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Collaboration and communication

Videoconferencing

Videoconferencing is widely used in universities, Crown Research Institutes and many other NZ organisations. There are two standard ways of videoconferencing: using the phone network (Integrated Services Digital Network, or ISDN) or using internet protocols (IP).

Videoconferencing over IP can be routed over KAREN to members in NZ and to overseas R&E networks at no/low cost, while ISDN services are provided by commercial companies, often at a premium. KAREN members can save money by ensuring that videoconferencing is routed over KAREN.

ITS Teaching Services provides videoconferencing services at VUW.

Access Grid

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The Access Grid is an open source ensemble of collaboration tools that includes videoconferencing, but combines this with shared applications like whiteboards, presentations and browsers. It is well-suited to events with large numbers of participating groups.

Access Grids are available at every NZ university; worldwide there are several hundred nodes, many of which can be accessed via KAREN for international collaborations.

One of the exciting things about Access Grid is the development work taking place internationally: plug-ins for visualisation, data-sharing and remote control of instruments are being created. These kinds of tools enable researchers to undertake research that would be impossible without KAREN.

ITS Teaching Services provides Access Grid services at VUW. There are two permanent Access Grid facilities in Rankine Brown 106 on the Kelburn Campus and on the Pipitea Campus at Railway 224.

A third experimental Access Grid Facility is managed by ECS and located in the Cotton Building.

Desktop videoconferencing

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Many people use Skype for videoconferencing with colleagues, families and friends, but other tools are emerging that provide more professional desktop videoconferencing that can support research collaborations and teaching.

One product being piloted in New Zealand is EVO (Enabling Virtual Organisations): this was developed by Caltech for the high energy physics community but is becoming more widely used. EVO is being used regularly in New Zealand for meetings with 10-12 participants, and a growing number of researchers use it on a daily basis to collaborate more informally. It has some advantages over similar tools (e.g. Skype): it has been developed specifically for use over advanced networks like KAREN, is more robust and secure, has higher quality sound and video, and can support more participants.

To find out more about EVO, contact e-Research Development.
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Page Updated: 05 May 2009 by christo. © Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, unless otherwise stated. Header image used and relicensed under Creative Commons. Original author: whurley.