GSA to create virtual meeting centers


Starting early next year, federal agencies will have access to telepresence centers at General Services Administration buildings across the country.

The technology will initially span across 14 GSA buildings including 11 regional offices and central offices, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson told reporters today at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va.

“People appear much more life like” and “they engage in eye contact with each other,” said Johnson about the new technologies. “The sound really works, and you feel as if you’re sitting at the same table even though you’re sitting virtually.”

The systems will be set up in rooms throughout select buildings, and services will be offered to other federal agencies using a scheduling system, she said.

Rooms will likely include three high-resolution screens, and a half-circle table with chairs designated for each screen or a stadium style seating arrangement, said Michael Robertson, GSA chief of staff.  “It creates the illusion that users are at the same table. It’s the next level in video conferencing.”

Specific details about the costs and the contract amount were not readily available, but Johnson said “pricing will be such that people will think twice about getting on a plane.”

AT&T is going to manage and develop the virtual network under GSA’s Networx Enterprise contract.


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