At a Glance
- Empowered internal communications
- Effective video conferencing organizes meetings
- Efficient use of time and reduced travel
- Faster decisions made real-time
- Gained stronger cooperation with visual meetings
Oslo Fjord Alliance effective use of video conferencing empowers a small administration team to unite services of Norwegian Universities and colleges
Effective use of video conferencing by the Oslo Fjord Alliance unites Norwegian institutions of higher learning to make them more attractive for researchers and as a place of study for students.
In order to strengthen cooperation and to improve the distribution of resources and expertise, the universities forming the ‘Oslo Fjord Alliance’ decided to introduce video conferencing for their administration and research staff in 2009.
Jan Petter Thorstensen, IT Manager at Buskerud University College, is in charge of the project. Thorstensen kicked off the project by establishing video conferencing rooms at his own university, at the colleges in Østfold and Vestfold, and at the Norwegian University for Life Sciences.
The Oslo Fjord Alliance employs a total of 2300 people at its institutions and caters for 15,000 students across seven locations in the Oslo Fjord area.
Staff previously spent too much time planning and travelling to meetings which affected their other duties. A solution was therefore required to reduce travel time, improve efficiency and to increase opportunities for cooperation.
Thorstensen says they have many fields of research and relatively few academic staff. With the ability to cooperate via video conferencing, staff has been able to establish larger teams, making the institutions themselves more attractive as a workplace for researchers, and as a place of study for students.
In spring 2009, the institutions agreed to establish a video conference room at each campus within the Alliance.
Minimum support required
Thorstensen says that shares it took the universities very little time to install the equipment and put it to use.
“Almost all of the feedback we receive is positive, and although we rarely need to provide support we do have a service desk available in case of any questions or problems”, he adds.
The first systems were installed in April 2009, and by the end of the year the institutions had eight systems. The installation and commissioning phases both went smoothly.
With the current capacity and equipment, up to seven meeting rooms can take part in one video conference. The biggest challenge is being able to book all the meeting rooms with the video conferencing equipment at the same time.
“The equipment is in great demand”, Thorstensen explains.
In order to combat demand for dedicated meeting rooms for video conferencing, and to further increase efficiency and cooperation, Buskerud University College has also introduced and integrated a Microsoft Office Communications Server with the existing video conferencing systems.
“This allows staff to participate in video conferences directly from their PC at their own workspace”, says Thorstensen.
At just the touch of a button, a video conference call to an expert can be initiated to receive answers or comments on issues they have encountered.
“It all works very well. Participants can also share documents via an additional screen in the video conference room, and they can communicate via instant messaging or telephone”, says Thorstensen.
Easy installation and integration
It was easy to integrate the Microsoft Office Communication Server (OCS) with Polycom’s video conference room, Thorstensen explains.
“The user threshold is low too”, he adds. Norwegian universities and colleges are currently
considering whether to establish a larger combined system (MCU) where staff from the various institutions can meet in a joint video conference. If this happens, the Oslo Fjord Alliance will take part, says Thorstensen.
“Our employees spend less time travelling and have more time for each other. We have succeeded in bringing people closer together, regardless of the time or place. If we need to go to a meeting, it’s only minutes away”, says Thorstensen.
Thorstensen views the use of video conferencing as a topic that is particularly relevant in the public sector, where several offices are often involved in processes, meaning many people must also attend meetings.
“It can be difficult to get them to agree on a meeting time at a specific physical location. It is much quicker and easier using meeting rooms with video conferencing equipment”, he says.
The frequency of meetings has escalated, making them part of the daily work. Two to four meetings usually take place each day at Buskerud University College alone.
High-quality meeting tools
Thorstensen explains that, as a result of video conferencing, faculties have been strengthened across geographical locations, which in turn has increased the expertise available for teaching. In administration areas, increased use of video conferencing has led to faster decision making.
The Oslo Fjord Alliance has made significant savings thanks to the use of video conferencing, and this was not even its intention. “People now don’t travel if they don’t need to. And it has become easier to arrange meetings”, says Thorstensen.
“Video conferences are preferable to meetings in person. Our staff view this equipment as a highquality meeting tool”, he says.
“So what kind of feedback do you get?”
“We don’t get much feedback because it works so well. But the increasing level of use shows us that people like using the system. It means they don’t need to spend as much time planning”, he says.
To find out how Polycom solutions can help your organisation, visit us at www.Polycom.no or speak with a Polycom Account Representative.