Department of Interior's National Indian Programs Training Center, Albuquerque, N.M.
Jan 4, 2010 12:00 PM
CobraNet Enhances Learning
There probably isn't any tougher assignment for audiovisual equipment than in centers of education and training. Classes, meetings, and events every day, throughout the day (and evenings) mean that the AV equipment is in continuous use.
The Department of Interior's National Indian Programs Training Center (NIPTC) in Albuquerque, N.M., is no exception. The Center sees more than 6,000 students every year, providing federal employees with training programs including cultural awareness and government policy.
Shortly the facility opened its doors in 2006, an effort was launched to enhance the teaching and learning experience through state-of-the-art audiovisual technologies.
"Initially, staff used portable equipment," says Morris E. Gaiter, NIPTC distance learning coordinator. "It was older equipment that was moved from room to room and had to be brought out of storage, set up, tested, and then dismantled and re-stored every time it was used."
This is a lot of moving about when you consider the NIPTC has 11 classrooms, five computer labs, five breakout rooms, and two conference rooms within its 50,000 square feet.
But the NIPTC knew technology was just a part of the equation. So the organization turned to ExhibitOne to design, integrate and install a system that addressed the Center's unique requirements.
At the high level, it was important for every room to have the same audiovisual capabilities and that the equipment could be easily controlled within each room or controlled centrally for the entire facility. "That has been the biggest benefit of all," Gaiter says.
However, it's only after peeking under the hood does one begin to appreciate the experience and expertise needed to transform "simple and easy" into a fully integrated, facility-wide system incorporating DVD/VCRs, document cameras, computers, monitors, touchscreen room control panels, loudspeakers, access to cable TV, two satellite systems, digital signage, a media production center, and a satellite broadcast studio.
Another key consideration was the Facility Wide Audio Translation (FWAT) system, which sends the audio and video signals from any classroom to interpreters located in a central location. Their translation is then sent back to the classroom to be transmitted through infrared transmitters.
A key to it all was ExhibitOne's use of CobraNet. With it came sophisticated system management capabilities, much lower cabling costs, reliability, and high-quality digital sound.
"Our ability to offer the CobraNet solution also provided the NIPTC with a capability that could not be matched by competing designs: tremendous flexibility. The NIPTC's audio system can change and grow with zero additional cabling," says ExhibitOne Project/Design Engineer Krystofer von Hybschmann. Similar flexibility and expandability has also been designed into the NIPTC's video capabilities.
The NIPTC had ExhibitOne install what it designed. "With our design, a local installation firm could have accomplished the installation portion of the project," von Hybschmann says. "But having ExhibitOne install it ensured the design information was completely understood and the installation process was virtually seamless to the clientsomething that cannot be guaranteed when information is handed off to a third-party installation firm."
"I really liked the one-on-one relationship with key ExhibitOne personnel and the flexibility of plans for our system," Gaiter says.
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