Frontline Initiative Teamwork

Virtual Team Building:
Reinventing the Way We Work


Dr. Pamela Baker is the executive director of the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach. Mississippi

The South Mississippi Regional Center made history this season with the debut of its video conferencing system. The system is the first multi-site communications technology in use by any Mississippi government agency. DSPs at South Mississippi Regional Center (SMRC) which provides comprehensive service options for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities who reside in the six southernmost counties of the state now have the opportunity to participate in cyber team building activities and training.

This system provides an “almost like being there” link between SMRC’s main campus at Long Beach and outlying program sites. The convenient size of the hardware, roughly the size of a regular PC and monitor with a small camera mounted on top, fits easily into any office. The equipment is user-friendly, similar to making a telephone call with the added feature of viewing callers in color at each site. The system has a “chat room” feature, which allows participants to send messages that are visible at the other sites. Other collaborative features of the equipment make it possible for users to work together on written documents and joint projects.

As SMRC continues to expand services, the agency’s need for cyber-teamwork and collaboration along with real time, cutting edge training also grows. The system is the centerpiece of the agency’s networking and continuous learning experiences. With desktop video conferencing, staff who are located at sites several hours from the main campus are connected and able to fully participate in training activities without leaving their worksite. This system will accrue immediate savings in time and money, while still allowing DSPs to maintain required training hours and the opportunity to take advantage of additional training opportunities available via downlinked programs.