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Installation Spotlight: Emergency Management Hub

Apr 13, 2009 5:23 PM, Staff Report

Emergency Operations Centre, Office of Emergency Management, Ottawa

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Ottawa Emergency Management Center

To better equip Ottawa’s Emergency Management Program, the Emergency Operations Centre selected Duocom Canada to design and install a state-of-the-art system that could centrally manage the broad range of incoming information from sources such as videoconferencing systems, monitors, video displays, and traffic cameras.

In 2002, the city of Ottawa set up a comprehensive Emergency Management Program (EMP) that was to provide a comprehensive and integrated response to emergencies, disasters, or other unusual situations affecting the area. On a day-to-day basis, the center that houses the EMP is used primarily as a meeting and presentation room, but when urgent circumstances arise, such as a visit from top-ranking officials or a severe ice storm that interrupts power to the region, the Emergeny Operations Centre (EOC) switches gears and initiates round-the-clock emergency management operations.

The Problem

In the past, the EOC was a very rudimentary, low-tech operation that contained little more than a boardroom, a few two-way radios, flip charts, telephones, and paper maps. The EOC was seeking to upgrade to a system that would enable it to gather, view, and manage information drawn from a range of sources in a single, centralized display. It was also important that the system provide a hub for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data coming and going from sources such as videoconferencing systems, monitors, video displays, and traffic cameras. The EOC selected Duocom Canada, which specializes in control rooms, for design and engineering services on the project.

“EOC had a general sense of what it wanted to accomplish, but little experience with the technology that would enable them to meet their goals,” says Dominic Taylor, account manager for Duocom’s Integrated Solutions Control Room Group. “The organization wanted solutions to meet their current application requirements with flexibility to meet future expansion. We worked closely with them to define the best system for their needs.”

Because the room’s layout is long and narrow with workstations running along its entire length, it was determined that the initial configuration of two 50in. display cubes would not be sufficient to meet the EOC’s application requirements. Duocom suggested that an expanded design featuring a 3x2 array of Mitsubishi display wall cubes would work better with the room’s layout, as well as providing a larger display area.

Ottawa upgraded the system to a display wall comprising six Mitsubishi VS-50XLF50U front-access projection cubes. The system is centrally managed by a state-of-the-art Jupiter Fusion 964 display wall processor. The new 3x2 array provides an image with 3072x1536-pixel resolution (more than 4.7 million pixels). The system’s unique front access for maintenance saves valuable real estate and creates a better fit with the center’s long, narrow footprint.

“To facilitate ease of use, we configured a Crestron control system to run the room,” Taylor says. “It has been set up for day-to-day business requirements (presentations and videoconferences), as well as for EOC use. The EOC programming of the Crestron system includes shortcut buttons to recall a series of presets as designed in the Jupiter Systems controller. A touch of a button changes the layout of the wall to best suit the current monitoring requirement. Due to the processing power of the Jupiter controller, redrawing of the wall from time of layout change is a matter of seconds until it is perfectly viewable.”

A Polycom VSX 8400 Presenter linked to a Polycom Vortex EF2280 video- and audioconferencing system has also been installed to allow day-to-day business meetings and ongoing coordination with additional agencies in the event of an emergency. A series of tabletop beyerdynamic SHM 201A gooseneck mics provide all the occupants with an interface to the conferencing system. Additionally, a zoned system for in-room voice lift was configured due to the long, narrow room. Video and audio can also be seen and heard in the manager’s office and overflow room.

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