US Government opens telepresence centers

[From the FedLine blog of Federal Times; more information is available at the GSA’s telepresence web site here]

GSA virtual meeting centers open to agencies

October 14th, 2011 | Posted by Nicole Johnson

The General Services Administration’s 15 virtual meetings centers are finally open for business after months of delays.

In the face of shrinking travel budgets, GSA is encouraging agencies to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions by meeting virtually.

The telepresence centers, which opened earlier this month, cost $399 per hour per location, comparable to the price of public telepresence rooms. Public meeting rooms usually cost between $400 and $450 an hour, said Mark Barounos, CEO for Colorado-based Telepresence World.

GSA contracted with AT&T to create the centers at its 11 regional headquarters offices – in Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Fort Worth, Texas; Denver; San Francisco; Auburn, Wash.; and Washington, D.C. – including four Washington-area offices.

Each center has high-definition television screens, advanced audio equipment and collaboration tools. Most centers have a capacity of 6 people, but a few can accommodate 14, according to gsa.gov.

AT&T projects that its technology will reduce carbon emissions by 112,000 metric tons this year and 155,000 metric tons in 2011, according to its website.

Agencies can register to use the meeting rooms by calling: 855- 437-9307.

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