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Natural England Uses New Media to Set Green Example

By: NMK Created on: June 26th, 2009
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The UK Government’s independent adviser on wildlife and the natural environment used new media to bring 2,500 of its employees together at its recent annual conference, reducing potential carbon emissions as a result. New Media Knowledge looks at the potential future of ‘green’ conferencing.

Natural England is the UK Government’s independent adviser on protecting wildlife and the environment. At its recent annual conference, it looked to reduce its own carbon footprint by bringing together its 2,500 employees together without the impact on the environment of staff traversing the country to descend on one location.

Seven venues were selected across the UK to host the conference simultaneously using videoconferencing, the Internet and bespoke audience engagement technology to provide a real time event. All delegates were able to see and hear each other, watch presentations and ask questions to keynote speakers regardless of location.

The event specialist behind the conference was The Live Group, whose GreenGage tool was used to create the virtual conference. NMK caught up with the company’s managing director, Toby Lewis, to find out more about the technology and its potential use to shape the future of conferencing.

greengage

What is GreenGage?

GreenGage is a sustainable communication technology. It joins together new media and audience engagement tools to power remote and seamless multi-way dialogue in 21st century conference, roadshow or boardroom settings. It enables remote delegate attendance at events via videoconferencing and the Web, plus it encourages greater interaction to share opinions and best practice through audience engagement tools.

GreenGage also extends the lifespan of an event as delegates can log on to a networking portal before and after an event. This means that event managers can assess delegate responses and expectations before the event has started, enabling events to ‘hit the ground running’ and shaping agendas beforehand. The delegate management element also drives the exchange of best practice long after the event has closed, sharing ideas and facilitating post-event analysis and evaluation.

Will this really catch on and, if so, why? How are you measuring the success of it?

Use of video conferencing is already on the increase, with reports that sales leapt by around a third between 2007 and 2008. This figure is set to rise again this year, and companies are seeing the benefits of using unified communications, such as webcasting and voting systems as a means to reduce travel time and increase engagement and motivation for events of all scales.

Using GreenGage, Natural England reported a 31 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint compared to the previous year’s event. It achieved this by splitting its 2,500 employees over seven locations. Event delegates have less distance to travel using this system and less time out of the office, which is key during economic downturn. The combined pressures of green legislation and the recession also mean that GreenGage is an attractive choice for businesses looking for sustainable as well as cost effective ways to run events.

How committed is the UK Government to using technology to cut emissions?

The UK Government challenged businesses to cut their emissions through the Carbon Reduction Commitment. This legislation aims to reduce carbon emissions in large organisations by 1.2 million tonnes of carbon per year. In this year’s budget the Government built on this framework to announce that an extra £1.4 billion would be committed to reducing carbon emissions.

Focus on technology to cut emissions in the public sector was detailed in ‘Greening Government ICT’, 2008, which was issued to outline the need for public sector bodies to use technology in a more sustainable manner. The UK Government is taking a leading role on stalling climate change, and technology is a great enabler in working towards its goals.

We’d expect this kind of thing from an environmental agency, but how do you convince mainstream business?

Businesses are already seeing that by reducing travel and overnight stays through the use of video conferencing they can slash carbon footprints. By incorporating powerful audience engagement technology and the Web, they can also generate greater motivation and interaction in situations where delegates are brought together remotely. As the recession continues, cutting expenditure on travel and accommodation makes clever use of technology an even more compelling option.

Businesses will embrace these new technologies because they still need to train and look after employees. Additionally, where job cuts have taken effect the remaining employees are picking up extra tasks with less time and budget available. Providing the means to hold events in local areas or even assist staff by enabling them to take part from their desks helps to restore the vital work/life balance. We have already had many enquiries from FTSE 100 companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) about the use of sustainable communication for leadership meetings or company conferences.

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