way and is starting to prove it’s just as effective as face-to-face meetings.

– It’s more cost effective than travel

– It’s inter-operable from any device, anywhere

– It’s simple to use and supported by cloud security


Can video conferencing up your productivity and reduce costs?

If you haven’t heard the words lately, just wait. Video conferencing is becoming the most in-demand application of the new information age. This upsurge is prompted by three factors:

  • Globalization and the need for “virtual” work groups made up of experts from many different locations require a technology that allows people to meet face-to-face with high productivity on a moment’s notice. Only video conferencing meets this demand.
  • Changes in video conferencing technology, particularly high definition and what’s being called video presence, are giving video conferences the same sense of connection and collaboration as a live meeting. In fact, they’re better than live, because video conferencing allows data sharing that is not possible in live meetings, plus the recording of video conferences provides necessary records for security and regulatory requirements. In addition, new video conferencing technology has excellent security plus advanced management and scheduling capabilities. Also, the cost of video conferencing end points has decreased ten fold since 1998. Travel costs have escalated.
  • The IP (Internet Protocol) revolution has lead to “IP everywhere” making the transmission of video conferences far less expensive, much easier to use, more reliable and significantly more scalable to meet a company’s growing requirements.The bottom line is that every company, big or small, must evaluate video conferencing as a possible application

Video-conferencing Hardware In Demand

Research firm IDC reported that worldwide sales of video-conferencing equipment were up 15.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014 while year-on-year sales increased 4 per cent, although market value for the full year was down 6.8 per cent.

Multi-coded telepresence equipment revenue declined 6.9 per cent quarter-over-quarter and 19.4 per cent year-on-year.

Room-based video system revenue increased 11.8 per cent in Q4 and 12.6 per cent year-on-year.

Personal video-conferencing systems revenue – including executive desktop systems – increased significantly, 64.8 per cent in Q4 and 25.4 per cent year-on-year.

Video infrastructure equipment revenue (US$136 million) – including MCUs and other video-related infrastructure – increased 19.9 per cent in Q4 but declined 14.9 per cent year-on-year.

Asia Pacific, revenue increased 12.2 per cent in Q4 and 5.4 per cent year-on-year.

“Although the worldwide video-conferencing equipment market enjoyed positive quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year revenue growth in some market segments in Q4 overall the market experienced its third consecutive year of declining revenue in the full-year 2014,” Rich Costello, senior analyst, Enterprise Communications Infrastructure at IDC, said. “The results are reflective of the on-going market transition from a primarily hardware-based technology to one impacted by the growing interest in software-based solutions and video subscription services.”

Morris County expands video court conferencing

Morris County is expanding its use of video conferencing for certain court proceedings in both the superior and municipal courts.

With the approval of the Board of Freeholders, Morris County Chief Information Officer John Tugman has been working the judiciary, municipal officials and the Morris County Sheriff’s Office for more than a year to have the Internet video technology installed, tested and implemented.

The capability can be used anywhere and with any device that has Internet access such as tablets, PC’s and Smart Phones.

Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo said the idea is to reduce the need to transport inmates from the county correctional facility to the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown or to municipal courts across the county.

Video conferencing for certain proceedings will reduce the inmate transportation requirement and the costs associated with sheriff’s officers, meals, overtime, fuel, maintenance and insurance,” said Mastrangelo, freeholder liaison to Information Technology. “It also eliminates public safety risks associated with transporting and guarding inmates and reduces the impact on municipal law enforcement.”

The Internet video technology is also being offered to municipal courts in the county, said Freeholder Doug Cabana, liaison to law and public safety including the courts.
“This is a way of streamlining court hearings for standard procedures such as arraignments and first appearances,” said Cabana, an attorney. “It’s using technology to improve efficiency.”

Probation officers have started using the capability to conduct video interviews from their offices with inmates, eliminating the need, in many cases, to travel to the jail.

Cabana noted the video conferencing will also facilitate the ability of an inmate to meet with his or her attorney, though not completely eliminate the need to for in-person interviews.

Trials and major pre-trial hearings will also still be conducted with defendants present in the courtroom.

Chief Information Officer Tugman said the video service is now in use by the Superior Court in Morristown, and has been successfully tested

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Fort Worth City Council to implement video conferencing

Video conferencing — a technology that families, friends and businesses have been using for years — is coming to City Council meetings, allowing both residents and council members to participate remotely.

The council approved spending $235,269 on the technology, such as new video screens and broadcast equipment, at its meeting Tuesday.

Approved by the Legislature in the 2013 session for use at public meetings, the technology will enable residents to view and speak at council meetings from a publicly posted and predetermined location.

It will also allow council members to video conference into a meeting and still count toward a quorum, City Secretary Mary Kayser said during a presentation on the technology at last week’s pre-council meeting.

“My understanding of how it came about was to allow for remote town halls, particularly in large, spread out cities,” Mayor Betsy Price said.

“And also if you have a council member who is sick or has to travel, but really needs to be part of the meeting, this allows them the chance to be part of the meeting.”

Councilwoman Ann Zadeh emphasized that the purpose of the change is not “making it easy for us not to come down here physically.”

“The main thrust is allowing citizens to participate in more far-flung areas who wouldn’t necessarily come down to City Hall,” Zadeh said.

Council members and residents must be visible, and audio must be working for the process to be valid. City staff members will be in place to assist those at the remote location. A video screen will be added to the pre-council chambers; screens are already in place in the council chambers.

Council members could video conference into the meeting using a computer or tablet, said Eric Upchurch of the city’s information technology department. The technology will take about 90 days to implement and will include training for council members.

By Caty Hirst

How video conferencing helps businesses cut costs

Over the years, the rise in technology (primarily smartphones) has led to a phenomenal increase in video conferencing technology, either through calls or instant messaging (IM) chats. While the percentage of individual use of video and phone conference services like Polycom is on the rise, businesses have also caught on, finding that the adoption of video conferencing can not only reduce costs, but improve the versatility of their communications infrastructure as well.

Aside from the obvious cost improvements, video conferencing also allows for everyone, regardless of setting, to communicate with one another. In all reality though, the benefits associated with video conferencing are abundant. Some of these benefits include:

1.)  Rapid Outreach

Arguably one of the greatest benefits of video conferencing is the speed at which vital information can be communicated. Since most businesses have competitors, the simple aspect of being able to communicate important details (goals, sales quotas, deadlines, etc.) can be the stepping stone needed to get out ahead of the pack, so to speak. Another fantastic benefit is the ability to hold virtual meetings. What this means is that leaders, managers, associates, and employees can basically talk amongst one another from any location.

2.)  Optimized Business Operations

For the most part, the bulk of communication within a business occurs through email because it is fast and convenient. However, emails can easily become misconstrued and interpreted wrong, likely resulting in a lack of communication. With video conferencing, however, because the communication is taking place face-to-face, business leaders can make sure their managers completely understand what is being asked of them. This in turn, can be translated effectively to employees. Not only that, but video conferencing also allows for any misunderstandings or questions to be adjusted immediately.

3.)  An Eco-Friendly Improvement

Lately, the trend with most businesses is reducing their carbon footprint in order to alleviate some of the negative effects that might be afflicted on the surrounding environment. While it may not seem like it at first, video conferencing can actually help reduce this carbon footprint simply by reducing the amount of travel needed to facilitate business. Business executives are often on the move, traveling from place to place. This usually means taking a car or plane, which produce harmful emissions into the environment. However, the adoption of video conferencing can eliminate a significant amount of travel by allowing executives to communicate virtually.

As you can see, besides reducing costs, establishing a video conferencing system within a business can result in a multitude of benefits. Ultimately, a business needs to be able to adapt and respond to various stimuli, both internally and externally. Video conferencing helps bridge the communication gap.

In-person jail visits to continue after Dallas County rejects videoconferencing idea. Thoughts?

Face-to-face visits will continue at the Dallas County Jail after county commissioners threw out a proposed contract with a videoconferencing company that would have banned them. The company, Securus Technologies, was seeking a contract to provide video visitations at the jail. Commissioners said they were still interested in the service, but not at the cost of stopping in-person visits. The ban on face-to-face visits appeared to be a way for the company, which is based in North Texas, to recoup its expenses for installing the video-visitation system. The company was going to spend around $5 million to set up the technology. It would then charge $10 for each 20-minute video chat. Dallas County would have received up to a 25 percent commission on those calls. Prohibiting in-person visits almost surely would have increased the number of video chats, which in turn would boost revenues for Securus — and for the county.

But when details of the contract were made public last week, County Judge Clay Jenkins led a last-ditch effort to reject it. Backed by inmates’ rights advocates, Jenkins said the contract made video visits too costly.

“It is a way to make money … off the backs of families,” he said.

He also said eliminating in-person visits would be inhumane. Commissioners were flooded with emails opposing the contract. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Commissioners Court, 17 people showed up to speak out against the plan. They included a man convicted of a murder for which he was later exonerated and a former state legislator, Terri Hodge, who spent time in federal prison for tax evasion. After more than two hours of discussion, the court voted to pull the item from its agenda. The staff was instructed to seek a new contract under different terms. Those new terms are to include the continuation of in-person visits and elimination of the county’s commission on video visits.

The five companies that bid on the original request from the county will be eligible to submit new proposals.

The vote was 4-1, with Jenkins the sole dissenter. He wanted to completely start over with the bidding process, opening it to any company.

Most jail inmates, he said, are awaiting trial — meaning they are legally presumed to be innocent — or have been convicted only of misdemeanors. Neither the county nor its private contractor should be looking to make money off of the inmates or their families, Jenkins said.

Though he wanted the commissioners to take broader action Tuesday, he said their vote was a step in the right direction. “I am very pleased with the court today in looking at these commissions and saying that they want to get out of the commission business,” Jenkins said.

Dallas County has been exploring video visitation for years. It’s been portrayed as an additional option for inmates’ friends and families who can’t or won’t trek downtown to the jail. But county staff acknowledged that the technology is also intended to save money. Managing visitors and moving inmates to visitation areas takes significant staff time, they said.

Commissioner Mike Cantrell said he thought the per-minute cost of the video chats was fair. He said the county spends about $107 million a year to run the jail and brings in about $10.8 million in bond forfeitures, fines and other assessments on inmates. But the commissioners were unanimous in not wanting to eliminate in-person visits. That was also the main concern of the plan’s opponents who spoke at the meeting, including several defense attorneys. Hodge, the former state legislator, urged the commissioners to consider the families of poor inmates.

“Many of these families don’t have BlackBerrys, smartphones and computer terminals in their homes to allow for video visitation,” she said. Richard Miles, who spent nearly 15 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, said visits from loved ones are vital to the well-being and rehabilitation of inmates. “My father died while I was in prison,” he said. “What did I hold on to? My visits.”

The Dallas Morning News



InfoComm is in Full Swing! Huawei showcases SME videoconferencing solutions at InfoComm

Huawei to showcase cost-effective solutions ideal for SMEs, small boardrooms and remote branches

“The VAR community will want to visit the Huawei booth to check out the best videoconferencing solutions on the market,” said Glen Ziegler, senior director of Channel Sales for Huawei Enterprise USA. “Our cost-effective solutions are ideal for SMEs, small boardrooms and remote branches.”



Mobile videoconferencing for enhanced emergency medical communication – a shot in the dark or a walk in the park?


Story and images by 7thSpace Interactive

Videoconferencing on mobile phones may enhance communication, but knowledge on its quality in various situations is needed before it can be used in medical emergencies. Mobile phones automatically activate loudspeaker functionality during videoconferencing, making calls particularly vulnerable to background noise.

The aim of this study was to investigate if videoconferencing can be used between lay bystanders and Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) operators for initial emergency calls during medical emergencies, under suboptimal sound and light conditions.

Methods: Videoconferencing was tested between 90 volunteers and an emergency medical dispatcher in a standardized scenario of a medical emergency. Three different environments were used for the trials: indoors with moderate background noise, outdoors with daylight and much background noise, and outdoors during nighttime with little background noise.