Emergency Management Agencies In Southwest Missouri Save Time And Money With Polycom Video Communications Network
Officials in 18-County Region Rely on Polycom Solutions and Infrastructure to Prepare for and Respond to Emergencies from Ice Storms to Terrorist Attacks
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., and PLEASANTON, Calif. - Armed with a video communications infrastructure from Polycom, Inc. [Nasdaq: PLCM], officials within an 18-county network of emergency management agencies in southwest Missouri are saving lives and property by determining the most effective response and recovery plans for any type of emergency—from an ice storm or flood to a terrorist attack.
Real-time collaboration between these counties before, during, and after a disaster can be a matter of life or death, so enhancing the quality and speed of collaboration is an ongoing priority for the emergency management agencies. That’s why officials in the region recently deployed Polycom telepresence and video collaboration solutions.
“Emergency response is a collaborative effort,” said Ty Davisson, training and exercise specialist for Missouri’s Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which coordinated the investment in Polycom solutions with funding from the Southwest Missouri Regional Homeland Security Oversight Committee (RHSOC). “Video conferencing enables multiple people, wherever they are, to come together on the same page. That’s crucial in a disaster.”
The video communications network extends across a region that includes Springfield, Missouri’s third largest city, as well as the popular Branson tourist area and several counties that share borders with Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. “RHSOC set out with the goal of equipping all counties at once,” said Ryan Nicholls, Springfield-Greene County OEM director. “There were 18 different counties to get up and running, working with each of their IT departments and firewalls. We were impressed with Polycom’s ability to deliver a complete end-to-end, cost-effective solution for the entire roll out. The service we received from Polycom was phenomenal.”
Agency offices are equipped with Polycom® HDX® 4000 personal telepresence and Polycom® HDX 9004 room telepresence solutions. For access to video communications from home or from the field, emergency workers use Polycom’s PC-based video software application. The Polycom® RMX® 2000 multipoint conference platform supports multi-party calls, and the Polycom® Converged Management Application™ (CMA™) 4000 solution centrally manages the entire video collaboration network.
“In the past,” said Nicholls, “a lot of meetings would be postponed, or would take months to schedule because of the time commitment required to attend.” For instance, an in-person meeting of representatives from throughout the region once required a round trip of up to four hours. With several representatives from each county in attendance, the impact on productivity was significant.
Now, meetings happen more easily, especially between agencies. “The video conferencing network ties us together seamlessly as one agency,” said Davisson. “You just step out of your office, have your meeting over video, step back in and you’re back to work. It’s saving us time and money.” And the ability to meet face to face over video makes for more productive meetings, he added.
To enable connections with outside organizations critical to its mission, the Springfield-Greene County OEM has implemented a Polycom® Video Border Proxy™ (VBP®) firewall traversal solution. And the Polycom® RSS™ 2000 solution provides on-demand recording, streaming, and archiving of captured video conferences and content.
For example, using the Polycom VBP firewall traversal solution, agencies can easily connect with FEMA, the Red Cross, and the National Weather Service over video. Not only does this enable improved collaboration locally, but it’s more convenient and efficient for these federal and national agencies to communicate with all counties in southwestern Missouri simultaneously, particularly in a time of crisis.
“Recently, FEMA held a four-state video conference for input on improving its recovery process. Because we have the video systems in place, we were able to participate and provide our feedback,” said Nicholls.
In addition, the agency’s mobile communications vehicle has been equipped with Polycom HD video systems that transmit a live feed directly to the emergency operations center from the vehicle’s 60-foot pan-tilt-zoom camera. “Whether we’re covering a disaster or an event, we now have real-time video footage of what is happening on the scene,” said Davisson.
With plans to broaden use of their network, the agencies intend to rely even more on Polycom and its Professional Services organization. “The service we received from Polycom was phenomenal,” said Davisson. “In the end, having all of the sites tied together has given us all the benefits we had hoped for.”
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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