MNET Services>Telecom Video>Video Conferencing>Collaboration

General Requirements for State/County Collaboration Video Conference Sites

This document is provided to counties considering the development of video conference centers as part of the Telecommunications Collaboration Project. It provides general requirements for the set up and operations of a collaboration project video conference center. Counties may elect to develop a video facility at their own expense, if they are unable to meet these general requirements.

  • Counties are not required to establish video rooms as part of their participation in the project. The project focuses on leveraging data networking service needs among state and county partners in the project and a video center need not be established to participate in the project.
  • Counties that choose to establish collaboration video rooms will find it necessary to:
    • Implement access for state data services on county-run LANs prior to or at the same time as the development of the county's video conference center,
    • Meet MN.IT Distance Meeting Service (DMS) video service requirements for video conferencing equipment and maintenance plans (detailed in separate documents),
    • Provide adequate staffing to provide quality support services to all video customers using their site.
  • Counties with collaboration video sites will need to operate under the following event support guidelines.
    • Counties will support state partners' requests for county video room access. Counties should make reasonable efforts to accommodate state partners' access requests.
    • Counties will not charge a video site room rental fee to a remote state partner for a video event if there is a mutual interest between the county and state partners in the content of the event. Any charges must be mutually agreed upon at the time of booking the video event. Typically, if a representative of the county were a local participant in the event, then there would be a mutual interest.
    • Counties may choose to charge a discounted room rental fee of $35 per hour (FY98 rate) to the state partner if the county has no interest in the content of the event. Room rental charges are optional at the county's discretion. Room rental fees will be billed by MN.IT and credited to the county's monthly invoice.
    • Counties may choose to charge the discounted room rental fee ($35) to a state partner who does not have a video room of their own, or is using a county site in lieu of their own to host a video event.
    • Counties are strongly encouraged to make their rooms available for events to other government and educational users and at the county's option, may use standard room rental rates ($65 per hour) for these events.

Video Conference Operational Guidelines for County Sites

This section expands upon the above general requirements for state/county collaboration video conference sites. The collaboration project provides counties with wide-area networking services for data and video connections. Video conference facilities established under the collaboration project should be developed as a countywide resource, which can be funded by county, cost savings and program improvements.

County video facilities should be available for a range of uses and users both within county government and with the public sector in the region. These guidelines present the development and accessibility requirements for county video conference sites participating in this program.

As part of this project, each county partner is responsible for contributing $300 per month towards the recurring expense of these network services; this amount represents between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the total recurring network expense. The remaining wide-area networking expenses are paid by state agency partners. One-time installation charges are also shared among state and county partners. Counties choosing to develop a video conference center are responsible for the cost of building and operating county video conference room facilities.

Counties establishing a video conference center will need to:

  • Select a room location (or multiple locations) and create an operating policy for the rooms that allows for access to all county divisions and local collaboration project state agency partners.
  • Buy and maintain a video conference room system(s) approved for use as an MN.IT Distance Meeting Service site.
  • Prepare the room(s) to be used for video conferencing to meet general standards for acoustics, lighting and networking.
  • Designate sufficient staff to support the administration and operations of the video conference center.

Each of these operational guidelines are expanded upon below. Questions regarding these guidelines may be directed to the MN.IT Video Manager.

Video Room Location and Operating Policies

  • It is preferred that county collaboration project video conference rooms be dedicated for use as a video conference room. Video rooms should be capable of supporting a minimum of six local participants in a video event.
  • If it is not possible to designate a dedicated room, a general purpose meeting room can be used, as long as it is not so heavily scheduled (15 hours or more of regular meetings per week) that it is not readily available for video events. It is recommended that specialized rooms (i.e., courtrooms, board rooms) not be used unless these rooms are readily available and adaptable to video conferencing. Video events should take priority over non-video events when a multi-purpose room is used as a video conference center.
  • Video conference rooms should be available for use by all county divisions, and collaboration project member agencies (state agency partners).
  • It is preferred that collaboration project video rooms also be available for rent to any public sector organization.
  • Video rooms will maintain a strict policy of first come-first served in regards to scheduling the county video room for an event. Collaboration project rooms have a No Bumping policy where scheduled events have priority over all other uses. Events should be able to be scheduled up to six months in advance of the event date.
  • Video conference rooms should be generally available during normal business hours, 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday (and excluding public holidays). Multi-purpose video conference rooms should have at least 25 business hours per week of availability for video conferences. Time of day or day of week restrictions not relating to specific, regularly held county meetings should not be set as part of the county's operating policies.
  • Room rental policies
    • In all instances, video conference room rental charges will be negotiated and agreed-to among participants at the time of scheduling video events.
    • Counties should develop a method for covering on-going operating costs for the video center. Costs can be covered as an annual general administrative overhead expense or on a usage by county division. If the county develops an internal bill-back method for cost allocation, it should be administered by the county.
    • Counties should not charge another collaboration project partner room rental fees for a video event if the county has a direct interest and/or participation in the video event.
    • Counties may charge collaboration project partners a reduced room rental rate of $35.00 per hour for video events in which the county has no interest. These room rental charges are optional at the county's discretion will be billed by MN.IT and credited to county monthly invoices.
    • Counties may charge standard room rental rates ($65.00) to any public sector organization that is not a collaboration project partner. These room rental charges are optional at the county's discretion will be billed by MN.IT and credited to county monthly invoices.
    • Counties may choose to charge video conference event charges (per the MN.IT rate schedule) as mutually agreed-to by the participating parties in a video event.

Video Conference Room Systems Guidelines

  • Counties should purchase video conference room systems from an MN.IT-approved list and a state-managed vendor using a state contract.
  • It is advised that video conference room system owners select an annual maintenance agreement from an approved state vendor that provides for software maintenance, and one-day advance parts replacement. Vendors may provide maintenance at various service levels. Video sites without a maintenance contract will be responsible to pay time and materials or possibly replace a whole unit at full cost.

Video Room Facility Guidelines

  • Counties should make reasonable efforts to create a video conference room that is well lit, acoustically quiet, and furnished appropriately for two-way interactive video conferencing technology.
  • Video equipment vendors can provide specific video site recommendations to the county relating to equipment and facility needs. MN.IT will assist in this process.
  • MN.IT can provide the county with background documents on video conference facility guidelines and room layout recommendations.
  • Video conference rooms should met ADA accessibility guidelines.

Staffing and Support Guidelines

  • Counties should designate one or more Room Contact(s), one or more Scheduling Contact(s), one or more Technical Contact(s), and a Billing Contact (see the Roles document) responsible for establishing and operating the video conference site.
  • Counties should designate staffing levels three people deep for the Room, Scheduling, and Technical Contact roles.
  • Counties will ensure that a trained Room Contact is immediately available at all times while an event is in progress.
  • MN.IT will provide training to county personnel responsible for a video site. The video equipment vendor will provide training and support on the operation of county video conference room system hardware.
  • MN.IT will provide sites with best practices documentation as made available by the video services administrative users group.

State Partners in the State/County Collaboration Project

  • Courts
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Economic Security
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Human Services
  • Department of Public Safety, including the BCA and CrimNet
  • Department of Transportation
  • MN.IT
  • Secretary of State