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Vancouver-based CounterPath Offers Free Olympics Telework Solution

February 09, 2010

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is not the easiest area to move around even at the best of times, hemmed by mountains and the coast, with navigable inlets and rivers requiring crossing by bridges and tunnels that get backed up no matter how often they are expanded and otherwise modified. The region’s continued growth leapfrogs the ability of its infrastructure, especially its mass transit system to carry the load. I know; Vancouver is where I call home.

So when you take a global event like the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games that begin on Friday and superimpose its extensive travel demand and security requirements then you need every transportation alternative at your disposal. One of those solutions, which are part of Olympics organizer VANOC’s toolkit and is being promoted by TransLink, the region’s transportation agency, is telework.

CounterPath knows Vancouver’s transportation situation all too well, for it too is based here with offices in the city center, plus in downtown Victoria. To help British Columbia enterprises like it and their workforces maximize productivity and avoid gridlock CounterPath (News - Alert) is making its voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Bria softphones available for free to all area provincial businesses, academic institutions and government agencies. CounterPath will distribute softphones through Feb. 28 and validate accounts for 60 days upon activation.

CounterPath’s VoIP platform gives CIOs and IT managers a fast, convenient option for supporting telecommuting, which 70 percent of B.C. enterprises plan to expand or begin offering in time for the 2010 Games, according to a BC Human Resources Management Association survey. Although the 2010 Games span a little over two weeks - Feb. 12-28 - the survey found that the impact on employee commutes will last six to 10 weeks.

CounterPath’s Bria softphone goes beyond basic telecommuting services, such as voice calls and -mail, to support a variety of other applications, including video calls, presence, file transfers and messaging, all from a single user interface and tied into the enterprise's existing infrastructure. CounterPath's solution also gives B.C. enterprises the flexibility to enable those applications for all employees or for specific groups, such as call center staff.

The hope is that companies, governments and institutions will continue to telework after the 2010 Winter Olympics. They will need to. There is no room in TransLink’s budget to build much-needed rapid transit extensions and to open bus routes to serve growing but unserved areas. Many of the new services instituted for the Olympics, like the Olympic Line streetcar from the Canada Line to Granville Island will close after the event.

Telework is also a key and needed business continuity strategy; Metro Vancouver sits on the Pacific Rim’s ‘ring of fire’ and is vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Mount Baker, which lies and looms just to the south east of Vancouver, in Washington State, is a dormant i.e. can become active volcano while the Whistler area is home to Mounts Garibaldi, Cayley and Meager. Landslides and mudslides can quickly sever major travel routes while the dikes that protect populated areas Vancouver International Airport and transportation corridors that are on deltas can be breached.

“As a Vancouver-based company, CounterPath is committed to helping B.C. enterprises and other organizations maximize employee productivity while minimizing gridlock for the 2010 Games’ athletes, organizers and spectators,” said Donovan Jones (News - Alert), CEO, CounterPath. “The 2010 Games also are an ideal opportunity for B.C. enterprises to develop and expand their long-term telework strategies, which are key for disaster preparedness, reducing overhead costs and attracting and retaining employees.”

“A major trend during the past several Olympics Games is the rapidly increasing number of governments and businesses promoting telework, and the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are no exception,” adds Bob Fortier, president of the Canadian Telework Association. “Any product or service that can facilitate remote working is a great opportunity to improve productivity and minimize absenteeism - not just for the duration of the games, but as a long-term strategy, too.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard