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The Government Video Boom

Ask the Mayor
In Mobile, Ala., city officials used TV Worldwide’s online video services to create a live webcast in which Mayor Samuel Jones answered questions submitted by residents via email. Jones says he received about 350 questions total and was able to answer about one-fourth of them during the approximately 1-hour-and-15-minute webinar.

"It was to give citizens another mode of communication to reach city hall and to also reach citizens who would otherwise not have the time or opportunity to come down to city hall because they’re physically challenged," Jones says. "It also reached a lot of young people who really use social networks, and it’s extremely popular with them. So we thought it would be a good way to engage them."

To produce the webinar, the city contracted with TV Worldwide for cameras, a switcher, and other services, according to Barbara Drummond, executive director of administrative service and community affairs for Mobile. She says a team of three professionals from the company worked with the city’s IT department to bring the event to life.

"We have a special room set up with technology items from the screens to T1 lines and so forth," she says. "We actually held the webinar in that room, and our IT department put all the technology in there, so they worked with TV Worldwide."

After the live webcast was completed, the video was archived and posted on the city’s webpage as well as its YouTube page, which features five videos, including the webinar.

"What we really wanted to do was build confidence in the process," Drummond says. "We wanted to put it on our website so people who didn’t get a chance to participate could see it and see what value it had."

Figure 2
Figure 2. At the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Accordent’s Media Management System, PresenterPLUS, andCapture Station products are used to capture and distribute information throughout the agency by wayof online video.

According to Jones, the webinar has led to an increase in government participation, with many more individuals volunteering for community cleanups or other programs. He also says he is receiving many emails from citizens asking how they can get more involved in planning processes and other issues facing the city.

"It really gives us a lot of information on what concerns citizens have, what areas of interest they have, and the areas in which they think we need to address," Jones says. "And some of those areas may be areas we have not been exposed to in the past."

The DOD’s New Way to Train
At the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Accordent’s Media Management System, PresenterPLUS, and Capture Station products are used to capture and distribute information throughout the agency by way of online video, according to Tim Chermak, a software engineer at Exceptional Software Strategies, Inc. who operates the DOD’s webcasting system.

"We have some key people we call the subject matter experts, who are busy people doing their jobs who have just incredible knowledge in their heads and give presentations and demonstrations and things on and off throughout their career," he says. "Various people were leaving, retiring, moving on to other projects and things like that. That’s a lot of important information sort of being lost and not handed down in an efficient way. That’s where this initiative was born."

To record this information for future workers, the DOD videotapes these experts explaining how to accomplish various tasks, gathers PowerPoint slides and other supporting information, and combines them into rich media presentations, Chermak says. These presentations can be viewed through two portals: a learning portal, which was in place before the DOD switched from Autonomy Virage to Accordent 6 months ago, and Accordent’s management portal, which employees can access from their corporate accounts.

"We’re in the process now of determining how we’re going to tie [the Accordent portal] into the learning portal," he says. "It might just be through some links."

Chermak says the Accordent portal currently houses about 10 on-demand videos, but there are more than 1,000 additional videos in the overall Virage system. He says the DOD does few (if any) live webcasts, and if it does, they would usually be handled by the agency’s corporate side.

"Something may be presented out of an auditorium," he says. "Sometimes we’ll get that video, it’ll be supplied to us, and then we can go ahead and take it from there using Presenter Plus and build it into a rich media presentation. You get a little bit of everything. And then it goes into our archive, where it’s searchable."

Chermak says online video has improved the DOD’s training and learning capabilities in several ways. First, the agency has introduced web-based tool demonstrations that take viewers from an introductory level to advanced use of a tool, improving productivity. Training videos are also available at any time, so if an employee needs a quick refresher course on how to use a specific tool, he or she could simply watch a video, reducing wasted time and improving efficiency.

Online video has also expanded the DOD’s reach. Because the agency works globally, it must deal with time zone differences and travel concerns, and online video helps to solve these problems, Chermak says.

"When you have things that are going on that are important for certain mission people, they’re not just going to jump on a plane, head here for a couple of days, and head back," he says. "We’re bridging those kinds of gaps. Just bridging the communications."

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