3-D FTW

Deloitte explores the brave new world of virtual communication

Collaborate without the hassle — or risk — of travel. Photo by Jasmin Merdan/Getty

Picture this: A corporate executive spends the morning exploring a trade show floor, viewing videos and presentations on new products and networking with companies, vendors, and other attendees from around the world.

In the afternoon, they teleport to the grand auditorium for a keynote presentation, followed by a post-keynote breakout session in which the executive plans to present their latest corporate findings to a stakeholder audience.

As they teleport into this new room, they are greeted by an array of avatar stakeholders, including the top 10 CEOs to whom they hope to present. Grateful for everyone having the time to meet, the executive's avatar begins presenting, using collaborative tools.

Assuming the technology works smoothly, this scenario highlights the potential convenience and elevated engagement of a virtual world: A digital environment where users can meet, communicate, interact, and collaborate without the hassle and expense of travel — or the current practice of face masks and social distancing.

Communication, collaboration, and engagement have evolved with technology. The forms and methods used to exchange ideas have advanced from enabling simple message exchanges between two participants to instantly, simultaneously conveying information to many participants across vast distances.

Each new communication technology — many of which have remained in use rather than being superseded — has expanded the geographic range of both sender and recipient. The next advancement takes this several steps further: Virtual worlds enable many-to-many communication, simultaneously, with multi-participant engagement unrestricted by the location where collaboration can be facilitated in a three-dimensional environment.

Continue reading this article on Deloitte's website to learn how real work and life are transitioning to virtual worlds, and what it means for global collaboration.

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This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

About Deloitte
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee ("DTTL"), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as "Deloitte Global") does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the "Deloitte" name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms. Copyright ©2020 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

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Building Houston

 
 

For over a year now, scientists have been testing wastewater for COVID-19. Now, the public can access that information. Photo via Getty Images

In 2020, a group of researchers began testing Houston's wastewater to collect data to help identify trends at the community level. Now, the team's work has been rounded up to use as an online resource.

The Houston Health Department and Rice University launched the dashboard on September 22. The information comes from samples collected from the city's 39 wastewater treatment plants and many HISD schools.

"This new dashboard is another tool Houstonians can use to gauge the situation and make informed decisions to protect their families," says Dr. Loren Hopkins, chief environmental science officer for the health department and professor in the practice of statistics at Rice University, in a news release. "A high level of virus in your neighborhood's wastewater means virus is spreading locally and you should be even more stringent about masking up when visiting public places."

The health department, Houston Water, Rice University, and Baylor College of Medicine originally collaborated on the wastewater testing. Baylor microbiologist Dr. Anthony Maresso, director of BCM TAILOR Labs, led a part of the research.

"This is not Houston's first infectious disease crisis," Maresso says in an earlier news release. "Wastewater sampling was pioneered by Joseph Melnick, the first chair of Baylor's Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, to get ahead of polio outbreaks in Houston in the 1960s. This work essentially ushered in the field of environmental virology, and it began here at Baylor. TAILOR Labs is just continuing that tradition by providing advanced science measures to support local public health intervention."

It's an affordable way to track the virus, says experts. People with COVID-19 shed viral particles in their feces, according to the release, and by testing the wastewater, the health department can measure important infection rate changes.

The dashboard, which is accessible online now, is color-coded by the level of viral load in wastewater samples, as well as labeled with any recent trend changes. Houstonians can find the interactive COVID-19 wastewater monitoring dashboard, vaccination sites, testing sites, and more information at houstonemergency.org/covid19.

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