Like all organizations worldwide, the departments of the US military had to adapt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the departments had systems in place to support in-person meetings, they, unfortunately, lacked solutions that could accommodate the emerging need for social distance. Continuing to hold routine communications such as briefings, training, and interactions with others became a challenge. For example, one restriction does not permit more than six individuals inside a conference room at any given point. Additionally, there are various protocols depending on whether or not individuals are considered essential and the subjects being discussed at each meeting.
The departments had a frequent need for meetings with over twenty people present, such as training sessions and conversations with partners. They needed solutions that would allow them to securely join together people in multiple rooms. Additionally, staff needed to connect from different physical locations, both inside their buildings as well as from home, and participate via voice and video.
“n2grate began by assessing the requirements of the departments. Our methodology includes first interviewing the client to understand what they must accomplish and determine the necessary functionality. For example, if they need to merely see each other via video, or if they require the ability to actively track who is speaking and focus the cameras on that active speaker. Additionally, they may need to share content and collaborate remotely via whiteboard.
Finally, we determine our client’s security requirements and any relevant government regulations the solution must comply with. We can then determine what equipment will best fit their needs,” explained Shawayne Davis, n2grate.
Seamless Connectivity with Existing Solutions
Since the departments had existing Cisco solutions in place, n2grate needed to provide equipment that could connect seamlessly. “n2grate has worked closely with the various departments to identify the appropriate solution sets, whether it be a simple solution allowing point-to-point calls between two different rooms with socially distant users or more sophisticated collaborative tools,” stated Mr. Davis.
n2grate implemented a variety of Cisco Video Teleconferencing (VTC) solutions such as Webex Room Kits, Webex Boards, and video-enabled telephony endpoints. These solutions allow face-to-face, real-time communication from any location, enabling the departments to communicate in a collaborative manner. With the Cisco Webex Board, users can wirelessly present, whiteboard, and video or audio conference. The interactive whiteboard not only enables users to share notes but allows others to take control and add annotations to shared content, all at the touch of a finger. The team at n2grate ensured each office location was equipped with the solutions required to enable communication. For instance, some locations needed to share documents and screens or see what was happening, but not contribute via annotations.
Maintaining Highly Secure Communication and Regulatory Compliance
n2grate supports clients in maintaining highly secure communications as well as compliance with appropriate government regulations. Mr. Davis explained, “We worked with them to ensure that they’re deploying the recommended solution based on security guidelines made by DISA, based on a Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG). This way, our customers can rest assured that the devices have the appropriate authentication and authorization process, and encrypted communication is maintained to ensure confidentiality.”
JITC-Approved Cisco Video Teleconferencing (VTC) Solutions
n2grate needed to provide the departments with JITC-approved tested and validated equipment. Described as a “one-stop systems testing center,” the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) is a wing of the United States Department of Defense that tests and certifies information technology products for military use. In addition to providing the functionality needed, Cisco’s VTC equipment is on the Approved Products List (APL), meaning the solutions are JITC-approved and have been validated to run in FIPS 140-2 mode adhering to the government’s strict security compliance requirements.
Enabling Collaborative Communications and Maintaining Productivity
Users can now communicate in a manner that is more collaborative than traditional telephone calls or even video calls. Since users can see each other and take advantage of sophisticated collaboration tools, there has been no loss in productivity.