Archive for May, 2017

Three great Video Conferencing solutions with Screen Sharing

May 16th, 2017

Screen sharing is one of the way through which experienced speakers engage their audience. Unfortunately, this precious tool is not available on every web conferencing product. Let’s discover some of the video conferencing solutions that have implemented this important function.

My first webinar was really challenging, as I had to fight against an irresistible need to avert my eyes from the screen. My problem was not paying attention to the speaker, but what cognitive psychologists and doctors define as fatigue from screen. Staying watching your desktop without any interaction is much more stressing than working at it. Crafty speakers know this problem, and this is the reason why they try to engage their audience in several ways that range from asking questions to sharing screens. The result is that not only participants get more involved, but they also remind easier the contents they listened to.

So, it is important to have a web conferencing tool at hand that offers a wide set of functionalities purposely designed to engage your audience. But what to choose among the plethora of products on the market? In my opinion, three solutions are really unbeatable.  Here they are:

R-HUB`s TurboMeeting servers (http://www.rhubcom.com) .This solution is the golden mean between top quality – but expensive – products like Cisco’s and popular apps as Skype. It offers all the reliability and safety of on-premise server based solutions without its typical flaws. So, no needs of devoted IT team, as R-HUB`s machine are self-installing and self-updating, and server cabinets (R-HUB`s servers are so small and silent that can be placed on your desk or on the shelf of a bookcase). The number of functionalities that its GUI offers is quite big and it is included polling, raise-hand, file sharing, and, naturally, screen sharing. No question, you will be certainly able to have highly interactive virtual meetings though this product.

Price is affordable, as you can bring home your TurboMeeting server with $995 only.

Cisco WebEx: Many years of the experience of this giant of the IT sector are embodied in it. Web Ex is available in every form you wish, as Cisco can give you its solution as an ordinary desktop application. This makes WebEx highly flexible and able to serve indifferently both multinationals and small businesses. Its features are quite rich, and users are supplied with every necessary functionality to engage their audience.

In comparison with TurboMeeting, WebEx looks more flexible, as you can opt for a version without hardware. However, it is more expensive and its app version is less powerful: TurboMeeting allows you to give virtual meetings up to 3000 participants, WebEx up to 2000 only.

TeamViewer: it is another popular top-quality product that is considered by many experts the direct competitor of WebEx. It offers some unique features like the possibility of running multiple sessions at once and the ability to leave quick notes for your clients. Less expensive than Cisco thanks to its policy of pay-only-one-time license, however its power limits to 300 participants per conference. An important detail is that TeamViewer does not include teleconference, a feature that is present in TurboMeeting.

In conclusion, it is difficult to say what the best among these three products is. R-HUB`s servers are inexpensive and powerful, but you have to bring home some hardware; WebEx and TeamViewer allow you to avoid hardware, but they are more expensive and less powerful than TurboMeeting. Therefore, you’d better focus on your real needs before taking a decision.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

How to Jump from the stone ages to the future through Video Conferencing

May 3rd, 2017

The wise use of IT technologies like video conferencing will allow India to deliver basic services to the population of over 600.000 remote rural villages in the next future.

In India, 75% of the population lives in rural villages and 95% do not speak English but local languages that sometimes are as different from each other as English and Chinese. Despite the fact that the Indian road network is the second largest in the world, its poor state makes communications between villages and towns difficult. Rural roads are generally made of clay, narrow and potholed. Therefore, they are unable to assure travelers proper travelling conditions especially during the season of monsoon, when they turn into impassable rivers of mud. The lack of good connections with the urban areas and the rest of the country is probably the main reason why rural Indian is still isolated and lost in its ancestral traditions.

Governance in such conditions can become an extremely tough exercise.  Consider, for example, the problem to deliver elementary education to each of the 317 million children living in rural India in 2008: it means to be able to take books, professors and schools in communities that sometimes still live in the jungle in the same conditions of the stone ages. Ensuring proper levels of services as tax collection, vital recording, healthcare and infectious diseases prevention are the other hot issue that the Indian government has been trying to address since the day of the independence.

The traditional approach should be to take roads to villages. Undoubtedly, the investment of the government on the road network has been massive: the Indian towns are now all connected through national highways that have reached 100.000 km of extension, and the value of the infrastructure industry was estimated  over 19 billion US$ in 2016.

However, IT technology in general and virtual conferencing in particular, has been proved to be able to provide India with a faster and more inexpensive solution. Digital roads cost less and are quicker to implement than traditional roads, and devices as mobiles and tablets can be connected also via wireless and satellite bandwidth.  Product like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com)  servers allows local communities to have easily and inexpensively communication networks through which it is possible to take to citizens some basic services as education and meetings with a distant public officer. Smartphones are decisively less expensive than a car, so that the cost of e-governance is decisively less burdensome than the traditional approach to take police stations, schools and post offices everywhere.

The considerations above well explain why the Indian government has recently invested a lot in IT infrastructures. Nationwide connectivity has now reached more than 600.000 villages: 670.000 km of fiber has been deployed  across the country, and the program Village Resource Centre program has mobilized ISRO’s satellite technology.

The outcomes of this effort have been a fast increase in e-governance programs of Indian states. In Karnataka, the Land Register was able to take back land registration from local notables through a project called Bhoomi, the core of which is an application in visual basic. In Punjab, it has been implemented a gateway to deliver over 120 public services through the net . In Kolkata, over 300 police local stations are now connected with their command through WAN. In this way, an important task as criminal tracking has been enhanced.

But one of the most remarkable examples of how IT technology has helped India is at the level of the central government and the judiciary system. In a country as large as Europe, video conferencing is the only way to assure fast and reliable one-on-one meetings to politicians, high officers and judges in most occasions. On the other hand, the new way to meet has become quickly viral to the whole Indian state apparatus through a classical top-to-bottom process; at the point that now video conferencing has become a daily tool also for local government. Delveer Bhandari, chief justice of Mumbai High Court, stated in an interview that video conferencing is regularly used among the judges of the court.  In Maharashtra, a good share of the communication between the central government and districts has shifted to video conferencing.

India is an interesting example of how IT technology in general, and video conferencing in particular, can offer great solutions to address problems that are considered to be of difficult, not to say impossible, solution. Even if it is tough to foresee the way the technological development will take of next years, India shows that this much is true, e-governance will play a more and more important role in assuring citizens adequate public services.

In conclusion, examples like India’s e-governance programs are very interesting to study, as they show us how technology could disrupt also the western bureaucracies and the way the western governments deliver public services to their citizens in the near future.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

From Third World to World Class – Through Virtual Conferencing

May 2nd, 2017

How new technologies in general,  and video conferencing in particular, can address many traditional problems of third world countries in less than no time.

There are some basilar services that are taken  for granted in the US  or western Europe,  but that are often missing in a town ofthe third world, like uninterrupted electricity or water supplies. In Nepal, for example, people are extremely pleased when they get continual electricity supplies for eight hours a day. In most African countries, the fulfillment of a simple task as going to the post office can be extremely challenging and time-demanding due to the poor state of roads. In the Philippines, the state of toilets in public schools is so poor that students meet great difficulties in doing their business in the bathroom.

However, the situation of public services has been slowly improving even in the poorest areas of the world thanks to technology in the last few years. The combination of mobiles, mobile apps and virtual conferencing has proved to be a great strategy to tackle many problems connected to distance, bad transportation and lack of a proper network to dispatch electricity. In this way, implementing good levels of governance become possible even in the worst possible conditions.

A smart example of the results that a wise use of technology allows government to obtain is given by mSurvey, a program launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo to improve democracy and participation. Being 65 % covered by rainforests, this African country has the typical problem of difficult transportation that makes travelling and consulting people extremely difficult. The solution has been to develop a mobile app though which citizens can obtain information about budget meetings. In this way, they can vote online and check what was decided simply by using their mobiles. They can also remind local authorities of their commitments and press them to take actions to fulfill people’s needs.

The success of MSurvey is not surprising. In many areas of the third world, it is easier to make a mobile work than continual electric light or water supply. On the other hand, a virtual conferencing product like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) allows a charity or a municipality to implement a local consultation system with the population safely and inexpensively. Being plug and play devices, the servers of the TurboMeeting suite do not need a devoted IT team; they are compatible with the existing main operating system for mobiles, and their graphic interface is optimized for small screens.

In Brazil, the State of Rio Grande do Sul has gone even further. Through the joint use of their mobiles and video conferencing, citizens can actively co-design solutions to address specific problems of their town or village. The “Governor asks” initiative has allowed more than 60.000 people to submit proposals and feedbacks and even face-to-face meetings with politicians and state officials.

In Kerala, a program called Akshaya makes it easy for citizens to obtain elementary services or documents like their driving license through their mobiles. In Bolivia, Nepal, Ghana and Zambia on Track enables students to report teachers that do not show up for class through a text message.  This mobile app has been developed with the aid of the World Bank with the purpose is to improve public services through a bigger citizen involvement.

What is the secret of this new success of virtual conferencing? In my opinion, the reasons are three: the easiness of implementation, the inexpensiveness, and the use of a common device like the mobile to vehiculate it. While it is difficult for many people to access to facilities like proper housing, mobiles are really at everybody’s reach. And implementing a system of consultation through video conferencing is certainly easier, quicker and cheaper than building roads, bridges and infrastructures.

These are only some few examples of how technology in general, and video conferencing in particular, can be used to improve people’s life. If you wish to learn more about this topic, you are going to find more resources on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

  • Share/Save/Bookmark