GSA has contracted with AT&T to create the centers at its 11 regional headquarters offices and at four Washington national headquarters offices, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said. ()
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The General Services Administration is building virtual meeting centers at its offices nationwide that will be open for use by all federal agencies.
GSA has contracted with AT&T to create the centers at its 11 regional headquarters offices — in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — and at four Washington national headquarters offices, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson told reporters Monday at the Executive Leadership Conference here.
The centers, expected to open early next year, are designed to help agencies reduce travel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Each location will have high-definition screens, advanced audio equipment and collaboration tools.
The centers will also be open for military families to meet virtually with service members overseas, according to a GSA news release.
"People appear much more lifelike," Johnson said of the new technology. "You feel as if you're sitting at the same table even though you're sitting virtually."
The improved video conferencing will foster a culture that "convince(s) people to move off airplane(s) and get on technology," she said.
For a fixed hourly rate, all federal agencies will have access to the virtual meeting centers through a web-based scheduling system. Specific rates were not discussed, but Johnson said pricing would be competitive with airline rates.
AT&T will manage and develop the virtual network through an $18 million task order on GSA's Networx Enterprise contract.