eGovWatch: RailTel’s video conferencing to help govt departments increase productivity

More and more businesses are adopting video conferencing and collaboration platforms as a way to stay connected. In sync with this trend, RailTel Corporation of India (RTCIL), the telecom arm of Indian Railways, has partnered with Cisco to provide a video conference service, called Telepresence, on its vast broadband network. RailTel, a mini-ratna public enterprise with more than 45,000 km network of optic fibre cables throughout the country, is the first among its peers to do so.

The service, which aims to bring in more speed in day-to-day functioning of large organisations, can also be used to fulfil aspirations of millions.
According to A Seshagiri Rao, director —network, planning & marketing of RTCIL, Telepresence can not only become a key driver of the skill development mission, it will help reduce the cost of operations of government PSUs and large departments like the Indian Railways.

India, having more than 60% of its population aged between 15-59 years has the largest pool of working population. Since 2004, skill development has been a thrust area for the government. The recent economic survey report reiterated the significance of the ‘demographic dividend’ and cautioned about the downside risk of ignoring the requirements of adding value to the ‘youth bulge’. Being a large and geographically diverse country, with limited resources, India has been struggling to address the problem.

After forming a dedicated governmental agency in 2013—the National Skill Development Corporation—the issue could not be met with success. While physical infrastructure and better job prospects remains a challenge, “lack of quality teachers compounded the problem”.

And that is where a country-wide video conferencing service comes as a respite. A high definition video conferencing service can eliminate the distance between large metropolises and tier-III or tier-IV towns and villages as individuals can have the same learning experience irrespective of their locations.
Indian Railways has recently adopted the service and it is slowly introducing video conferencing in its internal operations.

Although till date, railways have used the service to flag off trains from the country’s capital, its zonal offices are in talks with RailTel to utilise video conferencing for other activities.

Major infrastructure providers like Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and Bihar government has been added to the list of clientele of RTCIL. While CWC is using the service to keep track of its warehouses across the country, the government of Bihar has introduced it in its judicial system. “The most important benefit of it (Telepresence) is the extent of time it saves apart from, of course, the reduction in capital expenditure” for its users, says Rao. “Since, it is an end-to-end solution, companies need not maintain a dedicated team to look after it, neither they would have to create the entire set up to avail video conferencing.”

According to RTCIL, Telepresence costs 20-30% less than what it would cost to create and maintain an entire set up for video conferencing. Although, the concept is wide-spread amongst corporates and large private companies, it is the public companies and government agencies which are still to adopt such modes of communication. Rao believes, “simplification of video conferencing and innovative ways” to use the service would become an important pillar of Digital India project.

Meanwhile, RTCIL, with its enterprise class full high definition (HD) and secure multi-point managed video conferencing service, is loading its barrels for the battle ahead.

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