Managing the nation’s top fisheries.
NPFMC, a U.S. Department of Commerce council, encourages collaboration over the future of fishing using Adobe Connect and custom extension apps.
Maintain face-to-face connection in virtual meetings with up to 300 participants.
Encourage interactivity and debate while maintaining control over discussions.
Make meetings accessible to all participants, no matter where or how they attend.
Increased audience engagement and contribution.
Keeps participants organized with raised hands functionality and orderly speaking queues.
HandsUp module puts interactive buttons front and center for enhanced, intuitive actions.
Simplifies troubleshooting by giving meeting administrators a clear view of attendees’ technical specs.
Alaska is a state known for beautiful nature and wildlife. It should be no surprise that the state is also renowned for its abundant and high-quality fishing, with over half of all seafood caught in the United States coming from Alaska. These valuable waters are overseen by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), which is one of several national councils under the U.S. Department of Commerce dedicated to developing and managing U.S. fisheries. Other NPFMC responsibilities include protecting habitats, supporting community development, and working with scientists and industry partners on research initiatives.
The decisions that the Council makes can impact livelihoods. Smaller committees meet several times a month to share ideas and make decisions, and the Council meets five times a year to hear from all stakeholders. Council meetings can last up to 10 days, typically hosting 50 to 100 participants each day including federal government agencies, NGOs, scientists, local fishermen, and the public.
“Policies can impact the environment and people’s lives, so our meetings are very open and interactive,” says Maria Davis, Communications/IT Specialist at NPFMC. “There’s always a lot of back-and-forth debate. Which is why when we had to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it posed a significant challenge.”
The Council wanted to preserve the critical face-to-face connection and interactive discussions that make meetings so productive. But not just any video conferencing solution would do. Council meetings required an easy-to-use and manage environment that would be as inclusive as possible. The platform also needed to overcome some unique technical hurdles, such as people attending from extremely remote locations, including fishing vessels, via satellite phone.
NPFMC had been using Adobe Connect since 2012, primarily as a broadcasting solution. When the pandemic hit, the organization started looking at how it could use Adobe Connect and its extension apps to create the highly interactive meeting environment it was looking for.
“Adobe Connect — along with the custom extensions, Vantage Point, rPhone, and HandsUp from Refined Data Solutions — provides the exact features that we wanted to create seamless virtual Council meetings,” says Davis. “It gives us the usability and performance that has made our Council meetings such a success.”
“Our Council meetings are open to the public, so our platform needs to be as easy to use and accessible as possible. Adobe Connect partner Refined Data worked hand-in-hand with us to understand our meetings and adjust the conferencing platform and its extensions to fit our needs even better.”
Communications/IT Specialist, North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Delivering highly interactive meetings
With Adobe Connect, attendees can participate through almost any device using just a browser. People aren’t required to download an application, create usernames, or remember passwords, encouraging more participants to join.
NPFMC takes advantage of Adobe Connect pods and layouts to create highly flexible meeting spaces that encourage strong interactions among people in any size council meeting, from 30 to 300 or more. Share pods make materials readily available for attendees. Sarah La Belle, Administrative Assistant at NPFMC, likes setting up multiple Share pods that she can open and close throughout the day to keep presenters’ materials organized.
Share pods in Adobe Connect make materials easily available to NPFMC meeting participants.
As a federally funded organization, NPFMC must record all meetings, and discussions are typically conducted by switching between speakers. NPFMC frequently uses Adobe Connect Chat pods to make general announcements or introduce speakers. Scientists might even jump into the Chat pod to elaborate on their presentations and encourage deeper understanding of complex research.
“Adobe Connect is so much more robust than other online meeting platforms,” says Davis. “At first people were a little unsure because there is more to look at and interact with compared to other options, but once they realized that’s what makes it so powerful for enabling the easy availability of large amounts of information, they loved it.”
Custom extensions for Adobe Connect like Vantage Point, rPhone, and HandsUp expand meeting management, audio, and interactivity options in Adobe Connect.
One of the biggest challenges facing NPFMC was finding a stable audio solution that allowed participants to dial in, use a computer headset or simply listen.
“We had tried other audio suppliers but the stability of the rPhone audio that is deeply integrated with the Vantage Point Console was far superior in many ways and provides us with fine grained control over participant audio,” says Davis. “It also has a unique One-Way Glass feature that lets us talk to participants in a private audio channel to deliver technical support without disturbing other users, which has proven to be invaluable. Best of all, we saved money on our phone charges.”
The HandsUp extension app for Adobe Connect provides a helpful "raise hand" button to easily keep an ordered list of meeting participants who wish to speak.
HandsUp provides clear and easy-to-use buttons for enhanced meeting actions. With just a click on a colorful button, attendees can raise a hand, give a thumbs up or thumbs down, applaud a speaker, or ask for technical support.
“We really utilize the thumbs up and thumbs down HandsUp interactions to quickly count votes for proposals,” says La Belle. “It’s a huge time saver because we don’t need to set up a poll or pause to count votes; it displays the number of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes right away.”
The “raise hand” interaction is also used frequently in Council meetings. When discussing important topics, the Council wants everyone to have their say. When a person clicks the “raise hand” button, they are added to an ordered list of speakers. The Chair can call on each person in turn and use a countdown timer to make sure that everyone has time to speak.
“Our Council meetings are open to the public, so our platform needs to be as easy to use and accessible as possible,” says Davis. “Adobe Connect partner Refined Data worked hand-in-hand with us to understand our meetings and adjust the conferencing platform and its extensions to fit our needs even better.”
“Adobe Connect offers such a unique combination of customizability and performance that allows it to serve as a strong foundation for us to build upon.”
President & CEO, Refined Data Solutions
Effectively managing hundreds of attendees
While Adobe Connect delivers great experiences for attendees, it offers equally strong flexibility and performance for hosts. To make even the largest Council meetings easy to manage, the Vantage Point extension augments the robust built-in capabilities of Adobe Connect delivering professional, enterprise-grade functionality such as the ability to remotely monitor and activate the cameras of panelists and Council members who wish to speak.
This capability is delivered via a powerful browser-based management console that runs on a second monitor, side-by-side with the Adobe Connect meeting room. This Vantage Point Console allows meeting hosts or back-end producers to control camera and microphone devices, adjust volume, deliver private technical support, and administer professional compliance attendance and tracking capabilities. It’s like having your own A/V production studio built into Adobe Connect.
The Vantage Point Console extension for Adobe Connect provides meeting hosts with production studio-grade remote control A/V functionality as well as the ability to deliver private tech support to attendees and professional compliance reporting for meetings.
“Adobe Connect offers such a unique combination of customizability and performance that allows it to serve as a strong foundation for us to build upon,” says Terry Shane, President & CEO, Refined Data Solutions. “The flexible development environment with the HTML SDK allows us to easily create custom apps for even more impactful, accessible, and collaborative Adobe Connect experiences. With Vantage Point, we’re integrating existing functionality and add-on features to provide customers with optimal usability.”
The Vantage Point Console delivers enhanced views and management capabilities to Adobe Connect sessions. Administrators can click on individual user icons to see detailed technical information about each attendee, such as what browser they’re using, what version of Adobe Connect they’re on, their microphone and camera specifications, geographic location, screen resolution, and even the latency and bandwidth of their connection. These details are crucial when attendees ask for help troubleshooting technical problems during a live meeting.
Using the Vantage Point Consule extension with Adobe Connect sessions, meeting administrators can see detailed technical specs about attendees to help troubleshoot any issues during live meetings.
“We’ve gotten praise from other councils for how smooth our virtual meetings have been. We attribute that to Adobe Connect and Vantage Point.”
Communications/IT Specialist, North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Balancing physical and virtual gatherings for the future
While NPFMC has plans to return to in-person Council meetings, Adobe Connect and Vantage Point have clearly demonstrated how online meetings can still provide strong interactivity and results. The organization is considering going virtual permanently for some Council meetings to encourage continued participation from more people while reducing time and travel costs.
“We’ve gotten praise from other councils for how smooth our virtual meetings have been. We attribute that to Adobe Connect and Vantage Point,” says Davis.