NATO employs PolyCom TelePresence

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) recently deployed immersive telepresence solutions from Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) to improve operational efficiency, interagency collaboration and enhance its ability to support out of area operations.

“Information flow is vital to fulfilling our goals and mandates, as well as maximizing the productivity and efficiency of personnel and ensuring the success of operations,” said Malcolm Green, Chief of the NATO C3 Agency’s Capabilities Area Team 9 (CAT 9), Networked Information Infrastructure Communication Services. “Polycom telepresence addresses these challenges by enabling our teams to collaborate more effectively over distances.”

Deployed in six international locations, the Polycom immersive telepresence solutions join an existing large deployment of Polycom video conferencing systems in use today at NATO headquarters and in outposts around the world. The standards-based systems also interoperate securely and seamlessly with video conferencing systems in use by NATO allied partners.

The technology is used daily for central command communications, emergency management, critical needs assessment, crisis communications, intra/interagency collaboration, workgroup collaboration and project management.

“(Video conferencing) has certainly shortened the fuse on NATO’s ability to act in this dynamic environment,” says Brigadier General Gyorgy Lehel, Director of Operations at the NATO Communications and Information Systems Services Agency (NCSA) in Mons, Belgium.

The technology is also helping NATO reduce its need for travel, thereby saving money and improving productivity. The geographic disparity among locations that made it difficult to bring teams together to manage program issues such as budget requirements and technical concerns has been virtually eliminated through the use of immersive telepresence. For example, NATO recently replaced a series of quarterly in-person meetings with telepresence, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $51,000, over 500 hours of travel time and 21,000 kg of carbon emissions for one quarterly session.

Telepresence also helps reduce health and safety risks to operational theatre personnel imposed by travelling, as well as the burden placed on the hosting agency’s resources with managing visitors.

The deployment of Polycom immersive telepresence solutions was a joint project between the NCSA and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), which is responsible for the seamless provision of unbiased scientific support and common funded acquisition of Consultation, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities. The collaborative effort marks the first permanent use of immersive telepresence technology within NATO.

Tasked with implementing technological solutions that will enable NATO to improve the efficiency of its operations, the NC3A initiated a project to provide Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMRs) to locations in Brussels, The Hague, ACT Norfolk, Virginia and the staffs at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). NC3A worked in close partnership with the NCSA, the operational support agency to NATO who fully supported the initiative and provided a system within their headquarters in Belgium.

After testing and evaluating internationally competitive solutions, NC3A chose the Polycom