Video is the New Voice

In the past few years we’ve started to see video conferencing being rolled out by savvy departments and agencies in a bid to communicate more effectively, but the technology’s potential is still largely unrecognised by the public sector. Gary O’Brien shares some examples of how video collaboration can bring Government closer to Citizens and save costs.

When we think of video conferencing, reduction in travel costs immediately springs to mind, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. More and more, videoconferencing is being embraced as a way of carrying out tasks that previously required travel, either by government workers themselves or the people they serve, not just to reduce costs or carbon footprint but to change business processes, build new opportunities and improve citizen service delivery.

Amid calls for more digital government services that reduce human interaction, there is still something to be said for tools that leverage technology to provide face-to-face assistance and provide new ways to get the job done, and better. Here are just 5 examples:

1. With 140 video endpoints in place – including Prison Service, Court Service, Probation Board, Forensic Science and the Youth Justice Agency – the Department of Justice NI has not just cut down travel costs for team meetings across disperse locations but has reduced associated security risks by allowing court sessions to be carried out between the prisons and the courtrooms without transport.

2. Using video technology, acute care provider Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is able to provide patient care from remote locations. The technology allows them to conduct remote video consultations with patients in their own homes or nursing homes, as well as hospitals to GPs or hospitals to prisons. The system helps to reduce patients’ lengths of stay in hospital, supports care outside hospital, including early discharge, and works to avoid unnecessary visits and admissions to hospital. Interestingly, 47% of UK adults would be happy to see their doctor virtually via telehealth visits rather than face-to-face, according to Aviva’s Health Check UK report.

3. South Tyneside Council installed video kiosks to allow members of the public interact directly with personnel from relevant central departments to assist in their enquiries. The technology allows the council to deliver one-stop local services in a more efficient, cost-effective and open way.

4. As well as improving communication between campus staff, video collaboration tools allow Edinburgh Napier University to offer social workspaces in the cloud, giving students opportunities to collaborate more closely and productively with their professors and fellow students. The university has also enhanced its distance-learning programs in Malaysia, India, and China through use of video workspaces. In other areas of the UK, calls are being made to invest in video conferencing facilities that could help extend choice of subjects to schoolchildren in smaller or remote schools.

5. For the UK’s Department of Health, a suite of video solutions has introduced significant reductions in travel and greater collaboration. Desktop video for regular users has made it easier to use the system and collaboration tools like telepresence mean the department can organise larger conferences without the associated costs of hiring a dedicated venue.

Whilst benefits are being realised across the UK’s public sector, the adoption rate is markedly slow. The technology truly has the ability to re-shape the public sector’s interactions with employees and the public, producing distinct opportunities to create a more open, collaborative and efficient Government.

Gary O’Brien is Head of Unified Communication with eir Business NI. If you’d like to hear more about what video can do for your organisation, connect with Gary at or contact the team at 0800 039 2000