Social distancing in the times of COVID19: Here’s how virtual conferences are organised

Anish Mondal
In today's COVID-19 situation, video conferencing is emerging more as a need of the hour, apart from the travel cost savings it always had.

For the first time the largest ever video conferencing of world leaders will be taking place on Thursday when G20 members as well as other invited guests, representatives of international and regional agencies meet virtually.

So what goes into Virtual Conferencing and why is it gaining popularity? Why is Video Streaming Popular?

Video Streaming has received high focus in the present era and its usage grown exponentially in the last few years especially with the deployment of popularly video streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and others. Data streaming for video accounts for most users of internet traffic.

The transmission mechanism used by video servers has an impact on the quality and efficient use of bandwidth. The client-side video player application estimates the download speed in order to achieve seamless experience. It downloads a small portion of the video to initiate a smooth playback and, this advance video download portion serves as an informational buffer for the video player continuously while new data comes arrives.

The performance of the video streaming system is highly dependent on the data transmission mechanism at the streaming server end. Streaming servers use various techniques which have an impact on the quality and performance of the video presentation. Further, the buffer space assigned at the client side for holding data which has arrived earlier (than what is being played) is also critical in performance measurement. In case a TV show or movie loads slowly or experience buffering or rebuffering, this is attributable to a weak or unstable connection to the internet.

For display or TV at the client-side, picture quality is defined in terms of pixels, which are little coloured dots that make up an image. An image resolution is the total number of pixels in a video or image. For example, 1080 in 1080p refers to the number of pixels comprising the video’s resolution. The more pixels, richer and better the resolution of an image, making the video sharper in details. 1080p is fill-strength HD and any value above this comes under the category of Ultra-HD. The higher quality video uses more bandwidth than lower ones.

Video Conferencing Software

Live conferences are being conducted by users in diverse locations using video conferencing software. In fact, video conferencing facility for astronauts in Space Station for regular connect with ground-based scientist and, also, with their own family is a part of Space Station operations. In today's COVID-19 situation, video conferencing is emerging more as a need of the hour, apart from the travel cost savings it always had. Also, it has helped improve productivity. Medical staff too have utilized these facilities for remote medical assistance.

The video conferencing software manages the transmission of text, audio and video. The software facilitates the use and sharing of files in a collaborative manner. Video conferencing may occur between two people in a point-to-point connection and also between many users. To use a video conferencing software, basically, the users require a computer terminal equipped with a web-camera, microphone and headphones. In slightly advanced versions of this software, recording of meetings, real-time screen sharing and facilities for remote desktop control along with cloud storage features are available. Some of the popular video conferencing tools available in the market are Skype, Zoom and Cisco WebEx.