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Civic Center to provide video conferencing
December 12, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Thanks to $44,000 in keno funding, the Gering Civic Center will soon have a high-tech Polycom system to offer video conferencing to its customers.

“A Polycom system is what they use at the UNL Extension Center for distance learning,” said Civic Center manager Rick Keller. “People on both ends of the line can see each other and interact. It’s similar to Skype but on a much larger scale.”

The system can work as well in the Civic Center’s smaller rooms or in the large conference rooms.

One use of the system would be when a large conference is meeting in Gering, but one of the speakers is grounded elsewhere due to weather. “Conference organizers would either have to reschedule or figure out something else,” Keller said. “With a Polycom system, the speaker only has to find a place using it, which is at most universities. The interactive presentation can be made from wherever the speaker is located.”

Keller said Polycom will be a vast improvement from what is used not. Video is streamed over the Internet and requires a call into an 800-number for connection. If conference attendees have questions, they have to call an 800-number and questions are relayed to the speaker.

Many corporations and other groups have recently been scaling back their large conferences because of the cost. So rather than bringing in 300 – 400 people, the main office will connect with branch offices via video conferencing.

Keller said that then Gering City Administrator Mike Steklac asked him to bid a Polycom system in 2001 because he felt the city needed it. “We lost one large client recently because we didn’t have this capability,” he said. “That was enough to get me started to actively pursue getting a Polycom system here.”

Keller added they have about seven past clients who would be interested in using the technology. So in the near future, the Civic Center will be promoting it.

Because the Civic Center is owned by the city, the Polycom system will require sending out for bids. Consequently, the system should be installed in early 2014.

“We’ll be ready for our conference season,” Keller said. “It starts about February or March and runs through the summer. We’ll try to bring that business back to Gering.”
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