APEC via video conference? Possible, but not likely

APEC’s leaders meeting caused massive disruptions to the Sydney CBD. But could future cities be saved if such meetings are held via video conference?

With the extreme security measures, logistical requirements, and disruptions to the local population, could future APEC leaders week meetings be conducted via video conferencing?

Gus Kollar, general manager for technology for the APEC 2007 taskforce, says it is possible, however unlikely.

"I think it would be a hard sell. Having gone through it [APEC] now, the delegates actually like to come to Australia," he says." But it's quite feasible and possible."

Two of the major issues for APEC organisers to consider would be the security and encryption of the network, and availability of bandwidth over which the conference would take place.

Kollar says that from a security standpoint it is possible.

"You could do it from that perspective."

He says the challenge would be that not all the 21 APEC economies would want to share the same bed in terms of security and encryption technologies.

"For example, the US might find it unpalatable to share their cryptography with the Russians, so there would be difficulties there."

"So you would have to drop it down to a commercial grade product."

Michael Chetner, Australia and NZ manager for video conferencing vendor Polycom, says its RealPresence High Definition system is capable of providing the technology required for high level government related video conferencing.

"The theoretical answer is yes. This type of technology is targeted towards where the experience of being in the call is just like being there."

"The way the RealPresence system fits in is that it is targeted towards mission critical situations, whether it's for a President, a Prime Minister or a CEO of a global company."

Chetner says that the US government and elements of the Australian government already have a large base of Polycom products, so the infrastructure is already in place.

Hewlett Packard also offers high level government and business video conferencing technologies via its Halo system.

Jay Kim, Halo business manager for HP's imaging and printing group in Asia Pacific and Japan, also agrees that conducting APEC leaders week meetings via video conferencing would be possible.

"Hosting an event such as APEC via Halo would certainly be a viable alternative to physically convening 21 world leaders in one location."

Kim says that the Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN) is designed specifically for optimal video performance, with high level government applications in mind.

"HVEN provides customers with AES256 encryption, the highest level of security commercially available for video communication.

This is particularly important for government organisations that require the highest level of security due to the confidential nature of conversations and documents that are shared."

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