Archive for April, 2017

More connected and more efficient: The transformation value of Video Conferencing for Public Services

April 30th, 2017

This model story from UK demonstrated the transformational value of video conferencing for public services. Through a modernized video service, it has been possible to transform the UK Criminal Justice System by allowing the creation of strategic partnerships across Justice and the delivery of a brand-new service.

With over 400,000 users, 1000 operational processes and 100 IT systems,  the UK criminal justice System was afflicted by excessive complexity, high costs, slowness and  chronic lack of efficiency. Budget optimization considerations led the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, the body in charge of supporting criminal justice agencies in providing an improved service to the public, to conduct a survey in order to formulate a proposal to the government on the possible measures to take to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

The results of the survey were quite surprising. At root of the problem there was a lack of connection and coordination among the several offices and agencies that were involved in the delivery of the criminal service. The state of disconnection and lack of standardization of the existing video service network made the situation even worse.

The solution was the adoption and implementation of a single – and updated – video conferencing system.  This automatically led to a strong increase in connection and thus communication among the several actors involved in criminal justice. The final outcome was the formation of strategic partnerships across the Criminal justice system that made it possible to deliver a less expensive and more efficient service to the public.

Criminal Justice is just one of the public sectors that can largely profit from video conferencing. Healthcare, crisis management, national and local security, chambers of commerce, education: these are just some few areas where video conferencing has been applied with remarkable success in the last few years.

Despite the huge diversity of the services we mentioned above, the reason of the success of video conferencing is always the same, interconnection. Faster and cheaper communication among public officials leads immediately to an increase in efficiency and a decrease of costs. This is nothing surprising, if we reflect on the nature of labor-intense industry of public bodies. Therefore, the quality of human interactions and human communication is the real key-factor to monitor in the public sector.

Another point to consider is that today video conferencing has become safe, secure, easy-to-implement, and inexpensive. A server of R-HUB`s suite TurboMeeting http://www.rhubcom.com for example, costs less than 2000$ and allows conferences up to 3000 participants. Maintenance and upgrading are managed remotely, so that a devoted IT team is not necessary any longer.

In conclusion, video conferencing will play a key-role in redesigning and remodeling public services next years, owing to its capability to decrease costs while increasing communication and coordination and, consequently, efficiency.

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6 Little known ways to quickly Enhance the Public action through Online Conferencing

April 24th, 2017

Emergency and crisis management, budget optimization, internal efficiency optimization, local governance empowerment: these are the main areas where online conferencing has proved to be more helpful for both citizens and public administrators.

In 2012, the superintendent of a school district of a county in Pennsylvania had to fire one fifth of his workforce and close three schools because of a multimillion deficit. He was not alone: 500 other superintendents were forced to take similar measures in the same period. More in general, the public action at all levels has been heavily hit by the necessity of cutting down on budgets in the last few years.

This does not come as a surprise:  the necessity of implementing severe budget reductions is a long-term trend that has been constantly troubling governments all over the world since the beginning of this century. According to an estimation of Calculated Risk (http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/) , over 600.000 jobs were lost in the US administration for this reason during Obama’s presidency only.

How can the government get by during hard times? The solution is technology. And among the available technologies, online conferencing is the most promising, as it allows the administration to improve performances at lower costs.  Have a look at the bills to understand this point: today, a good conferencing server like one of R-HUB`s TurboMeeting suite (http://www.rhubcom.com) is available on the market for less than 2000$. A public servant, for much more.

How can online conferencing enhance the public action once put on the field? I have counted six main areas at least:

Emergency preparation:  Webinars are a great and inexpensive way to prepare and train citizens to a catastrophic event. This reduces damages, panic and havoc when the event comes along.

Distance work: Clerks are able to communicate with supervisors and chefs in just one click, with substantial reduction of time and money wastes.

Crisis management: Information can be shared in real time and at zero cost. Unities on the field are able to keep constant contact with the central command at any stages of the operations.

Training and distance learning. Especially education could really profit from online conferencing. In rural areas, pupils will stay comfortably home, as their classrooms become virtual and the need of physical buildings to host those decreases. Parents will save a lot of time and money, and superintendents as well.

Planning and collaboration: In traditional bureaucracy, most of the time is lost in internal communication and coordination. Virtual conferences speed up bureaucratic processes and greatly help teams to fulfil tasks, like taking budget decisions or working together on projects.

Local governance: For officials, the personal interaction with citizens becomes a real possibility through virtual conferences, while access to officials is much easier for citizens. In this way, administrators can hear the citizens’ voice, set their actions consequently and build trust.

In conclusion, municipalities, local and state government can profit from virtual conferencing in several ways.  The benefits are also for citizens: they will enjoy a greater ease of access to public officers and services, while costs to bear will be fewer and, consequently, the amount of taxes to pay less.

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Why Video Conferencing is going to disrupt Public Service Delivery?

April 18th, 2017

Faster decisions, greater efficiency, lower cost and big time savings: these are just some few benefits of the utilization of video conferencing in public service delivery.

In 2013, the first video conference of local government officials was ushered In Rwanda: over thirty participants were able to interact with the Minister for Local Government through high resolution monitors and address a large set of issues concerning local governance. This is just one of the benefits that Rwanda had from the fiber optic network that had been rolled out throughout the country in the past years.

Like most modern states, Rwanda is afflicted by chronic lack of staff because of budget limitations and, before video conferencing introduction,public officials had to spend a lot of time by travelling from remote places to the capital to attend important meetings that were vital to coordinate the public action.

Consider that joining a distant meeting in a country where roads are in bad conditions takes not only money, but a lot of time. The result was that the government was blocked in a deadlock loop: taking care of locals would have implied to give up on spending time in meetings in order to give public officers the necessary time to manage the delivery of public services. But this would have caused a serious lack of coordination of the governmental action at any level; on the other hand, maintaining effective central coordination would have affected the efficacy of the public action at local level, as it would have drained important human resources to the necessary meetings in the capital.

The classical way-out would have been hiring new local staff; but this solution was precluded by budget constraints.

Video conferencing solved the problem brilliantly. Today, local officers do not need to spend days to travel to the capital for their meetings any more. Rounds of virtual conferences assure the necessary coordination of the governmental action at any level, and the amount of time that is saved in this way can be more profitably employed to help locals. But the most interesting aspect of this innovative solution is that no new staff has been necessary; in other words, through video conferencing Rwanda has been able to optimize the workforce, while respecting budget constraints.

Rwanda’s story tells us how much disruptively video conferencing can impact the delivery of public services. If a little African country was able to change the management procedures so deeply, what could happen in western states (for example, in Europe), where video conferencing is still almost unknown in public offices? Another point is that this technology is not only about saving time and money. In the future, video conferencing could deeply affect many public services and facilities, like healthcare and hospitals, especially when it will be integrated with the virtual and augmented reality.

Cost considerations won’t stop these silent revolutions. Today, the price of an on premise web server ( the type of technology that suits the public service needs best), for example one of R-HUB`s (http://www.rhubcom.com) suite TurboMeeting , starts from 995$ only. Consider that a cheap car costs in Italy at least 10,000 $. Another way to say that video conferencing technology has become within everyone’s reach.

In conclusion, video conferencing will certainly disrupt the public service next years, as this technology offer a good solution to many managerial problems that vary from human resource optimization to the need to respect budget constraints. The necessary technology is already available, and at an inexpensive price.

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How can I successfully manage my First Remote Team?

April 17th, 2017

Follow these five ultimate tips to lead your remote team to success.

Video conferencing products like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) and Cisco’s WebEx have made real the dream of many managers to have their own remote team. But never is it easy, when the moment comes to go for reality. Especially the first time, it is important to avoid improvisation and have a basic scheme to comply with. These five tips will help you to develop a strategy to deal with your first remote team management experience.

  1. Assume a “remote first” mentality. The usual situation is to have a distributed team and not a remote team, which means that some workers are remote; some other workers are in the office. As the name suggests, “remote first” means that virtual meetings should be your default choice, in order to avoid creating discriminations between remote workers and in-office workers. Remember that the feeling of being missed out is one of the dark aspects of remote working, and it can cause disaffection and disengagement.
  2. Facetime meeting is king. Facetime meetings have great relevance in remote team management, as they are the unique occasions to foster the sense of belonging to the organization in your remote collaborators and coordinate your team. As a rule of thumb, remote teams need many more meetings than ordinary teams, at least three times a week. The good news is that video conferencing products offer managers great tool sets to engage the audience, at the point that today running a virtual meeting gives more opportunities in terms of content sharing and information exchanges than the classical gathering in the boss office.
  3. Avoid asymmetry in handling information. Remote workers have the right to have the same amount of information of in-office workers. So, it is important to convey the flow of information to your team as a whole. This can be achieved in several ways. For example, you can use a Google sheet which every team member may access and where every progress is monitored and deadlines are clearly set.
  4. Take particular care of communication. Distance makes communication more difficult and less immediate. Being in tune with distant workers is harder, as it lacks the immediacy and spontaneity of the meetings in the real world. So, it is important to keep in touch constantly with remote collaborators. Use Skype, or similar chats.
  5. Use specific platforms. Remember that there are several services, like Trello and Google Drive that are specifically designed to help you to manage your remote team. They offer a huge set of valued resources, like shared sheets and docs, progress tracking, text chats. Similar tools are also available on top-class videoconferencing services, like the above mentioned TurboMeeting.

Conclusion:  Keep in mind that managing a remote team presents different set of challenges from managing traditional teams. Persistent communication and specific video conferencing products will be of great help in order to address problems and lead your remote team to success.

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Six Top Quality VoIP Video Conferencing Tools that rock the Market

April 9th, 2017

VoIP (Voice over IP) is the technology that has won over the competition in video conferencing, as it  allows providers to assure their clients fast and inexpensive high quality services.What VoIP video conferencing service provider to choose among the dozens that are present on the market today?  Let’s have a quick glance at some of the best.

The strength of VoIP is that this technology achieves what it promises: inexpensive and spontaneous face-to-face meetings via computer screens. The prerequisites are only owning a web-camera (laptop has usually one in-built cam) and having enough bandwidth.

Among video conferencing products, some stand out because of their interesting features, easiness of use, and price effectiveness. Here comes my list.

R-HUB TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) is a suite of virtual conferencing servers that are able to provide clients with a wide range of services that go from telepresence and HD Video conferencing to the traditional conference calls, including remote support and remote access.  The remarkable features of TurboMeeting servers are security (thanks to the adoption of a technology based on on-premise servers) and ease of use, as they are real plug-and-play devices that once plugged in start working immediately. The traditional issues connected with on-premise servers (needs of IT team and dedicated cabinets/rooms) have been all brilliantly addressed by R-HUB development team who has been successful in crafting a compact, inexpensive and an all-in-one solution that covers all aspects of virtual conferencing application.

Skype is probably the most popular software for video conferencing available on the market today. The strong points are voice and video quality that combined with free service make Skype unbeaten in the segment of one-on-one conferencing.  Problems rise when it is time to move to conferences with multiple participants. At that point, you’d better consider an alternative to Skype. If you desire to still stay on the ground of free conferencing apps, you could consider  Oovoo, a service that allows conferences up to six participants and has the intriguing feature of communicating though video mails. In comparison with Skype, outages are less frequent, as Oovoo runs its own servers.

Hosted applications do not require clients to download and install any software, which is a great advantage especially when using mobiles.  They are also easy-to-access and easy-to-use, not to mention that they can be easily integrated with most operative systems. These are the reasons why they are increasingly popular. Among hosted solutions for video conferencing, we find WebEx Meeting Center and SightSpeed. Both offer many useful and interactive tools to involve participants (like file sharing). Naturally, quality does not come for free. It is necessary to pay a monthly fee to use these services.

Last but not least, we have two top quality solutions, Adobe Acrobat Connect and AT&T Connect. The first is a powerful web conferencing service that supports conferences up to 2500 participants; the latter is a high flexible and versatile product that hosts conferences with an unlimited number of participants. Unfortunately they are both quite expensive, especially when compared with free software, which makes them unsuitable for small organizations.

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