Telepresence saved us millions: Australia

SYDNEY — Taxpayers and the the Australian government have both benefited from the rollout of a National Telepresence System (NTS) in 2009, with savings of AU$12 million in travel costs reported.

For one meeting connected to 12 different locations, the government estimated it saved AU$100,600 in costs relating to travel. It has also been able to reduce carbon emissions by not having officials travel to meetings in Canberra where the federal government meets.

The statements came in a joint news release issued by the government and service provider Cisco Systems Inc. First announced in February 2009 as a joint initiative between national phone company Telstra and Cisco, the network has been operating for 18 months. It uses the Telstra Next Internet Protocol (IP) network combined with Cisco’s Telepresence video conferencing technology.

The NTS includes 36 Telepresence sites connecting the seven state government offices, Prime Ministerial and Cabinet offices, Parliament House and the offices of Premiers and Chief Minister agencies in every state and territory to one secure, high definition video conferencing facility.

Ken Boal, Cisco Australia’s director of public sector, said in the statement that the NTS system was enabling more effective collaboration between officials. “The Government established the NTS to reduce the travel and consequent carbon emissions, fiscal costs and productivity losses associated with meetings of COAG officials, Ministerial Council officials and other intergovernmental-related interactions,” he said.

Cisco has also been targeting the education sector with its Telepresence system and in July signed a deal with Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet).

The deal has enabled AARNet to connect six participating universities locally and internationally, including, Monash and Swinburne University which are currently using the system, and Deakin University, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne University and University of Queensland which are in the midst of implementation.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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