Agencies will have free access to the General Services Administration’s 15 virtual meeting centers starting the end of the month.
The five Washington-area centers were completed last month and others in Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo; Fort Worth, Texas; Denver; San Francisco and Seattle will soon be completed.
An hourly fee to use the telepresence centers won’t kick in until Sept. 30, giving agencies a grace period to test the technology. That fee is not expected to exceed $500 an hour per room, or the cost of some public centers.
The online scheduling portal used to book meeting rooms will also include a carbon footprint tool similar to one GSA offers that can calculate emissions from travel, said Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services. Based on the number of participants, miles traveled and the length of the trip, agencies can weigh the benefits.
“This is the way we want to operate,” said Katherine Spivey of GSA, about the agency using and providing access to telepresence technology. When agencies book travel arrangements, the new e-travel systems will provide telepresence as an option.
GSA anticipates shrinking travel budgets will also push adoption.