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The nature of government is changing. The digital age has made it increasingly easier for constituents to engage with and interact with their government at all levels. This naturally means that government, be it local or federal, needs improved systems for communication. Increasingly, government organizations are relying on audio and video conferencing solutions as a regular part of their day-to-day operations.
The VideoConference Store is a leading provider of video and audio conferencing solutions to governments of all sizes. We carry the products and programs that make communicating easier than ever. Using the latest in conferencing technologies can ensure that your government, branch, or department can flourish and best achieve its goals. From hosting meetings to connecting with important individuals, to conducting interviews, a video conferencing system is becoming a vital part of the successful functioning of government.
As perhaps the largest service organization in every community, government positions attract those who have a desire to serve others. From local park employees to congress members, working in the government is a way for an individual to give back to their friends, family, and neighbors. Part of that service, of course, is communicating with your constituents and other government elements. This ensures that you are best serving everyone in your community.
Even 30 years ago, communication within and between government groups may have been fairly limited to phone calls and faxed documents. But the increased pace of daily life requires that government groups communicate more and more frequently, and about a wider variety of topics. Today, communication within the government is more important than ever, and embracing a video collaboration solution can aid your organization in meeting the demands of modern life.
In moments where trust in the government is waning, it is more important than ever to maintain and rebuild that trust. One of the most effective ways to do so is to create a culture of transparency within your branch or department. Creating an open government, one that regular shares non-classified information, improves that transparency and builds public trust. Ultimately, transparency builds trust because it holds those making decisions accountable for their actions. Constituents can better identify who’s making these decisions and why.
A video conferencing system is a great way to create better transparency. Some departments might use their system to regularly host public meetings online and invite residents, or stakeholders to hear about the latest motion or bill that has been signed.
Any role in government means that you are accountable for a variety of stakeholders, and those stakeholders are likely changing all of the time. They might include fellow employees, members of related departments, lawmakers, the general public, or anyone who relies on the government for benefits or aid. One of the most difficult challenges that government employees face is ensuring that representatives from all of these stakeholding groups are allowed to take part in the governing process.
Video conference systems, like those offered by Cisco, can create online town hall meeting spaces. Ultimately, a digital conference space may be more accessible than a traditional town hall meeting at an actual building. Stakeholding groups are varied, and may not always live near a seat of government. By hosting a meeting in person, and online, you can invite more people to this meeting. This allows them to feel like their voice is being heard and considered. When more stakeholders are invited to collaborate in a given process, they are more likely to support a decision that is made. This leads to a culture of consensus that is valuable for the larger government process and also helps to build that ever-valuable sense of transparency and trust.
Special interest groups play a prominent role in the functions of the government. Lobbyists may try to work closely with a government representative in order to sway public policy or opinion. Increasingly, public opinion of special interest groups has been soured. Governments need to keep these groups in mind but may want to distance themselves from these groups in order to maintain their public standing. Communicating with lobbyists via a teleconference system grants government employees the chance to include these lobbyists in open forums with other stakeholders. This continues to improve that sense of transparency between government and constituents.
Video conferencing technology is uniquely situated to help governments improve their communication abilities and reduce their operating costs all while increasing the services they can offer their citizens. The reasons that governments at every level are embracing video conferencing solutions are for the same reasons their private sector counterparts are. Governments are expected to make more and better decisions at an accelerated pace and expend fewer resources while doing it.
A 2012 study examined cost-saving actions that government agencies could take when it came to collaboration and communication. The study revealed that less than half of all federal government employees had access to teleconferencing equipment. A frustrating figure to say the least, especially when it was reported that 70 percent of employees would make use of these technologies if they were available to them.
Compromised communication networks are a near constant concern for governments at every level. Data breaches might be something as minor as a hacked email account, or they can be as large as the 2015 Office of Personnel Management database breach that resulted in 21.5 million personal records being stolen. To address these concerns, video conferencing equipment and software producers, like Cisco, have increased levels of security to their systems.
Increasingly, data encryption software and protocols are being included in conferencing platforms and networks. This keeps criminal elements from connecting to your conference without you knowing. Other security tools allow in-house IT departments to allow levels of access to various employees. Some may be allowed to access all the functions of a video conference systems, while others may be limited to a simple voice call. The IT team can also set up security measures like firewalls that prevent malware and spam from filtering into the network of the agency. Many IT professionals also prevent the video conference system from automatically answering any calls. This allows users the chance to weed out malicious calls from harmless ones.
Collaboration between government entities is important if the branch, agency, or department is to successfully fulfill its mission and serve its constituents. A video conference system is an effective and powerful way to collaborate and get more work done. Unlike impersonal emails, a video conference allows both parties to see each other. This means that nuanced body language and other visual cues are more clearly communicated.
The visual component alone makes a video conference a more effective way to meet than even a traditional phone call as those visual cues can help create a more detailed understanding of the issue at hand, the way it’s being discussed, and how both parties feel about the issue. Additionally, the visual environment of a video conference creates a more relaxed work experience, allowing for increased creativity. Many businesses find that even one video conference call achieves more than a dozen or more emails can.
With increasing pressure to get more accomplished in each work day, government agencies are always looking for ways to improve their operations and make them more efficient. It is estimated that approximately 35 percent of a middle-level employee’s time is spent in meetings. If this much time needs to be dedicated to meetings, these meetings should at least be efficient, orderly, and effective. The 2012 study suggests that federal employees can save nearly 3.5 hours a week by embracing video conferencing technology. This is because video conferencing technology has become extremely efficient and streamlined. It’s easier than ever to connect to other video conference systems and networks. Reducing commuting time between worksites, or even within the building itself allows employees more time to focus on more pressing projects.
For periods where some departments or fields are receiving less funding than they have in the past, a video conference system is a great way to keep costs down. For instance, an organization suddenly no longer has the funding to send all of its personnel to a regional or national level meeting, the organization may choose to teleconference some members in instead. This limits the strain placed on traveling budgets, while still offering employees the opportunities to take part in the collaborative experience of a meeting.
Similarly, using a video conference system is a better use of a government’s time. Rather than having people travel for hours or even days just to have a meeting is an inefficient use of that individual’s time and taxpayer resources. That same 2012 study estimates that nearly $5 billion can be saved on the federal travel budget if more employees used a video conferencing system rather than traveled to meetings.
All levels of government can benefit from the installation of a video conferencing system. The opportunities it affords a government, with its various branches, departments, and organizations are applicable to governments of any size, from the smallest towns in the Midwest to the largest meeting rooms on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Local governments are using video conferencing systems and platforms in order to better connect with their citizens. In Boston, they recently added a feature that allowed citizens to appear in small claims court via a video conferencing system. Citizens can now appeal parking violations and speeding tickets without having to take time out of their day to travel to the nearest courthouse. While this was no doubt a cost-saving measure, it also served as a way to make local government more accessible to citizens. Local governments can also do a better job of hosting meetings with their citizens by broadcasting the meetings through a video conferencing software. People can watch these streams through the internet and feel more connected to the decision making process.
At the state level, governments make use of video conferencing systems in a variety of ways. Communication between county, city, and state officials is made easier by limiting the need for representatives to travel to a specified location. In emergency situations, video conferencing can be used to coordinate relief efforts with recovery agencies, or to communicate important information to citizens. Face to face communication builds trust and confidence in state officials.
At the federal level, the need for video conferencing solutions is obvious. The military makes use of video conferencing to discuss strategies and protocols. Disaster relief agencies use video conferencing to communicate with relief efforts at field sites. Ambassadors across the globe can meet with politicians back in the United States with ease. With their improved security measures, and clear video and audio quality, video conferencing is becoming the preferred form of communication for meetings within the federal government.
If your government office is looking to incorporate a video conferencing system into its daily routine, you’ll want to make sure you’re finding the right one. When looking for a video conferencing system, look for the following features:
The system is simple to set up and access
Your choice of equipment should work with a variety of other video collaboration systems
Choose a modular system that allows for more cameras or microphones to be added if the need arises
The system should utilize proven technology
It should have the highest levels of security
The technology should be sourced from a federal SAM vendor and they should be able to provide a copy of their Capabilities Statement.
At The VideoConference Store, we’ve been working with governments at the local, state, and federal level for more than 18 years. In that time, we’ve helped them to set up video conferencing systems from top-quality manufacturers like Cisco, Polycom, and Logitech.
Cisco has proven to be one of the leading providers of video conferencing technologies to government offices all over the United States. With high-quality audio and video products, and secure, networks, Cisco is a natural choice for government offices and can be found in more than 7,151 national government agencies, 8,089 regional and local government agencies, and across 177 different countries.
Polycom offers innovative features like auto-frame and zoom and pairs them with crystal clear audio and video to create accessible and powerful video conferencing systems. The high-quality components and materials come with a surprisingly budget-friendly price, making them ideal for smaller government offices, or those in need of a new conferencing system quickly. Polycom offers a wide range of solutions for government agencies that are secure, reliable, and affordable.
Logitech is a prolific provider of video conferencing solutions and technologies, all designed to seamlessly integrate into existing platforms and computer networks. Beyond just video conferencing, Logitech can meet all of the technological needs of a government office with a wide variety of high-quality products.
Looking to incorporate a video conference solution into your government office, but not sure where to start? Don’t hesitate to connect with our specialists. We’re happy to offer insights into which system fits your needs and your budget. At The VideoConference Store, we’re dedicated to helping you find the perfect solution for your communication needs. Browse our line of products, or connect with us today.