Video conferencing helps US environment agency

Video conferencing solutions are often considered purely within a business context but the benefits of the technology aren’t just limited to the boardroom.

Whilst more exotic applications such as telemedicine or the recent trend for telesentencing – where defendants appear in court via video conference – are significantly different from their use in business, other groups have seen strong returns using it in a more conventional manner.

One such example is the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, responsible for wildlife preservation across 83,642 square miles of mountainous territory.

According to a report in ComputerWorld, for the past three years the department has used video conferencing facilities across seven dispersed locations to save biologists and wildlife officials the need to make car journeys that can be as long as eight hours for routine meetings.

“I’ve not heard people say the system is indispensable,” says Craig Potchter, CIO for the department. “But people do say ‘hey its really cool’ and ‘thanks for putting it in  – it saves me two days of travel’.”

The department’s video conferencing facilities consist of seven studios equipped with room-sized HD video displays, as well as about 10 smaller desktop systems. According to Potchter, some 50 different sessions take place on the system in any given month.

“It isn’t always productive to bring people in from around the state for a one or two hour meeting,” says Potchter, “Video conferencing is very beneficial where sharing of data and videos are needed. Standard audio calls just don’t work very well for that purpose.”