NATO Armed with Polycom Telepresence for Global Collaboration
Telepresence helps NATO accelerate time to act through improved coordination with NATO liaison officers in operational theaters and enhanced multi-agency collaboration.
BRUSSELS, Belgium and PLEASANTON, Calif. - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) recently deployed immersive telepresence solutions from Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) to improve operational efficiency, interagency collaboration and enhance its ability to support out of area operations.
“Information flow is vital to fulfilling our goals and mandates, as well as maximizing the productivity and efficiency of personnel and ensuring the success of operations,” said Malcolm Green, Chief of the NATO C3 Agency’s Capabilities Area Team 9 (CAT 9), Networked Information Infrastructure Communication Services. “Polycom telepresence addresses these challenges by enabling our teams to collaborate more effectively over distances.”
Deployed in six international locations, the Polycom immersive telepresence solutions join an existing large deployment of Polycom video conferencing systems in use today at NATO headquarters and in outposts around the world. The standards-based systems also interoperate securely and seamlessly with video conferencing systems in use by NATO allied partners.
The technology is used daily for central command communications, emergency management, critical needs assessment, crisis communications, intra/interagency collaboration, workgroup collaboration and project management.
“(Video conferencing) has certainly shortened the fuse on NATO’s ability to act in this dynamic environment,” says Brigadier General Gyorgy Lehel, Director of Operations at the NATO Communications and Information Systems Services Agency (NCSA) in Mons, Belgium.
The technology is also helping NATO reduce its need for travel, thereby saving money and improving productivity. The geographic disparity among locations that made it difficult to bring teams together to manage program issues such as budget requirements and technical concerns has been virtually eliminated through the use of immersive telepresence. For example, NATO recently replaced a series of quarterly in-person meetings with telepresence, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $51,000, over 500 hours of travel time and 21,000 kg of carbon emissions for one quarterly session.
Telepresence also helps reduce health and safety risks to operational theatre personnel imposed by travelling, as well as the burden placed on the hosting agency’s resources with managing visitors.
The deployment of Polycom immersive telepresence solutions was a joint project between the NCSA and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), which is responsible for the seamless provision of unbiased scientific support and common funded acquisition of Consultation, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities. The collaborative effort marks the first permanent use of immersive telepresence technology within NATO.
Tasked with implementing technological solutions that will enable NATO to improve the efficiency of its operations, the NC3A initiated a project to provide Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMRs) to locations in Brussels, The Hague, ACT Norfolk, Virginia and the staffs at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). NC3A worked in close partnership with the NCSA, the operational support agency to NATO who fully supported the initiative and provided a system within their headquarters in Belgium.
After testing and evaluating internationally competitive solutions, NC3A chose the Polycom® Telepresence Experience™ (TPX™) 306M solution to create its collaborative and immersive network of VMRs. The VMRs are a part of an ongoing mission to expand the use of technology in order to serve the NATO Alliance. The entire VMR network currently runs over IP between The Hague, Brussels and SHAPE and more recently expanded to a sixth location in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Telepresence provides a natural and effective meeting environment that delivers a far superior collaboration experience over traditional conferencing,” said Green who led the acquisition for the Agency. “The Polycom telepresence systems also have an advantage for us because they interoperate with our existing video conferencing systems and the systems used by our allied partners.”
“Native interoperability with existing video conferencing systems was critical for NATO,” said Joseph Moeder, Deputy Director, NATO Operations, ManTech Global Services Corporation, a leading provider of technology and technical services solutions to federal government customers. “It ensures that when complex missions require a well-coordinated response among other government agencies and international organizations, NATO is able to connect and reach locations worldwide. In addition, NATO can maximize its previous investments in video conferencing technology throughout the Alliance.”
With life-size images and high-quality surround sound, the Polycom TPX 306M solutions allow participants to clearly see nuances in facial expressions and other non-verbal communications that lend to the feeling of being in the same room. In addition, each VMR was designed with the same paint, lighting and multipurpose, boardroom-style tables to further enhance the virtual “same room” meeting experience. The solutions include personal content monitors embedded within the table that allow users to easily share virtually any type of multimedia content as part of meeting, enhancing the interaction and facilitating teamwork.
When not being used for telepresence, the Polycom TPX systems support a multi-functional conference room, allowing users to maximize the utility of the room and leverage valuable office space for traditional meetings. The high-definition monitors can display content locally (from laptop, web conference, etc.) and the system can be used for high-quality audio conferencing.
NATO Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMR)
Polycom Government Security Center – Security, Standards and Interoperability
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on April 4, 1949. NATO provides a forum in which the United States, Canada and European countries can consult together on security issues of common concern and take joint action in addressing them.
The NATO C3 Agency’s mission is to enable NATO success through the comprehensive provision of unbiased Consultation, Command, Control, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities. In 2008, the Agency procured some 300 million Euro worth of leading-edge capabilities for the Alliance; over 70 000 NATO forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, as well as the Alliance’s top decision-makers, depend on systems capabilities delivered by the Agency.
“Connecting NATO!” This motto sums up the main task of the NATO Communication Information Systems Service Agency, its mission being to connect NATO headquarters and installations all over the world with telephone lines, computer networks and video teleconferences. NCSA is composed of a central headquarters collocated with SHAPE, Mons Belgium, ten NCSA Sectors that support their affiliated headquarters, two deployable NATO Signal Battalions and the NATO CIS School in Latina, Italy. Permanently stationed on four continents, with a civilian-military mixed staff of approximately 3.400 personnel from 22 nations it is today NATO’s largest agency.
About ManTech International Corporation
Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia with approximately 8,000 professionals, ManTech International Corporation is a leading provider of innovative technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs for the Intelligence Community; the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Justice; the Space Community; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and other U.S. federal government customers. ManTech’s expertise includes systems engineering, systems integration, software development services, enterprise architecture, cyber security, information assurance, intelligence operations and analysis support, network and critical infrastructure protection, information operations and information warfare support, information technology, communications integration, global logistics and supply chain management, and service oriented architectures. The company supports the advanced telecommunications systems that are used in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in other parts of the world; has developed a secure, collaborative communications system for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and builds and maintains secure databases that track terrorists. The company operates in the United States and 40 countries. In 2008, BusinessWeek magazine chose ManTech for its ’InfoTech 100’ listing representing the best performing tech companies in the world; Forbes.com named ManTech as one of the 400 Best Big Companies in the nation; and A-Space, a Web 2.0 enhanced collaboration tool that ManTech developed for the Intelligence Community was named one of the Top 50 Inventions of the Year by Time magazine. Also in 2008, GI Jobs magazine named ManTech a Top Ten Military Friendly Employer for the third year in a row. Additional information on ManTech can be found at www.mantech.com.
Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is the global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Visit www.polycom.com for more information and follow us on Twitter @AllAboutPolycom.
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