Secure Video Conferencing Helps Government Agencies Improve Reach and Efficiency
Federal, state and local government entities have made innovative use of video conferencing to maintain essential functions during the ongoing pandemic. Courts use the technology to remotely conduct oral arguments, preliminary hearings, arraignments and other procedures. State governments are witnessing legal documents, issuing marriage licenses and conducting committee meetings by video. Local governments are conducting virtual city council, planning and zoning meetings.
Although the pandemic has clearly driven greater government use of video conferencing, agencies have actually been increasing their use of the technology for more than a decade. Research shows that government at all levels is becoming increasingly dependent on video collaboration to reduce costs, reach underserved constituents and enable continuity of operations.
Video conferencing provides a cost-efficient means for government agencies and public sector institutions to extend the reach of their programs and services while also fostering collaboration among agencies, employees and contractors. Here are some of the common government use cases for video conferencing and collaboration:
Reduce travel expenses: Government representatives frequently travel to other cities, states or countries to conduct businesses. The federal government alone spends more than $15 billion per year on travel. Video conferences can replace many in-person meetings.
Reach underserved constituents: Federal, state and county agencies often struggle to extend services and programs to sparsely populated rural communities. Video provides a route into these areas while conserving time and resources.
Enable open meeting access: Video conferencing solutions allow access to government meetings that are required by law to be open to the public. This can include meetings of city, county, education and medical entities.
Conduct training programs: Agencies can use video to include far-flung employees and constituents for training and education programs, service coordination, and community outreach programs.
Public safety. Overcrowded jails are a problem in many communities. Video-based arraignment and sentencing procedures reduce the risks and costs of transferring prisoners from jail to the courthouse.
Continuity of operations: As illustrated during the pandemic, video helps agencies maintain operations in the midst of natural disasters, service outages and other disruptive events.
Despite video’s proven value, agencies must do their due diligence when selecting a conferencing solution. The Zoom platform has been subject to widespread “Zoom bombing” attacks, with conferences disrupted by racist or pornographic images.
Last month, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) published an assessment of popular video conferencing and collaboration tools for government agencies to consider. Although the NSA emphasized that it was not endorsing any product, Cisco Webex had one of the most compelling appraisals of the 13 products evaluated.
Webex is the only solution that supports each of the NSA’s five suggested collaboration methods — text, voice conferencing, video conferencing, file sharing and screen sharing. Webex also supports end-to-end encryption, multifactor authentication, invitation controls and minimal third-party data sharing.
Webex is also among the few solutions evaluated by the NSA that adheres to FedRAMP federal security requirements, which is one reason why more than 2,000 government agencies currently use Webex. End‑to‑end encryption keeps messages, documents and whiteboard content encrypted from one device to another, and the solution can be integrated with data loss prevention applications to keep sensitive information private.
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