Session “Distance meetings” at Internetdagarna, Stockholm, 2006

At the session “Distansmöten (eng. Distance meetings)” 11.00 Wednesday 25 October 2006 at the Internetdagarna (eng. internet days conference)” Björn Ohlson from ISOC-SE was moderator.

First speaker was Johnny Widén from CDT at Luleå Technical University who talked about “Nätbaserade möten på SUNET (Eng. Net-based meetings on SUNET)”. Beside of talking about distance meetings he referred to Marratech, an open source software for distance meetings developed at the Luleå Technical University.

80-90% of all personal interaction at a work place are non-planned meetings, according to Johnny. He suggested e-meetings instead of unnecessary travels.
-Don’t just try to imitate physical meetings, instead use the strength of having your computer right in front of you, meant Johnny. You have access to your mail and that would make work more efficient. Physical meetings are overrated. You’re pinioned if you don’t have access to your computer.

IMO laptops at physical meetings often irritates people, even a PDA with digital calender can do that. My boss have said distance meetings can’t replace physical meetings. Yes, but maybe minimize unnecessary travels. Perhaps also maximize communication when meetings that would be necessary is not planned due to travel costs and time though will be planned with help of distance meeting software.

Johnny also mentioned technical problems like firewalls. Often the IT department says they can’t do nothing about it, when they forbid distance meeting software like Skype and Marratech, just because they’re afraid of getting overburdened with work if they say okay.
Annica Bergman, CEO at Dataföreningen, Sweden, had a talk with title: “En distansmötesplats för Dataföreningens medlemmar (eng. An e-meeting place for the for members of Dataföreningen)”. She thought it was good to mix physical meetings with virtual meetings and that virtual meetings lead to more spontaneous meetings. Also good with web cameras to avoid misunderstandings. They use a web-based service for distance meetings at Projectweb.se. That gives them no problems with the IT department concerning firewalls when it’s not a client that has to be installed on the computer. The backend of a web-based service is less functionality.

Lars Johansson at Carelink and Tomas Molén at Västerbottens local council both talked about “Distansmöten inom sjukvården (eng. distance meeting in health care)” [PDF]. Lars has been working as IT manager at for example SPRI but now for Carelink. All councils, municipalities and some private caregivers are members of Carelink. A hospital in Sweden of average size has 3.000 employees and 2.000 computer work stations. Whole Sweden have about 70 average hospitals. But IT in health care is not just about technical matters, it’s a lot about legislations and ethical matters, said Lars. He also mentioned Sjunet – The National IT Infrastructure for Healthcare in Sweden.

Tomas Molén at Vll.se has a background as a medical engineer and works with distance communication issues and telemedicine. Vll.se is an average council with three hospitals in Umeå, Skellefteå and Lycksele. The council want to be able to offer the same health care where ever you live. For example in the mountains in the village Tärnaby who has a lot of tourists it’s about 25 swedish miles to nearest hospital and 40 miles to the university hospital in Umeå with more health care facilities. Vll uses ISDN technique for communication and have about 100 conference systems. They have highly increased use of distance meetings.