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Videoconferencing has advanced dramatically in the last few years.  Life-sized images, high resolution, high quality, high reliability, and ease of use have improved the experience to such an extent that it can be a surrogate for face-to-face meetings.  This generic application has relevance across many enterprises, and it can reduce transportation associated with corrections, emergency management, global operations, work centers, board meetings, legislative committee meetings, and medical consultations. Another important aspect of telework in general is the opportunity to improve productivity by keeping employees working regardless of extenuating circumstances.  For example, the US Weather Research Program estimated annual weather related losses in the US at $15.8 billion. Road problems (construction/congestion), health and safety issues (pandemic) also keep workers away from their assigned offices.  If these employees could work at home or an accessible work center, many of these costs could be avoided.

Current State

These technologies are deployed in operations around the world, and several
brief case studies are provided below.

Minimum Technology Requirements

  • Telepresence – 6- 20 Mbps for multiple manufacturers
  • Smart Work Center – 6-20 Mbps
  • Connected Bus – 1-5 Mbps
  • Personal Travel Assistant – 2-5 Mbps

Business Aspects

Smart Work Center pilot is a public-private partnership model.  The public sector could also serve the role of anchor tenant.  This could be an important contribution to aggregate demand in less urban areas where broadband deployment is scarce.  In the US GSA model, the federal government operates the centers.
Connected Bus is expected to be a commercial model for sale to cities. It seeks to enhance public transportation thereby attracting more riders.  (A grass roots survey seems to indicate it will – View Treehugger Survey.)
Personal Travel Assistant business model involves multiple players.  First, city governments, public and private transit authorities, traffic data aggregators, smart work centers and innumerable other entities will provide the data for the applications.  Government’s role will be to integrate transport services and real-time traffic information, develop mobility marketing strategies, design shared information service platform.  The actual service channel may be private sector value-added information or telematics services and the public sector through the city’s web site, broadcast or one-call service.

Obstacles or Barriers to Further Deployment

Barriers include lack of robust broadband availability, expense, resistance to change, and interoperability.