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SANTA ANA : Teleconference Links Officials Across Nation

October 31, 1994|JON NALICK

Local government and business officials met with civic leaders from 53 cities without leaving the city during a teleconference designed to share ideas on addressing social and economic problems.

About a dozen representatives from cities and corporations throughout the county participated in the event last week. The program linked them with peers thousands of miles away, said Debra Walters, spokeswoman for the Volunteer Center, which organized the event locally.

During the 90-minute program, they used satellite telecommunications and video equipment to offer each other tips on community problem-solving and traded suggestions, she said.

Over the next two years, as many as 500 groups nationwide will be able to participate, creating a kind of national convention via cyberspace, said Janet Whitcomb, executive vice president of Volunteer Center.

"I think that it will be extremely valuable. It would, in some ways, be able to compensate that people cannot physically get together. It would allow that kind of networking and interaction on an intimate basis for virtually no cost," she said.

Topics discussed included ways to boost community service and reduce unemployment and crime. The discussion was run primarily through the Washington, D.C.-based Civic Television Network. People at each site responded to questions in turn.

Walters said that because the event was the first of its kind, the discussion was essentially one-sided and was led from the group in Washington.

Future programs will offer groups more freedom in shaping the discussion. The next conference will be Wednesday.

Information: Bob Burnett at (714) 953-5757.

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