Hillicon Valley got a quick peak at the center Cisco has set up Washington, where members of Congress and federal officials can meet with colleagues and the heads of state from other countries without having to cross the Atlantic. We had a live conversation with Cisco's Laura Ipsen, who leads the company's smart-grid group and was attending meetings in Copenhagen.
She estimates 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon can be avoided by 2020 with the use of technology. Cisco itself has reduced travel by 50 percent, saved $350,000 million and 200,000 metric tons of carbon since starting to use the Telepresence units to conduct company meetings.
The units aren't cheap--they ranged from $80,000 to $300,000 when they were first introduced in 2006. Not to mention the broadband costs. Each plasma screen requires two to four megabits per second of bandwidth. As we've previously reported, Rep. Anna Eschoo (D-Calif.) was interested in getting one of the systems to hold meetings with her Silicon Valley office and constituents. But the broadband costs where prohibitively high. Congressional staffers and members can use Cisco's unit free of charge--at least for the next week.