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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume VII, Issue 6||June 2004|
By Mary N. Cloutier
3/17/04 Governor Baldacci signed an executive order, which requires, in part:
"By July 1, 2004 the Department of Administrative and Financial Services shall develop information describing the availability and use of audio-, web- and video- conferencing equipment for state offices. Agency and department heads will encourage the use of technologies that reduce state employee vehicle miles traveled."
The Bureau of Information Services (BIS) has contracted with Premiere to provide audio and web conferencing services to all state agencies. Access for audio is .08 per minute per line, with no setup fee. Premiere also offers the opportunity to use toll-free numbers as well as direct dial, and web conferencing solutions to provide sharing of documentation, training classes, web seminars and presentations.
To better understand these services visit Premiere’s web site, http://premconf.com/us, where you can watch a demo video which describes how to use both the audio and web services.
I recently conducted a brief survey of State personnel who have used Premiere’s services this spring. All have found it convenient and easy to use. Here are a few of their comments …
Jen Chisum, Maine Department of Transportation (DOT)
We had a conference call with MaineDOT management and a team of consultants in Britain, New York City, Virginia, and Florida to conduct system stress testing with MaineDOT staff throughout the State - 7 divisions and 2 Augusta locations.
On a set schedule, pools of up to 40 people potentially (depending on availability) phoned in simultaneously and were walked through a series of tests of new software. If anything went wrong, or performance was bad, they could speak up. At that point one of our roving Desktop Support technicians would be sent to that person, while our Network person could do diagnosis work at the server while connected to the call. This was an extremely difficult kind of test to perform before conference calling…we usually used one floor and yelled!
Stacy Hyde, Caribou office of the Department of the Attorney General
We've used Premier Conferencing approximately five times for various conference calls with the judge and also once for an entire case management conference with a judge in a court several hours away.
I believe that the conference calls have saved not only our agency time and money, but have also saved money for the courts and private attorneys as well. The attorneys (and the judge in one instance) that have taken part in the conference calls or case management conference did not have to travel to/from court for the conference. Most of the attorneys that we deal with are court appointed and are paid by the court/state.
Scott Rollins, Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC)
We use the audio and/or web conferencing on a weekly basis for regular staff meetings of the LURC Permitting and Compliance Division. These meetings run typically two hours, and consist of discussions on individual projects, rule interpretation, training, and any other issues that need attention.
This service is extremely beneficial to our Division since only I and a Supervisor are located in Augusta, while the rest of the staff is located in regional offices throughout the State (Rangeley, Greenville, East Millinocket, Cherryfield, and Ashland). A regular face-to-face weekly meeting would not only create many additional vehicle miles traveled, but also be very inefficient since the rest of the day would be spent by staff traveling as opposed to being at their workstation prior to, and after, the conference. If it were not for the audio and web conferencing we just could not be meeting as regularly to discuss our issues.
Depending on what we have to discuss, we may use the audio portion only or use the total package including web conferencing. The web conferencing has proven very valuable when a staff member has a question regarding a site plan. With the web conferencing tools, all of the staff can review and annotate or make comments on the plan while we are discussing possible scenarios. This is extremely beneficial, especially to our new employees, who need to understand and be consistent with our interpretations.
If we had done these meetings the old fashioned face-to-face way it would have cost us the following per meeting:
- Time: For our 12 staff we save a total combined amount of almost 40 hours of productive time in traveling both ways.
- Vehicle miles traveled: Even with full carpooling we save about 1000 miles of travel per meeting.
- The biggest savings is what we save for the public that we serve. Without the cost and time savings of the web and audio conferencing there is no way we could regularly meet and train our people while minimizing downtime.
Staff meetings, software troubleshooting, and judicial conferences are surely not the only uses for audio and web conferencing in Maine State government. Would your productivity be enhanced, by speaking to your remote colleagues while simultaneously reviewing documents via the web at your work station? Want to sign up your agency? Please go to http://inet.state.me.us/bis/services/index.html to review the information under the Communications heading. Many agencies already have an account administrator.
Don’t forget, reducing state employees’ miles traveled not only saves money – it also helps protect our precious environment, which is the goal of Governor Baldacci’s executive order.