Videoconferencing: Big Savings Out West

Montana has fewer than 1 million people spread out over an area about the size of Texas, so getting far-flung agency workers to meet is expensive and time-consuming.
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Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation staff conserving time and fuel
Montana has fewer than 1 million people spread out over an area about the size of Texas, so getting far-flung agency workers to meet is expensive and time-consuming. Now the state's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation offices are using videoconferencing for internal meetings, saving thousands for the state.

From July 1 through November 20, approximately $35,000 and 750 employee travel hours were saved. On average, $308 per location for each meeting is saved since it is no longer necessary to travel across the state to attend a meeting.

"That means that if we hold a meeting in Helena with attendees from Kalispell and Missoula, we save about $616," said DNRC Director Mary Sexton.

Cost savings projections through June 30, 2010, are that DNRC will save around $83,500, although that number could be as high as $119,000 annually.

The DNRC has installed Polycom video conferencing systems in its major offices: It has two units installed in Helena, the state capitol. The first was a Polycom VSX7000e at the headquarters, with similar units added in Missoula, Kalispell, Bozeman, Lewistown and Miles City. The department then added another VSX7000e at the Southwest Land Office.

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Last year, DNRC added its first high-definition video unit with a Polycom HDX8000 at a Water Resource Division office in Helena.

Further expansion of the video conferencing network is planned with smaller Polycom units in offices in Glasgow and Libby.

All of the sites can initiate point-to-point video conferences with other DNRC sites and can use the ITSD video bridge for multi-site video conferences.

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