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Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

You may already know that Webex Devices provide a great collaboration experience for people working from home or in the office, but did you know they are also equipped with powerful sensors?

Sensors aren’t just for data enthusiasts or those responsible for workplace optimization and safety. They can provide critical and timely information to employees which can drive behavior, build trust and at the end of the day, create an amazing workplace experience.

Have you ever been in a meeting room that felt crowded or stuffy and you just needed a few minutes to break away? Sensors, analytics, and automation solve this issue by giving people the information they need to make informed decisions about where and how they work.

A common argument against sensors is that they are expensive, difficult to install and require a team to track, manage and optimize spaces. That may be true for ad-hoc devices, but Webex Devices come equipped with powerful sensors out of the box, so you can easily gain the insights you need to optimize every workspace at no extra charge. It’s all included in the video conferencing device — no extra installation, no data scientists, just reliable insights.

We recently discussed how sensors and workplace analytics can help deliver a safe return to the office. Now, let’s take a closer look at how various roles can benefit from sensors:

The office worker

For users, the complexity of sensors, data and analytics are always hidden. For example, if there are too many people in a room or the air quality is poor, the sensors in the Webex device will measure the conditions and an alert can be delivered straight to the video conferencing device, a Webex Room Navigator on the table or even a 3rd display.

The messages and warnings are fully customizable so organizations can adapt messages to the characteristic of the room. For example, the alert can notify people in the room to open a window if there is one, use another room and provide direction to the closest available room, or reduce the amount of people if the threshold limit is reached. The possibilities are endless, and it can all be automated, so no one has to sit in front of a screen all day monitoring and manually alerting people.

The HR and facilities representative

If you are in human resources or the facilities department, Webex sensors and analytics enables you to know if workers are staying in a healthy environment and whether the criteria for comfort, safety and energy are met. And historical data and insights are reported directly into the Webex Control Hub Workspace tab so you can have a full view of how environmental factors are trending.

Sensors and analytics in Webex Control Hub
Fig 1: historical environment metrics
historical utilization metrics
Fig 2: historical utilization metrics

Optimizing workspaces with Webex sensors

Webex Devices provide various types of sensors for ensuring safe and productive workspaces. These are the sensors available today:

1) Presence & people count for real estate optimization

Spaces are rarely used to their full potential; they are often overused or underused which can lead to productivity loss. Some rooms could be divided, while others should be augmented. Space optimization has a direct impact on energy and the cost of real estate, but more importantly on employees’ productivity and wellbeing. People count in Webex Devices uses AI to accurately detect humans, whether they are facing the Webex Device or not. This data makes it easy to plan and optimize spaces based on usage trends.

People Count Sensing
Fig 3: People count sensing used to regulate the room density

 

2) Temperature & humidity for reducing the risk of virus transmission 

Temperature and humidity need to be thought of simultaneously because the one affects the other. While temperature is mostly a human preference, maintaining a temperature of 21 to 25 degrees Celsius for a person sitting still is deemed productive.

Research also points at regular burst of cold air to improve productivity. With regards to humidity, we need to be more prescriptive. Usually, humidity levels between 30% and 60% are recommended, as it’s considered most healthy for humans.

Itchy eyes, throat irritations and respiratory symptoms have been associated with unfavorable humidity levels. And more recent studies also show that the level of humidity has a direct impact on the propagation of the Covid-19. They suggest maintaining relative humidity levels between 40% and 60%.

3) Air quality & VOCs for preventing air saturated with pollutants 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are present in furniture and carpets, cleaning products, perfumes, when food is cooked and in human breath. When they accumulate in a room, they can cause irritations, headaches, and loss of concentration which results in discomfort, productivity loss or even danger.

Poor air quality can often be circumvented with better ventilation. Tracking people count and air quality simultaneously can also help you find root causes and possible adaptations.

The Webex platform APIs also enable the automation of these processes, so the data can be rendered and acted upon. Both the Webex Desk Pro and Webex Room Navigator are enabled with TVOC sensing. Values reported in the Control Hub follow UBA reference levels and indicate 5 different levels of air quality.

4) Noise measurements for designing comfortable spaces

Noise at work is one of the major causes of dissatisfaction. It can hinder productivity, focus, memory retention and mental arithmetic.

Webex measures two types of noise, the overall noise produced by people, tools, and the building itself, and the ambient or background noise produced by the HVAC systems, for example. Isolating noises will help better understand the kind of annoyances people are confronted with and how they can be resolved. The WELL Building Institute recommends no more than 35dBA background noise in conference rooms.

5) Good acoustics for improving intelligibility and reducings strain

Bad acoustics in rooms generates reverberance that causes fatigue. Meeting rooms with glass walls are a typical example. The WELL standard recommends reverberation times of less than 0.6 second in conference rooms.

While this is uncomfortable for workers inside the room, it is even more so for people who are on a call and sitting in the far end where it becomes difficult for the brain to process and separate sound sources. We’ve all experienced this “speaker in a box” feeling.

Webex Devices measure the RT60 (reverberation time) on a regular basis without emitting testing sounds.

In addition to these environment sensors, Webex Devices can also report on the activity and status of a room. APIs give access to information such as: ongoing calls, presentation sharing in and out of call and booked rooms., This information can be used to better understand how rooms are used.

The right sensor at the right place

Analytics from Webex Devices come from multiple sensors within our device portfolio. People count is an attribute of the Webex Room and Board series. Usually located against a wall, centered and at bodies’ height, it is the best placement for recognizing and counting people. Air quality, temperature and humidity on the other hand are located inside the new Webex Room Navigator, on the table, and closer to where people are sitting, hence reporting conditions as they are experienced by people themselves.

Sensor Information in Navigator
Fig 4: The sensor information displayed in a Navigator on a custom panel
Sensing capabilities supported in Webex Devices
Fig 5: Sensing capabilities supported in Webex Devices

 

In the past, organizations concerned with environment health and space optimization invested in sensors for the workplace, but for many, the cost of acquisition, integration, licenses, and maintenance was often a deterrent. With Webex Devices, rooms enabled with collaboration technology now double as a smart sensors hub and provide the analytics and insights you need to continuously monitor and optimize spaces.

Webex Devices have sensors built-in, securely reporting on your network and into a dashboard — so don’t wait, get to your Webex Control Hub now and watch those Workspaces in action.

To learn more about sensors and analytics, read The Collaboration How-To Guide for the Hybrid Workplace.

Learn more

Innovations from Webex Experts: Making Devices even better

Securing users and devices in Webex

Cleaning shared touch-screen devices

Still need help?

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Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

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Webex video conferencing meeting with colleagues using Webex Devices
Innovations from Webex Experts: Making Devices even better

The Webex Ambassadors Program is a global community of Webex loyalists who receive custom Webex learning paths to help further their careers, earn rewards, and influence the future of collaboration. Our Webex Experts are a top-tier group of members who offer thought leadership and act as counsel to our product and customer adoption teams. In this series, we’ll explore their contributions to the Webex ecosystem and hopefully inspire you to do more than you ever imagined possible with Webex. 

Webex Expert Bobby McGonigle makes using Devices easy 

As an introvert, I never expected to be as active in the Webex Community as I am. Once I got involved, I learned so much from other members, but I also enjoyed addressing challenges, building knowledge of new use cases, and practicing developing in the Macro Editor.

Before I became a Webex Expert, I began my career as a video conferencing service technician in 2017 with a mere three months of IT experience. I worked previously at a local grocery store as a deli clerk for seven years but landed a great internship, which landed me my current role.

At the time, we had approximately 200 Cisco endpoints online, half of which were online at the medical school while the other half were scattered throughout campus. Since then, we have added nearly 200 more Room Devices and within Central IT/Admin, I have personally installed nearly 60 percent of those new systems—jumping from 12 to 130 systems. We also have 13 other schools that are implementing their own projects.

As we continued to grow, my team’s ability to support users became less manageable. We were a small but mighty team of three, but we were never able to get our users to get through training. Instead of scheduling further training, I made it so easy for users to use the rooms that absolutely no training would be required.

How? I taught myself how to write JavaScript and how to use the new Macro Editor, which allowed me to fix common issues. This gave my team the freedom to dive into higher priority tasks. When the Macro Editor was first released in CE9.2, I didn’t know how to code, so I self-taught myself on my train commute every morning and evening. This is how I was able to create new and better experiences for our user community.

Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to overcomes was teaching users the difference between a telephony number and a SIP address in Webex invites. Users thought the call button was for traditional phone numbers (no matter how many times we explained that it was for both). To address this issue, I created a school-wide macro—the Launch Meeting button—that matched the users’ expectations when they entered a room.

When users selected the Launch Meeting button, they were greeted with an option that only required the meeting ID. The @so&so.com was added automatically. Students either had a Webex link or an invite from a different solution, but they were all able to join meetings without issue. After implementing this solution, I shared it with Webex Experts and published my work on Github so anyone could use my code. I even made one that works on 80+ Sx10’s, even though the Macro Editor doesn’t exist on those systems.

Computer set up with devices
Enrico’s USB lab

Another project I worked on, and one of my favorites, is my Tic Tac Toe game. It shows how you can use macros to change the user interface dynamically to help streamline the user experience. All collaboration doesn’t need to be solely work-related; building relationships with colleagues is just as important, so I wanted to create a game for coworkers to enjoy together in a conference room.

Now that I have a few projects under my belt, I have started working with Cisco’s very own Enrico Condedera on his Project USB. We have learned from fellow experts like Jordan Eliason and his USB Dante project for the Room Kit Mini and John Austin, which has led us to make a few revisions to our own project. I have also been asked by Dustin Baker of the Webex Devices team to contribute a Join Zoom example to Cisco’s Devnet.

I have learned so much as a Webex Expert, but what I really value is the ability to give back. I have been able to do so not only in my professional role, but also in the community I have built with fellow experts, Webex product teams, and everyone else using Webex Devices. It has been such a fulfilling and fun experience.

Enrico Conedera, Webex TME, partners with Bobby to improve products at scale

I couldn’t help but laugh when I learned that Bobby’s work experience was primarily as a deli clerk. My first real job was as a Pest Control Field Representative, also known as an exterminator. I single-handedly fought off all the cockroaches of Santa Monica. Once I got sick of the cockroaches, I began working with Cisco. I came in from the audiovisual side, sneaking in with the Tandberg acquisition. With so many smart network people around, I had to up my game.

As a technical marketing engineer (TME), a big part of my job revolves around ensuring that our products are usable in the field. When COVID-19 hit, video collaboration changed seemingly overnight. Suddenly, every conferencing provider was busy, and everyone needed to collaborate visually. The result? Rapid growth of island technologies that don’t actually talk to each other. For example, Zoom users can’t talk to Microsoft Teams users or BlueJeans users. Pexip and others like it had already specialized in acting as gateways between these islands, but with COVID, Cisco Webex users were getting invited to meetings on other conference services and couldn’t attend.

Until very recently, we existed primarily in a world where we could interoperate with other video conferencing manufacturers like Poly or Lifesize, using standards from the ITU-T and IEEE. The need to be able to meet with customers, partners, and supply chain organizations, became even more critical. Our solutions needed to be easy to meet regardless of the conferencing solution.

To solve for this, Eivind Fiane Christensen and other product managers brought together people from many different disciplines within Cisco to design a new product, the Room Kit Mini. The ability to join any other conferencing provider while using the Room Kit Mini’s intelligent camera and beam-forming mic array was a major requirement for launch. This feature, known as USB Passthrough, was a big step in the right direction.

Existing Room Kits didn’t have the hardware capability for the USB Passthrough, so I looked into the Vaddio AV Bridge product set. I wasn’t too familiar with it, but I was somewhat certain that I could hook it up to a Room Kit Pro and have that same feature: the ability to use your laptop to connect to Zoom while using SpeakerTrack, PresenterTrack, all the microphones and loudspeakers, and the screens that were already part of the Room Kit Pro installation. I then realized that I could do this with all of the Room Kit endpoints. That was a cool moment.

While it took me a while to figure out how to do this, I got it working manually by running API commands one by one to reconfigure the systems to work while I needed it for the USB Passthrough. All I needed was a macro to automate everything. But how? I don’t know how to write macros.

I reached out in a Webex Teams space that I had created to see if anyone could help me write the macro and that’s how I met Bobby. I knew what the macro needed to do, and he knew how to write the macro to do everything required. JavaScript is fussy, but Bobby made it look so easy.

It didn’t take long for us to release a V1 of the macro. It worked remarkably well and has enabled ease of use for third-party USB capture devices for our catalog of video endpoints. This technology even works with some of Cisco’s older products, like the MX700, MX800, and SX80. In our V2, it will include more options for third-party USB capture devices and more documentation on setup and usage.

The most difficult part of the whole process was configuring the software application to use the correct USB camera and microphones but knowing that I have Webex Experts like Bobby eases my mind. Our experts help us solve problems like this so much faster.

Enrico's science project for a passive USB gateway
Enrico’s science project for a passive USB gateway

In closing

Some of our very best ideas come directly from the Webex Community. We evangelize our Webex Ambassadors to crowdsource solutions to common problems and to share use cases and challenges. We cannot overstate the value our Webex Experts (like Bobby McGonigle) provide by creating integrations and co-creating solutions alongside Cisco. Join the USB project with Enrico and Bobby here

If you love finding solutions to problems and want to join an incredible group of talented Webex fanatics, enroll early in our Webex Ambassadors Program. Level up your knowledge. Your network. Your voice.

About the authors 

Enrico Conedera

Enrico is a senior engineer in the CTG Business Unit at Cisco Systems.
He has worked in the audio-visual field for over 30 years, for companies such as Electronic Arts, PictureTel, Polycom, MCI, and Tandberg. Having been with Cisco for fifteen years, he concentrates on Cisco Best Practices for Audio Visual Integration.
A former professional musician, he is a singer / songwriter, plays piano, and runs sound for live concerts.

Bobby McGonigle

Bobby McGonigle

Bobby McGonigle: Bobby has been a Webex Expert since 2019. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.

Learn more

Webex technology ecosystem – The gold standard for video conference experiences with Webex devices

Securing users and devices in Webex

Cleaning shared touch-screen devices

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Doctor using device standing in a hallway
How can screen sharing be used in healthcare?

Screen sharing in healthcare

Healthcare and wellness have always been among the most promising use cases for screen sharing, video conferencing, and real-time collaboration technologies. As long ago as 1996, in the influential David Foster Wallace novel “Infinite Jest,” the near future was imagined as a time when half of the population worked from home, relying on a combination of high-speed internet and “screens so high-def you might as well be there” to partake in many daily activities, including exercise and interactions with healthcare professionals.

In the real world, modern telehealth isn’t so different from that fictional portrayal. It connects patients and providers regardless of their respective locations via high-quality video and audio links. Moreover, demand for telehealth has increased dramatically since 2010 as hospitals and doctor’s offices have sought to expand their reach and make life easier for patients. The American Hospital Association found that the share of its members offering telehealth services more than doubled between 2010 and 2017, from 35% to 76%.

What does telehealth look like in practice? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described three main modalities of telehealth: synchronous (e.g., real-time collaboration), asynchronous (for instance, using a store-and-forward portal to upload images for later evaluation), and remote patient monitoring (RPM) via specialized sensors and other equipment. In this post, we’ll look primarily at synchronous telehealth, particularly the use of screen sharing to augment an audio or video consultation.

The versatility of screen sharing in healthcare

In general, screen sharing is the go-to mode of collaboration for use cases such as:

  • Walking a meeting’s attendees through a slide deck or other document point by point.
  • Demonstrating an in-depth workflow, such as how to use a certain application or operating system feature.
  • Coediting a document in real time, with audio, video, and textual feedback integrated into one convenient interface.

For healthcare in particular, the use of screen sharing is somewhat similar — it’s still a way to provide real-time explanations, supported by documents — but it’s also different in important ways.

For example, the classic slide presentation so prevalent in other contexts is useful here, but it often takes a back seat to other formats. Health-oriented screen sharing is frequently focused on the exchange of other types of documents and information, such as test results, medical charts, images, and treatment protocols. Rather than having to go into a physical office to access and talk about these assets, all interactions can be done via screen sharing software, in high detail and in real time.

train healthcare staff

This setup supports more efficient patient-provider interactions, as well as enhanced collaboration between healthcare professionals themselves, who may use a screen share platform to exchange observations and notes. The numerous features available in modern screen sharing solutions — including HD video, enterprise-grade security, and meeting recording — make these applications suitable for:

  • Virtual consultations.
  • Training and education sessions.
  • RPM and other remote treatments.
  • Annotations.

Let’s examine each of these forms of collaboration in more detail to see how they work in practice.

Virtual consultations

Connecting with a provider via screen share has been a breakthrough for patients who are located very far from the nearest provider or are otherwise limited in their access, for instance because of an epidemic that makes in-person trips inadvisable. A screen share can add important context to these meetings. A physician might use the screen sharing functionality of the meeting software to show a patient a list of steps to take for their condition, like medication options.

A similar workflow can also improve internal collaboration for providers such as hospital systems. More specifically, assets like X-rays and biopsy results may be screen shared via special internet-connected medical equipment, so that teams can make informed decisions without having to coordinate their schedules for in-person meetings.

doctor in front of computer gesturing with hands

Training and education sessions

Screen sharing has always been a prime format for delivering how-tos and instructional guidance, and healthcare is no exception. By setting up a screen share, groups of nearly any size — from a small team to an entire facility’s staff — can connect in real time to see and listen to a presentation.

This setup saves everyone a trip to a physical location. The ability to record screen-share sessions and distribute them later via email or chat also makes screen sharing a great vehicle for continuing medical education and certification.

RPM and other remote treatments

The RPM market is growing rapidly. Worth $15.8 billion in 2017, it is projected to almost double in value by 2023, to $31.3 billion, according to one assessment from Research and Markets. Typically, RPM happens in the background of a patient’s daily life. Devices such as continuous glucose monitors and physical activity trackers collect and transmit information. In turn, this data offers important insights into the current states of a patient’s conditions and which, if any, treatments make sense.

A screen share can be a useful addition to an RPM regimen. A patient might show their mobile device’s screen to a provider so that they can see the complete results from a relevant app. Screen sharing platforms usually offer flexible sharing options, letting participants show their entire screens, a chosen app, or a selected window or tab.

patient using phone and showing screen

A full screen share may be the best option in some cases, but it comes with a few risks, including information leakage and possible disruptions from notifications. Since compliance must always be top of mind in healthcare contexts, every screen share should be carefully managed.

Annotations

Coediting is a top use case for screen sharing overall. For healthcare workers specifically, the real-time characteristics of screen share software make it possible to synchronously annotate images and other documents instead of doing so asynchronously via other channels. This workflow can allow for better clarity and fewer miscommunications.

With screen share software like Webex, your healthcare organization can ensure high-quality connections from anywhere.

Learn more by getting started for free today.

Learn more

Screen sharing how-to guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

Personalize your team meetings with these top four screen sharing features

Why screen sharing works better for sales than traditional conference calls

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Best Practices: How to Work Remotely [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

 

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Webex technology ecosystem – The gold standard for video conference experiences with Webex Devices

Overview 

With so many 3rd party integration options in the video conference marketit can be hard to know at a glance what the best product integration is. What are the best room booking applications out there? What is the best LCD display that works well with Webex Devices? 

Here in Oslo, Norway, not only do we have Red Dot award-winning devices, we are also building the best meeting experiences through our new Webex Technology Ecosystem program – technically certifying partner integrations for Webex Devices. Our open platform allows our technology partners to create integrations to the Webex Platform to best solve customer use-cases. In order to provide the highest levels of security and best end-user experiences, the Webex Technology Ecosystem Program was created to validate third parties that their integration is adhering to our security, user experience, and supported API methods. In addition, the benefits of certifications include an online community and Cisco product team support, validated tests done by a 3rd party firm, AVDR, and overall helping drive down integration costs. 

We launched two logo tier designations to certifications:    

  • Webex Certified  A third party solution that has achieved the most stringent of all testing by the Webex Device Business Unit. 
  • Webex Compatible – A third party solution that meets the minimum requirements for integration.

Moving forward, there will also be a third-tier for certification which will be a self-supported knowledge base community that will soon launch on the Cisco Webex Communities portal.   

Cisco approved products & vendors 

Below you will find the solutions that have achieved certification status. Currently, there are only two Certified categories: Displays and Intelligent Workplaces. The other categories will only have Compatible logo status. As we progress, we aim at adding more categories and technology partner solutions to the Certified logo. 

Webex Device certified and compatible categories 

  • Cameras 
  • Content Experiences 
  • Collaborative Workplace 
  • Displays* 
  • Easy Join Services 
  • Intelligent Workplace* 
  • Room Booking 
  • Team Communications 
  • Workplace Analytics 

*Webex Certified logo categories 

Some of the partner solutions shown are also part of the Cisco Solutions Plus partnership program.  If you want to know more details of the certified partner solutions and categories, please visit: http://cs.co/certifiedvendors 

Certification process 

Below is the certification application journey for the Webex Technology Ecosystem for Webex Devices. As you can see it is a multi-step process to onboard. 

If you are a vendor seeking to join the Webex Technology Ecosystem program, please visit this link. 


Additional Resources 

For Customers:
Cisco Webex Integration Partners
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collaboration/webex-rooms-integrations.html
Webex Devices Certification Vendor List
https://cs.co/certifiedvendors

For 3rd Party Vendors:
Webex Devices Certification Application
http://cs.co/webexcertapplication
Webex for Startups Program
http://cs.co/webexforstartups
Developer Resources
https://developer.cisco.com/site/roomdevices
https://developer.webex.com 

Resources

Switch to the new Webex app

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man on a computer in his living room
How to co-edit using screen sharing

What do you most closely associate with screen sharing?

Perhaps the inescapable phrase, “Can everyone see my screen?” is the first thing to spring to mind, or maybe you recall all the slide deck walk-throughs you sat through in the past. But with the right software, screen sharing can be much more convenient and versatile than either of those associations would imply.

In a screen sharing solution, you can also synchronously coedit documents, which is a major upgrade from the old back-and-forth of exchanging emails and navigating through tracked changes. By taking advantage of the real-time collaboration features of screen sharing software, workers in and out of the office can more easily get on the same page, understand feedback, and produce an agreed-upon version of the assets in question.

How does coediting work on a screen share platform?

Screen sharing is a great opportunity for all participants in the session to see and contribute to a document at the same time. The workflow itself will vary based on the platform being used, but generally the process is pretty straightforward:

  1. The presenter pulls up a text document, spreadsheet, presentation, or other asset (e.g., a code repository) on their device.
  2. They then share it with the others in the meeting, either by sharing their entire screen or just that particular piece of content.
  3. The presenter can take feedback from viewers on what needs to be changed or added. Alternatively, multiple participants can pull up the same document, like a file in SharePoint Online or Google Drive, and work on it in parallel during the meeting.
  4. After the screen share session ends, the meeting organizer can send a recording of it to everyone. They can also re-share the edited document in a messaging channel such as Webex Teams and, with the right permissions enabled, have it open in an appropriate application for further work.

In some cases, a team may choose only to perform the fourth step, opting to do all edits outside of a dedicated meeting with a screen share session. However, there are some distinct advantages to setting up a screen share, especially as more workers begin operating outside of traditional corporate offices.

Why should you use a screen share for coediting?

Screen sharing isn’t just for presenting or lecturing. As a form of real-time collaboration, it’s also a great forum for exchanging ideas and implementing feedback. Let’s dig into some of the specific reasons for editing via a free screen share:

Fewer runarounds and delays

We mentioned emails and documents with tracked changes earlier, as both are staples of most modern editing workflows. Even when someone makes a small update to a shared Google Doc, for instance, contributors usually find out via an email. Keeping track of everything can be taxing. McKinsey & Company has estimated that professionals spend 28% of their time each week on email.

Screen sharing can simplify the editing workflow, in turn reducing the amount of email to sort through. Meeting participants can see the latest changes and suggestions being made in real time and ask questions on the spot, instead of needing to request clarification later or search their inbox for the right version to follow.

Integrated audio and video

Sometimes it can feel like you’re stuck or at a loss for how to proceed with a document, whether it’s a heavily edited version of a PDF or something like a repository of computer code in need of some big updates. This situation can lead to setting up a separate call to go through the next steps — but why not eliminate this extra stage and get direct guidance while you have your collaborators on the line?

In a screen share, you can do more than just share content. You can also interact via high-quality audio and video, allowing for more nuanced communications than email exchanges would ever enable. The integrated video, audio, and content sharing in a platform like Webex makes it easier to avoid subsequent rounds of edits and costly miscommunications.

An officelike experience from any location

Opening up a document to begin applying edits or comments, or to accept or reject someone else’s, can feel very impersonal. If you’re working remotely, it can seem like you’re on an island, far removed from what everyone else is thinking and doing.

Indeed, loneliness is a frequently cited challenge among telecommuters, being at the top of the list of remote work challenges in a 2020 Buffer survey. But with a screen share, workers can feel like they’re all together collaborating in the same space, even if they’re still physically far apart:

  • The screen share itself can simulate the feeling of a presentation or conference room discussion.
  • The high-quality audio allows participants to discuss feedback and changes as they happen.
  • Video can allow for additional clarity, for example in the form of a visual demo or simply through a presenter’s body language and reactions.

Upgrade your screen sharing experience

Screen sharing is a versatile mode of collaboration, with utility far beyond the standard slide-based presentation.

Get started with Webex for free today

Learn more

Screen sharing how-to guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

Personalize your team meetings with these top four screen sharing features

Why screen sharing works better for sales than traditional conference calls

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Best Practices: How to Work Remotely [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
Healthcare and cyber security
What healthcare providers should do this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Challenges for healthcare providers

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) each year in the U.S. The 2020 edition is the 17th annual NCSAM, and although it continues a long tradition of attempting to boost public awareness of common threats — this year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart”* — it’s also an occasion unlike any of its predecessors, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The stakes for effective cybersecurity have risen dramatically as a result of the outbreak, as more day-to-day work has moved beyond traditional corporate campuses and into remote workspaces. End-users connecting to company applications from personal devices still need the robust security protections and dependable performance they got in the office, except now within the scaled-down IT environment of the home — a tricky needle to thread without solutions such as SD-WAN and secure video and audio conferencing in place.

Telework for healthcare workers

For healthcare workers in particular, the overall challenge of telework is even tougher. Applicable U.S. regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) complicate the flow of information between remote sites. Moreover, the healthcare sector as a whole has historically been slow to take up remote work due to a combination of practical considerations related to patient care, liability considerations, and technological limitations.

However, these hurdles can be overcome with the right combination of tools and strategy.

What remote work challenges do healthcare workers face?

Hospitals, physician offices, clinics, and other healthcare providers must deliver high-quality care while keeping everyone as safe as possible. That, in turn, requires mitigating a variety of risks related to remote work, including:

HIPAA compliance

As the initial pandemic grew, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights relaxed its enforcement of HIPAA noncompliance penalties* for activities such as video conferencing. Still, this was a temporary and discretionary measure. In the long term, healthcare organizations will need to balance the flexibility of remote work with the strictures of HIPAA, particularly when delivering telehealth services.

Healthcare providers must still comply with HIPAA regardless of where their workforces are actually located. In the past, organizations have been found liable for HIPAA violations related to the improper disclosure of protected health information (PHI) by remote workers, according to a Middle Tennessee State University professor interviewed by Relias Media. Avoiding these penalties requires assiduously tracking and controlling who has remote access to critical systems, which brings us to our next issue.*

Remote telehealth worker

Technology

More remote work means heavier utilization of virtual private network (VPN) licenses for secure access. All VPNs in use by a healthcare organization should be scaled to meet current usage, as well as properly updated and patched. Chances are that any existing VPN implementation will need to be greatly expanded and more carefully managed than in the past.

Likewise, the expansion of both remote work sites and temporary facilities (e.g., outdoor tent deployments) by healthcare providers means that their WANs must handle more traffic than ever before, and from a wider variety of locations and clients. Additional infrastructure and bandwidth may be needed, alongside a possible upgrade to an SD-WAN architecture that delivers performance and security far beyond what a conventional MPLS WAN offers. Check out more information on Video conference with security you can trust

Cybersecurity

Speaking of security, healthcare organizations have always been among the most common targets of cyberattacks, and the shift to telecommuting has only worsened this long-standing problem. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which sponsors NCSAM, identified the rise of advanced persistent threats* looking to harvest sensitive data from providers.

With more systems hosted in the cloud and remotely accessible via an Internet Protocol network, measures such as two-factor authentication (2FA) are pivotal. Implementing 2FA plus appropriate anti-malware and network security protections will help shield PHI from unauthorized access.

What can healthcare providers do to stay safer?

Fending off security threats while maintaining HIPAA compliance and meeting end-user needs is a complicated balancing act. But it’s not impossible. Let’s explore some concrete steps that healthcare firms can take toward safer, more scalable operations.

1) Educate and train staff

Many workers, especially in healthcare, have not routinely worked remotely in the past, meaning that they may need hands-on guidance during the transition. More specifically, it’s critical to remind everyone that regulations such HIPAA apply regardless of location and that remote work environments are prone to a unique set of cybersecurity risks.

It’s prudent to provide a detailed remote work policy with clear protocols about which video and audio conferencing services to use for telehealth and for internal communications, how to avoid common cybersecurity threats, and what to keep in mind regarding regulatory compliance (e.g., is PHI exposed on a desktop during a screen share?). Here are Best practices for clinicians using video conferencing

train healthcare staff

2) Shore up security infrastructure

While VPNs are integral to remote work security in particular, they’re not the only critical components of cybersecurity posture. Healthcare firms should also keep an eye on:

  • Identity and access management (IAM): Who is authorized to access critical resources, and in which ways? Mission-critical platforms like electronic health records solutions are often accessed beyond the provider’s main network, but must be tightly secured via IAM measures for strong authentication and role-based access.
  • Encryption: Data at rest and in transit should be encrypted as needed, both to prevent interception and to maintain HIPAA compliance. While encryption isn’t required by the HIPAA Security Rule, using it is often the most practical way to safely and compliantly transmit health information.
  • Patch management: VPNs, security software and other applications and services must be kept up to date, in order to avoid the exploitation of any known vulnerabilities.
  • SD-WAN: An SD-WAN solution can provide edge network security that connects end users to cloud applications without compromising user experience.

3) Use secure communications platforms

Video conferencing and VoIP, among other applications, play pivotal parts in enabling telehealth. Any such solution must not only provide high quality picture and sound, but also be strengthened against a variety of cybersecurity threats.

Advanced meeting controls, data encryption, and secure supporting data center infrastructure are all vital to effective remote collaboration in this context. With Webex, you can get a safe and productive experience.

Learn more by getting started with a free offer today.

Sources

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart

Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During COVID-19

APT Hackers Targeting Healthcare, Essential Services Amid COVID-19

HIPAA Compliance a Concern as Working from Home Becomes Norm

Learn more

Preparing for screen sharing: How to reduce risk when sharing your screen 

Healthcare Cybersecurity: What’s at Stake?

Securing Internet- Connected Devices in the New Era of Healthcare

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Preparing for screen sharing: How to reduce risk when sharing your screen

Reducing the risk of delays when sharing your screen

As more workers move outside of traditional offices, they’re also outgrowing the collaboration tools that were once staples of those environments, namely email and in-person meetings. Taking the place of those modes of communication are newer forms of teamwork, centered on real-time services for voice, video , and screen sharing.

The screen share in particular is a vital replacement for the old workflow of gathering everyone into a room and turning on a projector to walk them through a slide deck or other asset. But it’s not without its potential complications. Distractions, technical hiccups, or simply choosing confusingly designed software can waste a lot of time.

What can you do to reduce the risk of delays when sharing your screen? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options for leading a more focused session. Let’s look at some of the most dependable tips for a risk-free screen share.

Share just one window or application

Sharing your entire screen probably feels like the easiest and most practical way to lead a screen share, and in some cases, it is. For example, if you’re leading an in-depth demonstration of how to use a certain built-in feature in macOS or Microsoft Windows, then sharing the full desktop is logical, as you’ll need to walk the audience through where to find everything.

However, this type of screen sharing can also be risky, since it puts everything into public view. Watchers may be able to see what’s on your desktop, notifications from your apps, and even sensitive information like login credentials if you open your password manager.

To avoid these pitfalls, consider sharing just one application or desktop at a time. This way, you limit what can be seen while still being able to share the content you need to show. Webex Teams makes it straightforward to select which screen or app to show at any time.

Take advantage of meeting controls

Your screen share is going great — and then someone strange joins the meeting and starts talking or trying to show their own screen or video feed. Such disruptions have become more common as remote work in general and video conferencing applications in particular have both risen in popularity.

For this reason, it’s important to use built-in meeting controls to keep proceedings on track with as few distractions as possible. Some of the most important practices include:

  • Enforce password entry: Make sure to enable password requirements as needed to reduce the risk of unauthorized logins.
  • Lock the meeting once everyone is in it: Similarly, you can prevent anyone else from joining by locking the session. If you need to let legitimate attendees in later, you can unlock temporarily.
  • Control who the presenter is: As the host, you have the power to change the presenter or reclaim the role for yourself at any time.
  • Mute audio: Is someone’s excessive background noise making the screen share unbearable? Curbing it is as simple as using a mute button to silence their audio.

Turn off notifications

Notifications are important, but they can usually wait until after the screen share is over. A notification that arrives in the middle of a screen share can not only be a huge distraction, but a data leakage risk as well.

Think about all the notifications related to sensitive matters like one-time login codes and two-factor authentication, as well as online purchases, and personal messages. If they’re not turned off, you’re rolling the dice each time you lead a screen share.

Notifications can be turned off systemwide or app-by-app on all modern operating systems. Once the screen share is over, you can easily re-enable them.

Organize desktop and browser appearance

A disorganized desktop or a browser with a bunch of tabs open can be much more than an eyesore — it can also be a data security hazard, for the same reasons as unchecked notifications. A stray tab or document can divulge sensitive information. Plus, in the case of the browser, it can take a toll on system performance, too.

Consider cleaning up your desktop prior to leading a screen share. This can be as simple as using a feature like Stacks in macOS, or just creating a separate clean desktop on Windows and then presenting from there.

Fine-tune application performance

Screen sharing is a real-time process, making technical performance paramount. Software for screen sharing is usually well optimized for displaying the presenter’s screen and video, but multiple issues are still possible and can affect the presentation.

To get the best possible performance, first consider closing any unneeded applications and background processes, as the ongoing syncing of cloud services like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive can consume a lot of bandwidth. Also make sure you’re close enough to your Wi-Fi router or access point, or have an Ethernet connection set up for the most reliable connectivity.

Get started with better screen sharing in Webex

Webex provides an immersive screen sharing experience that lets you connect with as many, or as few, participants as you need to and lead them through a crystal-clear presentation.

To try it for yourself, get started for free today.

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