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Conferencing Overview

State employees can often increase productivity and reduce costs by using remote conferencing methods to replace or supplement face to face meetings.

OIT Conferencing services

(Help selecting your best conferencing solution)

Effective communications through proper use of meetings are critical to any group activity. Historically, groups would meet in person and share documentation or demonstrations in the same room. Some participants traveled long distances at great expense. With the increase in travel costs and the advance of communications applications, face to face meetings are no longer the only option. Groups can meet effectively without having to leave their office or travel long distances.

Audio conferencing

Most of us are familiar with phone conferencing – using a speaker phone or specially designed ‘spider phone’ to conference a room full of people with participants from other locations. There are also many tools available to allow groups to share desktops for demonstration and learning or to share files across the internet for download. Virtual whiteboards work the same as if participants were in the same room sharing a whiteboard. Video communications has greatly improved in quality and cost allowing a variety of configurations from one to one video (like Skype for personal use), one to many (video broadcast over the web) , and many to many (video conferencing where multiple people can see and hear each other).

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has video and audio connections but no collaborative web tools for sharing documents or messaging. OIT has worked with agencies to develop specific video applications and conferencing equipment which are generally limited for use by the agencies who own them. Most of these systems require special hardware, wiring and configuration and are used for dedicated purposes such as hearings or interviews.  These systems are often referred to by their manufacturer name such as PolyCom or Tandberg. Some of these systems currently reside in DOT, DHHS, DOL, and Dept. of Corrections. These video conference rooms are usually used for specific agency based processes such as interviews, meetings, and client communications. These tools are managed by the host agency and supported by OIT. Some of these locations are not available to others while some may be available to other state agencies on a request basis. A comprehensive directory of fixed video conferencing locations is being developed and will be linked to these pages. 

Web Conferencing (with and without video)

OIT has worked to identify web conferencing options that will allow agencies to purchase as much or as little time or features in the applications as the agency might need. Cost for these options varies based on the functionality required and the services utilized.  Options include video, recording sessions for later use, and audio by VoIP or telephony.  We provide these services through competitively awarded enterprise agreements with selected vendors. These agreements provide lower costs to agencies and defined service level agreements with the vendors. We strongly recommend use of these vendors as we are unable to support agencies that use alternative vendors. Those alternative vendors may not comply with the State’s accessibility or security standards.

One simple solution, Juniper secure meeting; allows the user to schedule meetings, invite participants, share desktop or documents, communicate through a chat window and collaborative use of a whiteboard during sessions. The only cost for use of this solution is the audio conferencing line currently being billed at 2.7 cents per minute per meeting participant phones. Meetings with 3 or less participants can use Juniper and the internal phone system at no cost to the users.

As an example of other conferencing options that are fee based, Adobe connect allows an agency to ‘rent’ a virtual meeting room for an annual fee and share audio, video, and documents in a variety of formats including ‘many to many’ communications with breakout rooms for small group work. Sessions can be recorded and posted for others to view at a later date.  Tests and quizzes can be created, posted and the results tracked for purposes of training or certification. This service is surprisingly simple to learn and use. The cost for these services starts at approximately $550 per year (prorated for fiscal year) for a virtual classroom. Some training and tracking program modules are available for additional fees.  

Other options for conferencing exist; please use the choices below to select your options. You may contact the Customer Support Center to establish conferencing accounts; they will open a Footprints ticket and connect you with the appropriate resources in OIT. Contact the Customer Support Center by email or by calling 624-7700. If you are unsure of your needs or which services may be better for you, please consult your Technical Business Consultant (TBC) for assistance.  Some of the options listed have a PDF product sheet attached for your review.

Selecting the best conferencing solution

If you don't want or need help/guidance and just want to see the audio and web options available:

Web Conferencing

Audio Conferencing

Training, tips and hints, whitepapers

Conferencing Resources - Locations and contacts

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Page last modified: October 17, 2014