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Policy


DownloadDownload Video Conferencing Policy


1. Purpose

This document outlines the responsibilities, policies and procedures governing the use of Video Conferencing (VC) technology within the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).  VCing is based on telecommunication technology connecting two or more locations over a computer network, with cameras, monitors/TV’s and microphones at each end.  Once connected, the people at each end possess the ability to see and hear each other in a totally interactive audio/visual experience.

Even though VDH has extensive intranet bandwidth, it does have its limitations.  Given that  Email, WICNet, and other applications are each in operation on the intranet daily, only a certain number of VC units can operate simultaneously without risk of slowing down or crashing the network.  To ensure that we stay below the risk limits, a centralized scheduling point and process will be established to schedule VC events.

2. Background

VDH provides its services through local health departments operating out of approximately 180 locations throughout the state.  This geographic dispersion has traditionally made it difficult and expensive for VDH to take advantage of classroom training opportunities, conferences, or meetings that involve employees from different locations around the state.  Video Conferencing technology now makes it possible to overcome this problem.

Several offices within VDH have cooperated in the establishment of an agency wide VC network.  Initially, the Office of Human Resources (OHR) procured and distributed VC equipment to several locations throughout the state, supplementing Telemedicine equipment already in place at other sites, to create a VDH Distance Learning capability covering much of the state.   Subsequently, the Office of Risk Communication and Education (ORCE) procured and distributed additional units, making it possible to provide full VC capability at every VDH district and the central office.  The Office of Information Management (OIM) has provided technical support and manages the VDH communications network infrastructure that makes VC possible.

As awareness of the availability and advantages of VC technology has grown, requests for its use by VDH work units have increased substantially.   Other agencies who have learned of the VDH system have also requested approval to use it.  VCing uses substantial network capacity (i.e., bandwidth) for the transmission of live video and audio.  It is essential that VC use be balanced with other VDH mission requirements to ensure that essential VDH network-dependent operations are not adversely affected.

The VC components supplied by ORCE were procured under federal grants in support of the VDH Emergency Preparedness Programs.  Accordingly, the use of the network must be in harmony with federal grant requirements and priorities.

All of these factors point to the need for centralized oversight and administration of the VDH VC network.

3. Responsibilities

a. Virginia IT Infrastructure Partnership: VITA is responsible for management of the VDH network hardware and software to which VC equipment is connected.

b. VDH Office of Risk Communications and Education: is the Agency Point of Contact (APOC) responsible for centralized scheduling of VC events for convenience to users, to assure that priority needs are met and to efficiently manage available network bandwidth.  This office will also provide technical support and training to Site Points of Contact (SPOC) and end users and maintain updated VC information on the Distance Learning web page.  This office is also responsible for equipment maintenance and contract administration for VC components purchased through federal grants.

c. Districts and Offices with VC Equipment:  These work units identify and maintain at least 3 trained site point of contacts (SPOCs).  At least one of the district SPOCs will be available 24-7 to establish a connection with VDH ECC or VEOC during an emergency.  For emergency connection purposes, districts will ensure that the camera is turned on and connected to the CoV network at all times.

Districts and offices that purchase their own cameras are responsible for the maintenance and contract administration.

d. Site Points of Contact:  SPOCs train local equipment users, ensure equipment security, check the VC Schedule daily, and are responsible for setting up the equipment for approved VC sessions at least 60 minutes before the session begins. They will ensure that all equipment cables and cords will be taped down to prevent injury to participants or damage to equipment. 

They will perform quarterly maintenance checks to include setting up the equipment, dialing a test call, and reporting damaged equipment to the Agency Point of Contact APOC immediately.  Repair and/or replacement of equipment damaged as a result of misuse is the responsibility of the party using the equipment to include outside agencies.  SPOCs arrange for maintenance of VC equipment through the APOC in accordance with guidelines supplied by the purchaser of the camera and provide security for VC equipment in accordance with guidelines supplied by VDH OIM. 

e. VC Users:  Employees requesting use of the VC equipment are responsible for contacting the requested VC sites and ensuring that meeting space and equipment are reserved there.  If the VC is for training purposes the requestor is also responsible for listing the VC in TRAIN Virginia to comply with OHR Policy 5.05.

Requests for special equipment (i.e. laptops and recording the VC session to the video server or by VCR/DVD recorder) shall be given one week in advance of the session.  If there is a request to tape a session via VCR/DVD recorder it is the requestor’s responsibility to supply a blank tape/DVD and to take the tape/DVD from the recorder when the session is over.  Due to limited space, sessions recorded to the video server will be removed from the server after 3 months to make room for new recordings.  It is the responsibility of the VC Users to request the session remain on the server past the 3 month point.

Requests to use the VC network by other agencies must be made at least two weeks in advance of the requested date and must be approved by the Director of the Office of Risk Communications and Education.

Requestors may be billed for VITA network fees if applicable. 

f. Site Points of Contact: SPOC’s train local equipment users, ensure equipment security check the VC Schedule daily, and are responsible for setting up the equipment, for approved VC sessions at least 30 minutes before the session begins. They will ensure that all equipment cables and cords will be taped down to prevent injury to participants or damage to equipment.

They will perform quarterly maintenance checks to include setting up the equipment, dialing a test call, and reporting damaged equipment to the Agency Point of Contact APOC immediately. Repair and/or replacement of equipment damaged as a result of misuse is the responsibility of the person using the equipment to include outside agencies. SPOC’s arrange for maintenance of VC equipment in accordance with guidelines supplied by the purchaser of the camera and provide security for VC equipment in accordance with guidelines supplied by OIM. The SPOC will also keep the equipment updated with the latest version of the camera software.

g. Requestors: Employees requesting usage of the VC equipment are responsible for contacting the requested VC sites including rooms at MSS, to ensure that meeting space and equipment are reserved there.

PowerPoint presentations and request for special equipment i.e. taping the VC session, should be given one week in advance of the session. If there is a request to tape a session it is the requestor’s responsibility to take the tape from the VCR when the session is over.

Request to use the VC network by other agencies need to be made two weeks in advance of the requested date and must be approved by the Director of EP & R.

4. VC Priority Uses

a. Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs have priority use over the VC network and may take control of the network during public health threats or emergencies to communicate with VDH work units and other agencies throughout the state. Instructions to take over the VC network will be given by the Deputy Commissioner. 

b. Telemedicine broadcasts will be given priority over other routine VDH VC uses, except for those described in the previous paragraph.

c. Certain events scheduled by the Commissioner may also require previously scheduled events to be interrupted, cancelled or delayed.

d. All other routine VDH requests may be scheduled at any time with the understanding that the previously describe situations may cause the scheduled event to be interrupted, cancelled or delayed.

e. Outside agencies may schedule events on the network with the understanding that a VDH need may cause the scheduled event to be interrupted, cancelled, or delayed.

5. Procedures

a. Districts and offices arrange for VC usage by checking the on-line VC Schedule provided at the Distance Learning web site on the VDHWEB, completing the VC Request form provided for that purpose and submitting it to the APOC where the request is added to the schedule. This form should include the submitters cost codes before a VC will be arranged. Requests should be sent in at least two weeks in advance of the requested VC date. It is the requestor’s responsibility to reserve meeting rooms. Rooms should be reserved at least 60 minutes earlier than the meeting start time to allow for time to set up the equipment.

b. Usage requests will be approved on a first come, first served basis, except that the priority uses described above will take precedence.

c. Within three business days, the APOC will process and respond to usage requests, checking the central calendar for conflicts and checking for the availability of network capacity on the requested day. The APOC will notify the requestor whether the request can be accommodated on the requested date. The APOC will provide the SPOCs with the MCU connection information for each VC session and contact information for problems. Modifications to requested sites will only come from the VC requestor.

d. In preparation for the meeting, the SPOCs at each participating site will set up the equipment at least 30 minutes prior to the VC session, check equipment condition, and conduct an operational test. Just before the VC session begins, the SPOC should familiarize the participants with the use of the equipment and provide them with a notification number to use in case there are problems.

e. When the VC session is over, the SPOC disconnects the call and again checks the equipment’s condition and functionality. Any equipment problems will be immediately reported to the APOC.

f. Repair and/or replacement of equipment damaged resulting from misuse is the responsibility of party(s) using the equipment.

g. Warranties on VC equipment will be monitored and maintained by the VDH unit that purchased the equipment. The APOC will arrange and carry-out quarterly checks of statewide VC coverage.

h. Should the need arise to move VC equipment from an assigned site to another location, the APOC and camera’s purchaser must first be notified. Once approved the new IP address needs to be given to the APOC.

i. Other state agencies that may use VDH VC equipment are subject to these policies and procedures. The VDH district or office that serves as the other agency’s contact will arrange for scheduling and other housekeeping requirements of this policy.

6. Effective Date: 08/01/2010


Approved: ______________________________________ Date: ______________


Last Updated: 07-21-2011

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