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Video collaboration can be game changing for Govt agencies

A pioneer in audio and video communications technology services, Polycom, is significantly collaborating with governments across the world to catalyze developmental processes and strength the public safety and emergency response mechanisms. In a an interview with Bureaucracy Today Alphonzo A Albright, Global Director, Government Industry Solutions, Polycom, talks about the efficiencies of Polycom’s services and their integration into Indian governance. Excerpts.

By Salma Rehman 

How do you integrate Polycom's services with Indian governance?
By means of introducing a Collaborative Government methodology. Government agencies are under a microscope. There are mounting internal and external pressures to improve performance in ways that administrations expect; merchant’s value and citizen’s appreciate.

The public in India needs a unified experience when accessing government information from anywhere—the web, in print, over the phone and through social media. When approached thoughtfully, video collaboration can lead to broader reach granting the regional and local governments an access to a number of services including healthcare, education or vocational training.

Further there are software for facilitating human resource services ranging from group interviews to virtual evaluations or even online disciplinary hearings which can ease the cost and complication of getting multiple busy people in the same room. For example CloudAxis Software enables the hiring of experts via browser‐based application ‐ who are not in geographical reach, but still become great “mobile” team players.

Via Polycom services, a well‐planned video communication platform, information can be carefully organized and easily shared through various electronic devices, leading to less double‐work. This sharing ultimately creates greater economies of scale, freeing internal resources to move on to the next challenge.

In addition to these benefits the video communication is an effective way to go green on many levels. It is an instant carbon‐emission fix for agencies that rely heavily on travel enabling employers to work from their home offices.

Polycom’s video collaboration thus can be game changing for government agencies which take advantage of a video platform, can improve productivity, leverage resources, and increase capacity without adding staff or other related costs. 

Please talk about the efficiencies of Polycom solutions for public safety and emergency services. 

In the last 30 years, the world has suffered several natural disasters and terrorist attacks which have led Government policy makers to implement major changes in legislation, policies, regulations and organizations for emergency management. 

This security industry is proactive now where government agencies are increasingly seeking partnerships with the private industry in a national effort to “prevent terrorist attacks around the world, reduce vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.

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In the wake of natural calamities, disruptions in civil supplies, outbreaks of diseases or under political or economic stability, governments call for more interagency cooperation to prevent civil unrest and combat threats of global terrorism. Such eventualities require prompt responses which could be delivered by Polycom’s UC HD solutions. These services are not only a way to achieve a more efficient and productive unified emergency response through unified collaboration but also reduce costs and minimize time consumption.

During such situations government officials can connect and collaborate with one another, face to face, from anywhere whether on-base or in the field and at any time through their training rooms, desktops, situation rooms, command and control centres, home offices, and a variety of ruggedized systems or mobile devices. Through highly visual immersive experiences and emergency responders they can quickly assess situations and ensure rapid and informed decision‐making for greater mission success. 

What are the issues that the governments might face during the implementation of Unified Communications and Collaboration solutions? 
Government will have no choice but to adjust their Information Technology governance structure to include personnel from operations, human resources, facilities management and security etc. This means having players on the IT team outside of the main background of IT ‐ leadership in place where decisions will be made and handed down to certain individuals, and those individuals should be prepared to handle their respective roles.

Please briefly expalin the products and services available for the Indian market

Polycom in India offers the entire portfolio of products that it has in the international market. From voice solutions for audio conferencing to different grades of video solutions to meet the specific needs of business and governance. Polycom besides solutions also offers enterprise grade service for high reliability and continuity of business processes. Polycom solutions are also available to customers through telecom service providers.

Do you plan to introduce any advanced solutions or upgrade new services? In this light what are your plans for expansion in the Indian arena?

Polycom periodically rolls out new products and services in line with technological advancement and the need of the customer. As mentioned the product portfolio is global and contemporary. In India, Polycom plans to expand its reach in 100 top cities through partners to cover every possible opportunity. The plan also includes working closely with the Central and State governments to expand our presence.

What trends have you noticed as far as the adoption of technology in Indian Governance is concerned?

Nothing starts without governance. A number of government agencies in India are positively and aggressively thinking ahead – far, far ahead. They have shared, the realization of today’s environment and according to them the risk is far greater. Looking at the recent events we can say that if only the government was thinking about the solution at any moment it could be too late. 

I have been an agency CIO, in New York City for four years. I can say that certain adjustments are being considered and made today. The Government agencies have plans in place ahead of a natural disaster, cyber attack, mass demonstrations, disruption to travel and global threats of terrorism. Budgets have been considered and research and spending are done wisely. 

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Keep in mind, when a crisis occurs, business continuity solution prices will go up. If you purchase in the time of crisis management, you will pay more. But make no mistake, governments are well aware that dollars and cents in IT can equate to loss of time and effort, stress and mental fatigue, stagnation of a business service, profit or loss and or diminished solution development.

Benefits of Polycom’s Collaborative Government Solutions
Increased access, equity, and quality of citizen and human services in urban and rural areas.
Improved emergency management in times of crisis, ensuring rapid response, recovery and reconstruction. 
Enhanced justice services, brought about by reducing security risks and caseloads while improving inmate services and re‐entry. 
Strengthened national security and defence through situational awareness. 
Reduced costs and carbon emissions, helping a government comply with budgetary and environmental mandates.
Product range of Polycom

The products and solutions include Network Infrastructure which includes the conferencing infrastructure, distributed media application, management applications, recording and streaming security, and remote access. Then there are UC Group Systems, which includes immersive telepresence, group video and group voice systems. And there are UC Personal Devices, which includes desktop video devices, desktop voice, and wireless local area network (LAN) products. 

Profile of Alfonzo Albright

An alumnus of John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Alphonzo has over 24 years of driving government performance. Prior to joining Polycom, Alphonzo worked in the areas of Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Corrections and Human Services in New York City Government. In his last role, Alphonzo served as Deputy Commissioner in the Office of Administration and Intelligence for the City of New York. His portfolio included serving in the title of CIO for 4 years, the Office of Information Technology, Human Resources, Fiscal Services, Contracts and Procurement, Facilities Management, Fleet Services and Management Analysis Planning and the Criminal Intelligence division. 

What is UCC?
As a concept, Unified Communication & Collaboration (UCC) combines various communication channels, web conferencing and social media into a single application, giving you a clear overview. The solution significantly simplifies collaboration and communication through the most effective services (whether it be voice, video, email , fax or chat or social collaboration platforms – conveniently via a single interface) connecting one across geographic boundaries in real-time, in teams, among partners and with customers.