A political party and the Auckland District Law Society are among those trying out digital streaming video services as an affordable but effective medium to communicate with their chosen communities in a restricted proximity.
The unnamed political party is among prospective clients for streaming video services provided by Wellington’s Intergen as part of its web hosting services. The Auckland District Law Society is already trying out streaming media from Intergen to allow its members remote access to conferences.
The medium is more controllable as to cost and quality of service within a close community using an intranet or a metropolitan area network (Intergen and some of its clients are linked to Wellington’s Citylink MAN) than it would be over the broader internet, says Intergen managing director Tony Stewart.
The political prospect would expect to use the medium in rather less of a “closed community” than the Law Society; the public will undoubtedly be a target and the internet a channel. But Stewart thinks it unlikely that we will be subjected to intrusive online campaigning. Like the Law Society, it will be a matter of allowing voters and media, by choice, to participate in conferences and view preprepared material.
As the audience will be almost entirely in New Zealand, internet quality of service glitches are likely to prove less of a hindrance than if the videoconferencing were international, he says. With the expansion of broadband and DSL services, the audience for such dissemination will grow rapidly, Stewart suggests.
He declines to name the party, “but mark my words, by the next election, [all the parties will] be doing it”. Politicians have shown themselves very “switched on” to the potential of the web, he says.
Intergen and its previous incarnation under the Advantage Group have been offering hosting services since 1997. It is now offering a rented implementation of Microsoft’s Content Management Server (CMS).
Intergen has two copies of the 2002 .Net version of CMS on a pair of single-processor servers. Under a service-provider licence agreement with Microsoft, Intergen provides CMS services to its clients and back to Microsoft. Its first CMS 2002 customer, in October, was Microsoft’s own NZ Innovation Centre, which invites government departments to outline their business requirements and seek funding from Microsoft.
The rental scheme is beneficial to Microsoft in helping to ease customers into the use of CMS, says Stewart. If their business grows, they may then decide to buy their own licence.
A CMS licence is in the region of $100,000, and Stewart says it fills the gap between users’ own cheap, internally designed basic content management solutions and expensive top-end products like Vignette.