Video conferencing’s time may be here, driven largely by the environmental policies of the government.
Informal discussions after a presentation in Wellington last week by supplier Tandberg and its main New Zealand agent, Canon, revealed that the State Services Commission has put together a pilot business case for the introduction of high-definition video conferencing across government departments and agencies.
The Prime Minister was said to have been very impressed at a recent demonstration of the technology, linking Canberra and Wellington.
It’s expected that the SSC’s e-projects team will facilitate cross-agency discussions on the likely implementation.
The Government Shared Network (GSN) is seen as an important element. “They’d have to be involved,” said one government attendee at the presentation.
Last week two new agencies, the Department of Internal Affairs and New Zealand Police, signed up to use the GSN, joining nine others already committed.
Inland Revenue, Fisheries, Education and Health are at various stages of development with video conferencing.
Better access to bandwidth and the affordability of the technology were seen as the keys.
Some government agencies were said to have issues about usability but the more important question was, as always, who was going to provide the funding.
State-owned Meridian Energy is an early adopter of high definition video conferencing. It has installed 14 video systems in its new, carbon-neutral headquarters building currently being erected on the Wellington wharves (see page 18).
Tandberg country manager Jaron Burbidge says the technology is ready for prime time.He notes that new management software will automatically link video conferencing points, scheduling sessions much as Microsoft Outlook does.
“99% of our customers are achieving return on investment within 12 months,” he says.
Tandberg, a Norwegian company, claims to have 40% of the world’s high-definition video conferencing market. However, one 2006 study of unit shipments in the overall video conferencing market, from Wainhouse Research, shows rival Polycom with 42% market share and Tandberg with 21%.
Since then, however, Tandberg has acquired Codian, a developer of high definition video conferencing infrastructure.
Polycom claims 75% of the voice conferencing market.
The joint presentation was unusual, in that there was little said about the technology. Rather, both Tandberg and Canon were keen to get the message across that they were “green” and had environmentally sustainable policies.
It was, mostly, a government departmental audience, so they were preaching to the right people, given the Government’s recent policy announcements. Video conferencing at that level is a no-brainer. If people can communicate digitally without having to fly to other places, the carbon footprint all-but vanishes.
Clearly, being green has also become an important marketing issue for the ICT vendors.
It’s a message that local datacentre outsourcing company Revera was also keen to push when it spoke to Computerworld about its new R3 platform, which introduces a new cooling approach that saves on power and, with high-density computing, begins to deliver IT as a utility.