The APEC meeting in Sydney is not going to be cheap.

Security costs (to protect our dear leaders from nasty terrorists and protesters) are expected to run upwards of $170 million. According to the NSW Business Council, the public holiday on Friday, 7 September, will cost NSW business more than $325 million. Then there’s the accommodation, the travel (all carbon-neutral, one hopes, but one doubts), the food, the booze, the ho-kers, the coke … It all adds up to a huge bill at the end of the day.

Hey APEC! The ’80s called! They want to introduce you to this crazy new thing called “video conferencing”. Imagine a crazy futuristic cyberworld where people in different countries could discuss matters of global importance via the twin mediums of “video” and “the worldwide web”. Imagine no more! The future is today, today is yesterday, and yesterday is last week.

A video conferencing expert at Rutledge Engineering, a leading Australian VC firm, advises that a 21-point international VC could initially cost between $15-40,000 per endpoint (depending on how many people would be participating at each endpoint) and approximately $2-300,000 to tie all the endpoints.

After the initial set-up, the system would be incredibly cost-effective to run in future years. In addition, the system would have to be connected by a Wide Area Network (WAN). Telstra’s VC department advises that to run a 384k VC would cost $6-700 per hour for international sites (plus a $27.50 15-minute set-up fee).

All up, you could crank this thing 24 hours a day for a week and you’d still get change from $4 million. This system would be secure from foreign interference and rogue elements. And, barring a natural disaster, it would operate uninterrupted.

Of course, all of these numbers mean little when you consider that every APEC government already has this technology in place — but why bother implementing it when you can have a zany $500 million photo-op every year?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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