Taking Shelter From The Storm
This has been one of the snowiest winters on record in the United States and Europe. In the eastern United States, residents are running out of places to put the snow in what seems like a daily ritual of removing multiple inches — or sometimes feet — of new accumulation.
Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore have all logged their snowiest winters in history, and on January 27, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg reported, “We have now had the snowiest January in New York City history. We have had 36 inches since January 1, breaking a record last set in 1925.
Across the ocean, the United Kingdom experienced its earliest snowfall in 17 years in November 2010. On the European continent, some 60 percent of the German Weather Service’s weather stations below 200 meters elevation saw record snow falls for December.
This comes as no surprise to those with an eye toward advanced weather forecasts. Before the winter began, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that this would be “another winter of extremes in store for U.S. as La Niña strengthens.” In NOAA’s winter outlook, Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, advised, “La Niña is in place and will strengthen and persist through the winter months, giving us a better understanding of what to expect between December and February. This is a good time for people to review the outlook and begin preparing for what winter may have in store.”
With a bit of planning, the snarls of winter travel can be avoided, ensuring business continuity even in the direst of meteorological circumstances. Tracking the National Weather Service’s seasonal predictions are just part of the solution. It’s also a good idea to take a close look at which of your business’ practices can be performed remotely via communications technology.
Bad weather certainly highlights the importance of technology for businesses. Whether you’re planning business continuity for a Fortune 500 company, a small- to medium-sized business, a school, or a house of worship, there are technological solutions can come to the rescue when travel is inadvisable.
In addition to communications via videoconferencing and other collaboration tools, streaming video can be a viable solution for broadcasting information from one source to many audience members. These solutions extend to some atypical applications. In one creative use of streaming video technology, a ballet school in Scotland recently taught classes to snowbound students.
If your organization has been slow to adopt remote working options for day-to-day business, it might still be advisable to implement a technology solution as a backup. Melanie Pinola, writing about Telecommuting for Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity for About.com’s Mobile Office Technology Guide, puts it succinctly: “When emergencies like snow storms or flu outbreaks strike, even organizations that are most reluctant to let employees work from home will (or should) consider telecommuting or telework as part of their business continuity or emergency preparedness plan.”
These technologies shouldn’t just be saved for a rainy day, however. Advanced AV recently worked with the U.S. office of a global specialty biopharmaceutical company to implement a flexible meeting space used for town hall meetings, training sessions, and events. The ability to conduct audioconferencing and videoconferencing with other worldwide locations was at the heart of a new AV system, improving the company’s communications while adhering to its travel avoidance policy.
“They are an eco-minded company,” explains Joel Brazy, CTS, account executive for Advanced AV. “They invested in technology rather than travel budgets for flights. The idea was to create a conferencing space to eliminate the cost of renting hotel conference space for different purposes.”
Whether a reduction in travel occurs in anticipation of inclement weather or if it’s simply in accordance with new budget and environmental considerations, there are plenty of options for real-time, immersive audio and video collaboration.