NATO is investing in technology allowing delegates to meet virtually, instead of in- person, through videoconferences. As part of a contract with SAIC, Polycom, a San Jose, Calif.-based technology firm with a federal office in Herndon, will provide networks and hardware for the 28-nation alliance.

Videoconferencing has “shortened the fuse on NATO’s ability to act in this dynamic environment”, Brigadier General Gyorgy Lehel, operations director for NATO’s Communications and Information Services Agency, said in a statement. Polycom’s technology is already deployed in conference rooms at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, as well as in offices in the Hague and Norfolk, Va., among others.

Polycom sets up special “telepresence” rooms in each location, equipped with high-definition monitors and secure networks. Furniture and wallpaper in each telepresence rooms is identical, so both virtual participants, whose faces appear on life-size on high-definition screens, and those who are physically present, can simulate being in the same room, according to the company.

The contract, through SAIC, formalizes a years-long relationship between Polycom and NATO during which the company has provided technology for the alliance, Polycom federal market director Russ Colbert said.

NATO’s “operations of technology and their need for security of the passing of that information is just like that of our Departments of Defense,” Colbert said, explaining that federal contracts prepared Polycom for heightened security requirements.