Los Angeles Community College District Chooses Lifesize as HD Video Platform; Approved Construction Bond will Fund Network Expansion

The Los Angeles Community College District, America’s largest community college district, has selected Lifesize Communications, the global leader in high definition video communications, as a key technology provider as part of the district’s Energy Strategy Plan. Lifesize video conferencing products is a key component of a long range environmental program to include HD video conferencing as a clean, efficient way for Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) faculty, staff and students to communicate.

“To put it simply,” said LACCD’s Provisional CIO, Jorge Mata, “Lifesize allows us to maximize what good people can do by removing two barriers – distance and time. One day, picking up a video call will be as ubiquitous as picking up a telephone and we are excited to be moving in that direction.”

“The Los Angeles Community College District is at the leading edge of environmental efficiency, and Lifesize is honored to be part of one of the boldest green initiatives in the country,” said Craig Malloy, CEO, Lifesize Communications. “From governments and educational institutions to hospitals and corporations, large organizations everywhere are embracing the Lifesize value proposition to address their HD video communication needs.”

Educating about 220,000 students every year, the LACCD’s scope of operations is immense. The district’s nine campuses are distributed across a service area of more than 882 square miles. The sheer size of the district imposes an additional burden on the system: the cost, time and environmental impact of commuting.

With a heavily dispersed network of decision makers, including the board of trustees, district executives and campus construction project teams, some members were driving upwards of 60 miles or more to attend one meeting. Not only was this practice costly and time-consuming, especially given the unpredictable Los Angeles area traffic, it was certainly not in line with LACCD energy efficiency initiatives.

HD Video as a Green Enabler for Large Enterprises Video communication was not a new idea to LACCD. Standard Definition video systems were implemented in years past, but the technology wasn’t widely accepted. “The older systems really had a negative impact on productivity because the image quality was poor, the motion was jerky and they were not user friendly,” Mata said. “Ultimately, because these systems did not create a natural conversation between locations, they’ve just been gathering dust.”

As part of a comprehensive environmental initiative to take each of the nine LACCD campuses off the energy grid by 2009, district executives directed the development of a long range technology plan to include HD video conferencing as a clean, efficient way to communicate.

LACCD hired Subodh Kumar, IFMA Fellow and President of Chartered Facility Management Group, Inc., a leading strategic consulting firm, to create a technology master plan that would carry the district into the next decade. Kumar and his team held a four month, stringent evaluation of all video conferencing services and created an objective RFP outlining LACCD’s specific needs, including those required by the California Department of Education.

“The Lifesize product and their team ranked best on all criteria of the RFP,” Kumar said. “What makes video conferencing successful is lifelike, accurate, detailed video, natural audio and seamless environments which make participants feel like they are in the same room. Lifesize accomplishes this,” he said.

The LACCD HD network included 23 Lifesize systems, including the Lifesize® Room™ and Lifesize® Express™ products, installed among LACCD’s nine campuses, two satellite locations and executive headquarters. A 24-port Lifesize® Multipoint™ bridge was also installed, along with the Lifesize® Gateway™ product, which delivers ISDN to IP connectivity. Lifesize® Control™ management software and HD document cameras were also part of this implementation phase.

Vizual Symphony, an authorized Lifesize reseller and specialized integrator for high-end, higher education projects, implemented the systems and worked closely with Kumar’s team to create a seamless environment for each site.

Fast Results and a Bright Future “Video meetings are rapidly gaining acceptance,” said Larry Eisenberg, Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Development at LACCD. “We’ve tried the older systems and webcams, but nothing was in real-time. Now, daily face-to-face meetings with district headquarters, which for some took at least an hour each way in travel, are possible with the press of a button. We’re getting our people off the road and increasing productivity.”

And with a recent 17 percent increase in the cost per mile, LACCD can offset its commute miles with even more programs for positive change. And that ensures that the district’s money is going to where it’s needed most – the schools.

Today, the Lifesize video systems are primarily used for executive management team meetings and campus construction project meetings. As for the future, distance learning over video is the goal. A $3.5 billon construction bond, approved by voters on November 4, 2008, includes provisions to expand the district’s HD video network to serve students and faculty.

“With LACCD’s student population on the rise, the need for educators to be ‘in two places at once’ will continue to grow,” said Mata. “At that point, a professor would be able to teach a course at the Los Angeles Harbor College campus, then walk into a designated video room and be projected onto a large screen for students attending classes at Los Angeles Valley College, which is 30 miles and up to two hours away. The new construction bond will allow us to expand our use of HD video, increase education opportunities for students and be green and efficient in the process.”

About Vizual Symphony

Established in 2001, Vizual Symphony is a recognized leader in helping universities, colleges and schools to enrich the classroom learning environment through the use of audiovisual technology. Its management has more than 30 years combined experience in providing standardized, cost effective audiovisual solutions for today’s “Smart Classroom”. The company’s integrated services include design, engineering, project management, installation and service maintenance. For more information about Vizual Symphony, please visit http://www.vizualsymphony.com