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Crisis Management

Nov 17, 2010 10:45 AM, By Cynthia Wisehart

AV Empowers Emergency Response

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Housed in a unique seismic-rated display structure by RP Visuals, four 10,000-lumen Digital Projection International Titan 1080p-700 3-chip projectors do the heavy lifting for the main display wall. Photo by Brad Howell

“We also leveraged the multiple inputs of the flatpanel displays and several DVI switching preselectors for the DP projectors to provide a redundant fallback path for critical news and information to the display wall should the primary DVI matrix router and associated video processors experience any failures,” Bilar says.

In the MCR, all sources are also available to flatpanel displays at each of the pod workspaces (see sidebar), as well as to various adjoining conference rooms.

Room audio comes from 12 distributed Electro-Voice ceiling loudspeakers driven by several QSC multichannel amplifiers for sound reinforcement within the MCR.

Spectrum began a one-year programmatic design for the EOC in 2003 and returned to design the systems in 2006, oversee the AV contractor, and do commissioning and testing over a continuous four-year period. Photo by Brad Howell

The supporting infrastructure for the audiovisual display is housed in four racks, including in part, Furman Sound power sequencers; Gefen DVI/audio Cat-5 receivers, DVI switchers, and an NTSC-to-HDMI scaler; and Extron DVI/Cat-5 and fiber-to-DVI receivers and transmitters, and DVI switchers and distribution amps. Control, both primary and backup, is via Crestron.

Eighteen Contemporary Research 232-ATSC QAM/ATSC/NTSC RF tuner/receivers (plus dozens more throughout the EOC) provide universal HDTV tuning and complete the cycle for the MCR component of the ambitious CATV system. This tuner/receiver was key to the system design (and emblematic of the design thinking) due to its controllability via AV control systems, it’s unique multiple simultaneous outputs (HDMI, HD analog, RGB/component, and composite), and its ability to reboot after a power outage in the same configuration.

It is worth mentioning that while the CATV system interacts with the LAN, the EOC backbone is decidedly RF. As due diligence, Bilar gave IT vendors the opportunity to make their case. However, with requirements such as 24/7/365 reception and distribution of 135 HD channels, the ability to recover from a power failure in less than two minutes without administration, the ability for users to incorporate department-specific content, the need to retain HD detail on the main display wall, the need to avoid set-top boxes and IP appliances, and scalability considerations for new viewer positions all proved insurmountable for a LAN-based system.

Here’s another reality that is not about technology, but government economics: The EOC job was so large that the city was Spectrum’s sole client for the duration of the project, and an arrangement put the company on the city payroll, anchored by Spectrum’s vice president of engineering, Bob Downs. Bilar says it was a win/win that resulted in considerable cost efficiencies, and it gave Spectrum the access to create and advocate truly integrated, nuanced systems.

In June, the city extended Spectrum’s contract to allow the last details of commissioning for the EMD and LAPD components, as well as commissioning of the LAFD component through June 2011. That contract became a budgetary casualty just four months later: As of the first of last month, the contract is suspended pending funding. The biggest disappointment? “We want to be able to finish the mission for the responders who are out there risking their lives,” Bilar says. After years of developing the systems vision, articulating the requirements, identifying the technology, and creating the detail designs to serve these stakeholders, he’d like to see it the rest of the way home.

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