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Polycom Video Communications Network Helping South Missouri Emergency Management Agencies Stay Prepared

May 14, 2010

Emergency can strike anywhere, anytime. With a proper strategy in place, it becomes easier to cope with the tragedy. The emergency management agencies in Southwest Missouri seem to have found out the right tool for handling the emergency situation of any kind -- from a terrorist attack to an ice storm or flood.

The officials in an 18-county network of emergency management agencies in southwest Missouri are now armed with Polycom 's video communications infrastructure, that is helping them save lives and property by determining the most effective response and recovery plans for varied types of emergencies.

Before Polycom came in the scene, having real time collaboration between the counties used to be a matter of huge difficulty. For the emergency management agencies operating in the region, enhancing the quality and speed of collaboration was a prime concern.

To address this need, the officials in the region decided to deploy Polycom telepresence and video collaboration solutions.

With the deployment of Polycom, agency offices are equipped with Polycom HDX 4000 personal telepresence and Polycom HDX 9004 room telepresence solutions. For access to video communications from home or from the field, emergency workers use Polycom's PC-based video software application. The Polycom RMX 2000 multipoint conference platform supports multi-party calls, and the Polycom Converged Management Application CMA 4000 solution centrally manages the entire video collaboration network.

The video communications network extends across a region that includes Springfield, Missouri's third largest city, as well as the popular Branson tourist area and several counties that share borders with Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

"Emergency response is a collaborative effort. Video conferencing enables multiple people, wherever they are, to come together on the same page. That's crucial in a disaster," explained Ty Davisson, training and exercise specialist for Missouri's Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management (OEM). This OEM happens to be the one which coordinated the investment in Polycom solutions with funding from the Southwest Missouri Regional Homeland Security Oversight Committee (RHSOC).

"RHSOC set out with the goal of equipping all counties at once. There were 18 different counties to get up and running, working with each of their IT departments and firewalls. We were impressed with Polycom's ability to deliver a complete end-to-end, cost-effective solution for the entire roll out. The service we received from Polycom was phenomenal,"Ryan Nicholls, Springfield-Greene County OEM director noted.

In addition, the OEM has also implemented a Polycom Video Border Proxy(VBP) firewall traversal solution. This enables the OEM to establish connections with outside organizations critical to its mission. With the Polycom RSS 2000 solution, the Springfield-Greene County OEM access on-demand recording, streaming, and archiving of captured video conferences and content. These systems now help the agencies easily connect with FEMA, the Red Cross, and the National Weather Service over video. It has also made more convenient and efficient for federal and national agencies to communicate with all counties in southwestern Missouri simultaneously, particularly in a time of crisis.

"Recently, FEMA held a four-state video conference for input on improving its recovery process. Because we have the video systems in place, we were able to participate and provide our feedback," Ryan Nicholls, Springfield-Greene County OEM director informed.

With plans to broaden use of their network, the agencies intend to rely even more on Polycom and its Professional Services organization, in the upcoming days.

Madhubanti Rudra is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page .

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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