Time is money, and videoconferencing saves both
- By Richard W. Walker
- Jun 16, 2004
Why is videoconferencing becoming all the rage? It's mostly the money.
'Our agency is divided between Colorado and Washington, so it saves money to use videoconferencing,' said a senior communications and systems specialist for the Interior Department's National Business Center in Denver.
In a GCN telephone survey, 88 percent of IT managers we talked with said their agencies have set up videoconferencing systems. About half said they use videoconferencing to cut costs at a time when government budgets are tight.
'We save money on base lodging, hotel expenditures and gasoline,' said a Navy Recruiting Command system administrator in New Orleans.
'It saves the taxpayers money,' said a Federal Aviation Administration LAN administrator in Anchorage, Alaska.
In addition to helping reduce costs, videoconferencing means not having to be on the road.
'It saves a valuable resource called time,' said a General Services Administration IT manager in Washington.
'We can save on travel time and can still communicate,' added an Air Force IT specialist at the Pentagon.
Ninety-five percent of managers in the sample said their agencies have a dedicated videoconferencing room for virtual meetings. Only 30 percent were set up for desktop videoconferencing.
'We use it for regional meetings of department heads,' said a Veterans Affairs Department telecom specialist in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 'We have 10 hospital locations in the region.'
Some agencies that have videoconferencing systems don't only use them to conquer distance: 27 percent of managers conduct meetings within the same building or campus with electronic video.
More than three-quarters in the survey like videoconferencing because it provides more personal contact than phone or Web conferencing.
'Telephone conferencing was becoming inadequate,' said a systems coordinator for the Social Security Administration in Philadelphia. 'It's better to see the person.'
'It cuts travel time and costs and you can still have face-to-face meetings,' added a Navy computer specialist in San Diego.
But not all managers in the survey were gung-ho on video.
'It's better to travel,' said a National Weather Service IT specialist in Silver Spring, Md. 'I liked the old way of doing things.'