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Videoconferencing. An alternative to face-to-face meetings Scott McPherson CIO, Florida House of Representatives. Key Purposes of videoconferencing in Florida government. Reduce travel costs Facilitate more productive use of decision-maker time

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An alternative to face-to-face meetings

Scott McPherson

CIO, Florida House of Representatives

key purposes of videoconferencing in florida government
Key Purposes of videoconferencing in Florida government
  • Reduce travel costs
  • Facilitate more productive use of decision-maker time
  • Allow for more frequent visual meetings with distanced staff
  • Facilitate strategic objectives such as:
    • Employee training
    • “Onboarding”
    • Distance learning
  • Disaster recovery/pandemic plan implementation (social distancing)
current state situation
Current State situation
  • OSCA is considered a (national) best practice for government videoconferencing
    • Pre-trial hearings
    • Meetings with circuits (Supreme Court)
  • Department of Corrections has videoconferencing capability at roughly twenty facilities, including Central Office and prisons/reception centers
    • Federal hearings (2006)
    • Distance Learning
    • Meetings between Secretary and regional directors
    • Utilized during emergencies, disasters
  • DMS has video capability, but is leaving the market
  • Attorney General (Butterworth) had weekly videoconferencing with regions, unknown if it continues today
  • Fish and Wildlife also uses videoconferencing
potential uses by house of representatives
Potential uses by House of Representatives
  • Legislator “virtual” attendance at committee meetings, public hearings
  • Citizen testimony that does not require travel to Tallahassee
  • Consultations between legislators and staff (subject to public record)
  • Consultations among legislators (subject to public record)
  • Meeting in a “socially distanced” way during events such as terrorist-related shutdown of Capitol, or due to travel restrictions caused by an influenza pandemic
house requirements
House requirements
  • Desktop videoconferencing at district office level
  • Council/committee meeting room accessibility
  • Clear video, free of “pixelization,” artifacting, or drop-outs
  • Well-miked audio, clear and free of ambient noise
  • As close to broadcast quality (30 fps) as is possible
technology makes videoconferencing more affordable
Technology makes videoconferencing more affordable
  • Satellite-based videoconferencing is still used, but is older technology and is quite expensive
  • “IP-based” videoconferencing is newer, more pervasive and is where the research and development dollars are going.
  • IP-based videoconferencing can also now be done in Hi-Def.
  • In mid-2007, at the request of Jill Chamberlain, House IT undertook an analysis of State videoconferencing capabilities to see if a “bridge” existed that the House could “glom onto” expressly for citizen testimony.
  • Neither the State University System, nor the State Community College System, has a video “bridge” that we could point our IP-based videoconferencing equipment toward.
  • Therefore, the House will need to create its own “bridge” that others could point their devices toward.
  • The House is considering the installation of a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone system. This can carry a video signal, or a camera and microphone can be placed on the top of a legislator’s laptop.
  • Hypothetically, a legislator could be at a Starbucks in Milwaukee and participate in a House committee meeting via videoconference.
  • Legislative district offices would need additional bandwidth, and the House and Capitol would also require additional bandwidth. This is a recurring cost.
  • Committee rooms –either a few, a lot, or all of them – would need to be retrofitted to accommodate videoconferencing.
  • This would require additional cameras, newer digital presentation and switching equipment, better lighting, and additional projectors, screens and/or large-screen monitors (LED/LCD/plasma).
  • One alternative is to see if the Florida Channel video feed might be a suitable partner for this exercise. This would also allow for standard television broadcasting and Webcasting of more House committee meetings.
  • Videoconferencing would also be subject to Florida public records law when applicable. Distanced meetings would have to be noticed and press access granted, either virtually or in person.
  • To better enable distanced legislators to view material being presented for discussion, the House should also consider “Web conferencing” as an adjunct to videoconferencing. In that way, Powerpoint presentations could be viewed simultaneously with streaming video. The Web conferences could be archived and downloaded, the same way the House is now making Podcasts of council and committee audio available for downloading.
projected costs
Projected Costs
  • A very rough swag at costs would place this project in the 7-figure category. This would account for some 120+ member cameras; retrofitting of all committee meeting rooms; the construction of a video bridge; the installation of more bandwidth in Member district offices; the installation of more bandwidth in the House offices; and the addition and/or training of qualified personnel to manage the new audio/video equipment.
  • Reduced travel costs/ “greener” meetings
  • Better utilization of legislator time
  • Golden opportunity for citizens to be heard without the cost and inconvenience of traveling to Tallahassee
  • ROI can also be extended to existing conventional resources such as television and the Web-based broadcast of committee video
  • Better security and greater survivability in the event of a terrorist attack or pandemic
  • More opportunities for legislators to be successful at their “day jobs”
innovation telepresence
Proprietary to Cisco

As seen on Fox’s “24”

Identical meeting rooms allows for the appearance that all participants are in the room

Very limited deployment (and expensive by today’s standards)

Innovation - Telepresence
the future of videoconferencing
The future of videoconferencing


Thank you.