St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, founded by Danny Thomas in 1962, is more than a place. It’s a beacon. It’s a reason to have hope. St. Jude is dedicated to advancing cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. At St. Jude, Harvey Smith is responsible for the management and oversight of the Information Services Audio Visual Services staff who provides communication-based collaborative technology and services for the institution. This includes managing the personnel and technology needed to facilitate medium to large events, assisting with the design and implementation of technology used in collaborative spaces, and technical support for lectures, seminars, symposiums, and special events. The AV Technology team was so grateful to connect with Harvey and ask him about his experience as a technology leader at such an important institution.

Harvey Smith, Supervisor of Collaborative Technology and Services, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Image@St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital / Peter Barta
How is AV/IT convergence playing out in your facility?
Harvey Smith:
Audiovisual technology has shifted over the years. Many of the technologies used today are more in line with what you would find in a data center or networking closet. With the rapid changes, we are always in the process of upgrading equipment. It has been fascinating to see how we have transitioned from many of the older technologies to the new network switches and category cables that are in use today.

What AV/IT problems have you solved recently?
Harvey Smith:
With the patient experience at the forefront of everything we do, we recently assisted with the installation of a large video wall that allows our patients to play games, watch movies, and communicate with others. Determining how to give patients access to the technology while balancing the hospital’s need to manage the technology was difficult.

Does the IoT have any influence in your organization and or facility? If so, what is your IoT strategy?
Harvey Smith:
This is a new area for us, but one that is growing quickly. We use internet connected devices with our video conference and digital whiteboard equipment. We recently explored the idea of managing this equipment by interfacing the motion sensors located in each of our meeting rooms with our control system. The data generated from the motion sensors would all us to automatically power down equipment that is not being used if the room is unoccupied.

What AV/IT do you hope to buy in the near future?
Harvey Smith:
That is a tough question with so many things on my wish list. If I had to pick one item, it would be new digital whiteboards for our collaboration spaces. I’ve learned that despite the amount of technology you put in a space, nothing compares to being able to write your ideas out in front of a group. The digital whiteboard takes that concept one step further by expanding the groups membership to anyone in the world with a computer, tablet or smartphone.

How to you procure/purchase your AV? Do you conduct in-house installs?
Harvey Smith:
It depends on the project. For small to medium sized projects, we will typically purchase the necessary equipment through a distributor or manufacturer and manage the install process in–house. For larger projects or specialty installs, we typically work with a vendor.

Where are technology manufacturers getting it wrong or missing opportunities?
Harvey Smith:
I believe manufacturers are not spending enough time talking to the customers that use their products every day. If they simply asked questions such as “how do you use this equipment” or “what do you need,” they could truly learn a lot about their own products and the needs of their consumers.

What is the biggest obstacle to collaboration? What are your collaboration strategies?
Harvey Smith:
I believe the biggest obstacle collaboration faces is simplicity. It is extremely difficult to pack a large number of features into a product while keeping it simple to use. Our collaboration strategy centers on making interactions with technology as simple as possible while providing excellent customer service.  

Learn more about St. Jude at www.stjude.org.