Following the budget crisis of 2008, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles launched a video conferencing program by installing equipment in meeting rooms at 15 locations throughout the state in 2010. The plan had always been to move into mobile conferencing at some point, says CIO Rob Fields.
The Florida Highway Patrol is now experimenting with putting mobile video conferencing into the hands of its staff and troopers via Apple devices running the Cisco Jabber unified communications client. "In our testing, it's already started to prove itself pretty dramatically," says Fields. "Video from the mobile devices will afford us the ability to send live video feed from the scene of a traffic accident or environmental issue back to headquarters."
A Wealth of Possibilities
Rugged notebooks in cruisers run Cisco Movi, the precursor to Jabber. However, those devices are 4 to 5 years old and face bandwidth and computing limitations. "The contract for the laptops is coming up for renewal, and then we'll get all the goodies we need to let them really be mobile by converging technologies into a single unified platform — data communications, video, VoIP and touch screen," Fields says.
The agency will begin rolling out Jabber software to 1,200 staff in July. Though some were slow in accepting the technology during the pilot, they now use it frequently on their computers. "It's easy to schedule video meetings, and we don't have to pay for patrolmen and field managers to travel," Fields says.
In the future, Fields anticipates staff using a tablet or smartphone to perform administrative appearances and inspections. "We also have mobile workers who inspect the records of dealerships and mobile homes throughout the state," he adds.
Summing up the benefits that mobile video conferencing brings to his agency, Fields says, "Our staff can work more efficiently and provide more service to citizens."
"With so many of our staff members in the field and working far from Houston TranStar's main headquarters, we absolutely see opportunity in mobile video collaboration."
— Dinah Massie, Public Information Officer, Houston TranStar
"We are testing mobile video conferencing this summer. This should help ease some of the burden for family members to visit with incarcerated individuals as well as help with re-entry planning."
— Ronald Brothers, CIO, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
"We use Adobe Connect for video conferencing with multistate, federal and local emergency agencies to share a common operating picture."
— Officer Trevor Ziemba, Bainbridge Island Police Department, Wash.