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Balancing flexibility, scalability, and security for government spaces

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5 key take-aways from our webinar with Inavate APAC on November 25th

On November 25th, Televic co-hosted a webinar with Inavate APAC, the information website and magazine for for specifiers, installers, and users of audio visual and related technologies in professional environments. The topic at hand: balancing flexibility, scalability, and security for government spaces.

For this occasion, Televic Conference’s product manager Didier Rosez formed an expert speaker panel with Mr. Thaweesak Thamsirisup, managing director of Thailand’s leading AV system integrator Vichai Trading, and Gavin Bunn, senior account manager at Pro AV Solutions in Australia. The webinar was facilitated and broadcasted by Inavate from their home base, Singapore.

Zooming in on the major trends and changes that are going on in government meeting and conferencing spaces, these were the 5 most important take-aways from the webinar.

1. The pandemic has rapidly changed the requirements for government meeting spaces

From their hands-on market experience, the panelists agree that the past year has shown a rapid change in what governments – ranging from national parliaments to regional and municipal councils – want and need in terms of their meeting space infrastructure.

A first driver for change was the need to facilitate social distancing between physical participants in the council room. People sitting farther away from each other and/or being separated by plexiglass walls had an impact on the eligibility of the discussion. This increased the need for high-quality, personal audio solutions for each participant. Also, moving the council meetings to larger venues increased the demand for flexible, portable, and wireless conferencing solutions.

A second stage in the evolution was marked by the time when in-person meetings needed to be replaced with online video calls. While known platforms such as Teams and Zoom offered the ability for people to talk remotely, they did not incorporate readymade answers to issues such as voting, agenda management, etc.

A third shift came when the pandemic eased and councils reconvened for physical meetings, but not all participants could be present due to circumstances such as quarantines, and the public was not yet allowed to attend the meetings yet. This created the need to accommodate so-called hybrid meeting experiences, where some participants are in the room and others join in digitally. Additionally, the legislation concerning transparency and freedom of information have steered governments and councils towards professional-grade transcription, recording and streaming functionalities built into their conferencing system.

All of the above have increased the awareness among governments and councils of the added value that is offered by system integration providers, as opposed to the ‘old’ way of working with different suppliers and service for individual parts of the meeting room lay-out.

2. At least part of the changes is here to stay

While a lot of credit is due to public administrations for adapting so quickly to these new circumstances, the question automatically pops up what will happen when the pandemic finally eases or passes. The speakers agree that at least part of the adopted changes will remain in place even when – and let’s hope this happens soon – the pandemic is a distant memory.

Remote access to a meeting will no longer be denied just for the sake of it, but will be accepted and facilitated for various reasons (pregnancy, maternity, leave, …). It will also be used to invite external experts or speakers into the meeting without the need for these people to physically travel to the council space.

Also, now the unexpected has happened (no one saw this pandemic coming), governments want to be ready for similar situations in the future. We already see that new council space projects are either equipped with hybrid conferencing systems from the start, or they are built to accommodate less people in larger rooms, including the appropriate audio solutions.

3. The willingness to adapt is there

Whereas governments and public institutions are often seen as reluctant to change, the picture we see today is entirely different. Maybe this is one thing we must thank the pandemic for. Government officials across the world have made a mental shift to embrace the changes that were needed to deal with the new reality. This willingness to adapt may settle down into a slower pace after the pandemic, but the seed has been planted and will undoubtedly continue to grow.

4. Security is a concern, but not an excuse

Switching to online and hybrid systems, and incorporating built-in public streaming services has, of course, also had a serious impact on the governments’ in-house IT services. In that respect, today’s advanced conferencing solutions have already managed to reduce the workload pressure of managing hybrid meetings. Intuitive meeting management modules make it possible to manage physical and remote participants from one single, web-based interface.

Security, however, is still a big mental hurdle to take for a lot of IT specialists. Especially opening the institution’s network for streaming or remote support by the system vendor, appears to be a bridge too far. It will be up to the conferencing industry to prove that their systems live up to the highest enterprise-level security and encryption standards. In the meantime, creating a separate second network for streaming purposes is a practical intermediate solution.

5. Output quality is an important motivator

When it comes to convincing government bodies and municipal councils to invest in futureproof conferencing systems, we clearly see a snowball effect. In other words: success stories work. When one council successfully deploys a new system, neighboring councils will look at this and be inclined to mimic the solution.

We do want to point out, however, that customization beats standardization every time. Every organization, every council, and every space are different and may require a different approach. A reference that is often used to evaluate the value of the investment, is the tangible output quality, for instance a highly stable stream will excellent audio and video quality.

Curious to find out more? You can watch the full recording of the webinar here.

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