Uniting government, non-governmental, and private-sector partners through the capability rich online Virtual Community Platform (onVCP) tool leads to a forward-thinking confluence where a community of professionals can actively collaborate and share documents in a secure venue.
Bringing Web-based Collaboration to Life
The Virtual Community Platform (VCP) is a web-based virtual online collaboration tool built on Microsoft’s powerful SharePoint® and Unified Communications Solution architectures, and commercial off-the-shelf applications, then modified through the inclusion of “wizards” to facilitate easy use by federal departments or state, local, or tribal agencies in collaboration, coordination, and communication activities. The virtual community that is created is readily accessible through a range of web-connected devices; the user is not tied to one computer, and requires neither local software, nor administrator rights in order to launch it. This makes the VCP a perfect home for the tools and information you need to successfully execute for your organization on a daily basis. You are freed to disseminate capabilities across organizations and jurisdictions, without getting caught up in configuration complexities.
The need to develop a secure community of trusted relationships is one of the most important aspects in the creation and operation of a collaborative endeavor. The VCP provides the capability to attain the connected and informed community which is needed and provide the functionality for daily operations and communications, so participants will be able to communicate and collaborate in logical and cohesive manner.
Robust Infrastructure and Amenities Make it Easy to Stay Connected
Basic VCP functions are easy to learn and the Application (“App”) Panel includes:
- Microsoft Lync, which is built on Microsoft’s Unified Communications platform,
- Intra- and Inter-Community Collaboration, Workspace, and Social Computing,
- Permission-based Document and Content Management, and
- Enterprise Search.
In addition, organization-specific apps can be incorporated to make the VCP work the way your organization already does… only better!
Unified Communications keep users connected, informed, and productive, by integrating both audio and video conference calls, instant messaging; and desktop sharing of work products (documents, spreadsheets, e‑mail, and calendars). The key features of Unified Communications include:
- Integrated collaborative Web-conferencing,
- Integrated audio- and video-conferencing,
- Desktop product sharing, whereby documents can be simultaneously,
- viewed by multiple users, who then work collaboratively on the document,
- Individual and Group Chat and Discussions, and
- Presence functions, which note whether contacts are available, on the phone, offline, unavailable, or away.
Intra- and Inter-Community Collaboration, Workspace, and Social Computing
The VCP offers robust collaboration capabilities, which keep users connected and productive by providing easy access to other team members, documents, and information needed to make a project efficient and successful, including a shared list of forthcoming events and announcements that might be of interest, and a directory of quick-click hyperlinks to relevant websites of community interest, with the ability to set alerts on information that changes. The site offers a wiki site template for use as a creative forum to brainstorm ideas, a blog template, a unified place to find vetted people and group lists and from which to manage user permissions, choices among team and site calendars synchronized with Microsoft Outlook calendars, and document collaboration through version tracking. The community site is managed by Community Points-of-Contact (POCs) who act as the gatekeepers, assigning and removing permissions to capabilities and documents as needed.
Permission-based Document and Content Management
The development and management of single-stop, cooperative, and collective libraries or repositories reduces the problems of individual owners having different versions and missing or incomplete files. The Document Control capability tracks versions by who made the edits, what the edits were, and when the edits were done; and keeps all previous versions so that a document’s evolution can be tracked.
Documents can be placed separately in the Center or they can be placed in a folder. Based on the permission granted by the POC, users can or cannot see a folder and if they granted permission to folder or a document they can be given just read-only or a combination read and edit capability.
This function goes beyond the typical search engine experience. Leveraging the concept of “findability,” the VCP search function not only searches for documents or content matching the key words, it can also find site members with expertise in an area of interest.
The ability to quickly and accurately find information is crucial to any information management system, especially given the magnitude of information out there today. The VCP serves as a powerful, inclusive national, regional, or local, “bookshelf” of information that will serve any user search activity. Based on the permissions given, users will have access to the documents they are permitted to view, and possibly, edit. The Enterprise Search will also provide a history of check-out and document versions.
The VCP site offers a viable ability to develop and maintain a community of trusted relationships both within and outside the primary community. User profiles offer the means to quickly and effectively seek answers from those with the expertise and experience required, through a real-time presence via the Office Communication Server. The system will suggest social distance or colleagues that are within three degrees removed.