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Future Proofing Hybrid Meetings During the Pandemic

Itasca County located in Minnesota is a small-sized locale with just over 45,000 residents. With a county seat located in Grand Rapids, 440 staff members work across various buildings for the county’s Courthouse, Health and Human Services, and more.

The Challenge

Like many other organizations, Itasca County had to quickly pivot its daily activities to accommodate the rapidly-changing work environment. The pandemic drove the county staff to conduct hybrid meetings and virtually share documents instead of traditional, in-person meetings. They discovered that the right technology would only get this done, and seamlessly.

Initially, the pandemic halted in-person meetings. However, business still had to be conducted. The Emergency Operations staff set out to find solutions that paired well with cameras and mics that allowed groups to still meet in a hybrid setting. After seeing a similar product in use at another site, it became evident that Itasca County operations could benefit from interactive displays as well.

There were varying meeting platforms and information sharing systems to juggle. Seemingly overnight, much of their business went virtual overnight! Accommodating all the virtual platforms, sharing information, and meeting in person introduced varying levels of challenges.

The Solution

Itasca County chose the X Series as it had the best value for their needs. Newline’s X Series is a fully unified collaboration system. Essentially every meeting obstacle Itasca faced was addressed by the X Series product design. Users can host hybrid meetings with ease using integrated cameras and microphones. Not to mention, all of Newline’s panels are non-proprietary. If various departments subscribe to different UC clients, the same flawless experience can be leveraged on the X series in each department without a problem.

Document sharing on the X Series is also hybrid workplace friendly. With direct internet access, teams can digitally share meeting files and annotate them on the screen as needed. This assists with clear communication between in-person and virtual meeting attendees.

Newline’s X Series panels also come with an integrated on-board OPS computer. This essentially gives the user full functionality without having to connect to an external laptop. No matter what user enters a conference room or huddle space, they can access the internet, log in to the appropriate programs, and get straight to their hybrid meeting, in-person meeting, or interactive collaboration.

The Itasca County team saw a clear advantage with Newline products since interactive displays are its focus, it is not one of many side businesses. Therefore, the advanced replacement warranty was attractive, as well as free panel training and comprehensive support. Newline also delivered on the product that was promised, delivered, and installed on time, with the same pricing that was quoted. All of which were crucial components when making an IFP selection during the pandemic.

Newline was quick to respond during our search for monitor solutions, they offered competitive rates and superior display options, they delivered the product on time and on budget (which was difficult during the pandemic) and the solutions have exceeded our expectations. The support and training after the fact has been top-notch. Newline is an outstanding company to work with!”
– Brett Skyles, County Administrator

The Results

With an executed short turnaround time of just a few weeks, the X Series panels were put into action immediately in three buildings including Health and Human Services, the Courthouse, and Emergency Operations Center. The new touch panels provided structure for small virtual meetings, single-person room usage, and large meetings that required a large screen, camera, and microphone for the room.

Itasca County saw a decrease in the travel budget and travel time needed to attend meetings. However, meetings were still taking place and being scheduled more rapidly with the aid of the new unified collaboration system. Document sharing became easier and discussions improved for virtual meetings with multiple people in one room.

End-users weren’t left with the panels without instruction or direction to get started either. Although the X Series panels are very easy to start working on out-of-the-box, all Newline panels come with unlimited training and free support. Even during the pandemic, the Itasca County staff could rely on Newline for support in transitioning to a hybrid model.