Video- and teleconferencing save both time and money

February 26, 2004

University officials are encouraging faculty and staff to consider the option of video- and teleconferencing for long-distance meetings, training and instruction as a way to save time and money.

University Park is equipped with 16 videoconferencing sites, and all 24 campus locations have videoconference rooms and teleconferencing capabilities as well.

"A lot of people travel to other campuses when they could use video- and teleconferencing," said Jim Dunlop, director of Procurement Services, who also leads the Expenditures and Operational Efficiency Team, which examines cost-savings initiatives at Penn State.

"The equipment is available and probably underutilized," he added. "I don't think it's a case of people refusing to use the equipment. I think a lot of people don't know it is available."

Luke Taiclet, director of Business and Financial Services at Beaver campus, uses video- and teleconferencing three to four times a month and encourages others to consider the technology for meetings and training.

"For a meeting where we would drive up and back (to University Park), we save about $150, not to mention lost productivity in travel," Taiclet said. "A day trip to University Park during the week usually means a day in the office on the weekend. I find the biggest savings to be time, but quality-of-life issues also are a factor."

Taiclet estimates that he saves the department $6,000 per year through the use of video- and teleconferencing.

Videoconferencing uses traditional television technology and transmits the signal live to single or multiple sites. Participants call in on special telephone lines and conduct meetings, interviews or instruct classes — everyone can see, hear and participate in the discussions.

The savings are worth the unconventional meeting style, according to Taiclet. "At first you feel funny (using the equipment), but you get used to it," he said, referring to the format and picture quality.

The quality of the video, while good, is not the same quality that is seen on a television screen at home. Videoconferencing uses compressed video technology, which requires less bandwidth to transmit the information and is less costly than the type of video transmission used in broadcast television. The only noticeable detection is a slight strobe effect when someone makes a quick movement in front of the camera.

Another option to traveling to distant sites is teleconferencing. Teleconferencing is less sophisticated than videoconferencing, but for certain situations, conducting business on the phone is ideal. Most conference rooms at the University are equipped with speaker phones that allow for teleconferencing.

Penn State's Telecommunications and Networking Services, a unit of Information Technology Services, is responsible for developing and maintaining the telecommunications services within and among University locations and outside networks. For more information about video- or and teleconferencing and a complete listing of videoconference rooms at University Park and other locations, visit the Web at http://tns.its.psu.edu

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 20, 2009