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NATO Turns To Telepresence For Savings And Security

The alliance is using 'life size' video conferencing for communications and collaboration, project management, and emergency situations.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has deployed room-sized videoconferencing systems in six international locations in an effort to facilitate communications and reduce travel time and expense.

NATO recently used the telepresence systems from Polycom in lieu of what would have been an in-person meeting. It estimates that, in that one example, it avoided $51,000 in travel expenses and 500 hours of travel time using videoconferencing.

NATO deployed Polycom's Telepresence Experience 306M system in offices in Brussels, The Hague, Nolfolk, Va., and in three other locations. Each system includes three 60-inch flat panel screens, surround sound, and a conference table with six built-in monitors that let participants manage content during meetings.

NATO was already using desktop videoconferencing and smaller conference room video systems. The new "life size" systems will interoperate with those installed systems via the H.264 and H.323 video compression standards. The telepresence system deployment was jointly managed by NATO's C3 and Communication Information Systems Service agencies (NCSA).

The Polycom systems will be used for communications and collaboration, project management, and to deal with emergency situations. NATO expects the systems to result in efficiency and productivity gains; Polycom says telepresence can also lower NATO's exposure to health and safety risks associated with travel to certain areas where NATO operates.

Telepresence represents a growing percentage of Polycom's business within the U.S. government. Barry Morris, VP of sales for Polycom's federal operations, says telepresence systems have grown from 5% of Polycom's federal business in 2008 to 15% in 2009, and it's on track to be 20% or more of its federal sales in 2010.



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