Emergency Center Uses Advanced AV from Magenta Research

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Magenta Research, member of the newly formed Gefen Pro AV Group, supplied critical back-end functionality for the new Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in Missouri.

After nearly ten years of planning and development, the OEM was able to make its move from an outdated, 100+-year-old building to a new facility designed specifically for OEM operations using advanced audio/video features and connectivity.

As funding came through from grants and local support, the Springfield-Greene County OEM facility began to emerge. The two-story building with basement now houses the OEM on the basement and ground levels with a 911 emergency call center on the second floor. The disaster-proof facility employed Orlando, FL-based Jim Landis of TLC Engineering to design the low voltage and AV systems. Local systems integrator Killian Digital from Springfield, MO, was contracted to integrate and program the entirety of audio/video connectivity that would utilize today’s most technologically advanced audio/video equipment.

“We’re talking about a very large facility that has local and regional responsibility for disaster response,” explained Spencer Cox, president, Killian Digital. “They’re most recent deployment was after Hurricane Sandy’s devastating path of destruction up the east coast of the U.S.” In this case, the team provided support to the local emergency operations center, assisting with logistics, planning and recovery operations.

To take full advantage of the new technologies currently available in the market, Cox initiated some design modifications that enabled the OEM to reap the benefits of a fully equipped, AV enabled facility where real-time communications can mean the difference between life and death. He also worked with TechSpa of Winter Park, FL, who wrote a new Crestron module for the Voyager using a client/server methodology. "This module in particular had to be very robust and responsive for reliable and fast operation of the Voyager via the Crestron user interfaces."

Ground-breaking construction began in March 2011 with the AV installation kicking off in January 2012. By the end of July 2012, the Springfield-Greene County OEM was fully functional.

The OEM located in the basement and ground floor uses a multi-functional design, in which rooms can be quickly commandeered as needed to best meet the current situation. When not in a mission-critical emergency, some of the rooms are used as classrooms, for example. There are spaces that can readily accommodate visiting pubic officials, press briefings, coordination centers and impromptu call centers in the case of a disaster. The basement or 'pit,' which can be viewed from above on the ground floor, is reserved for Operations (Ops).

All AV connectivity equipment that feeds the Ops center and the entire OEM facility is mounted in four racks in the rear projection room behind the huge screen on the Ops floor.

Magenta Research’s new Voyager VG-Matrix is the central hub of the entire AV operation.

“This Voyager matrix will accept 48 inputs and will output to 104 displays so that each source can be distributed to any display in the building at any time," Cox said. "It is an extremely flexible and expandable solution.”

Andy Fliss, U.S. director of sales for Magenta Research, said, “The Voyager VG-Matrix allows for 8-Port input and output cards for high definition digital video with RS-232 control signals. Multifunctional input and output cards mean users can switch between eight inputs and eight outputs using the same card. Plus it supplies built-in multimode fiber optic modules that can be combined and swapped out to create a totally custom matrix.”

Because all AV data is transmitted over fiber optic cabling, the Voyager’s adaptable card cage is a huge advantage. “We have two strands of fiber going from every source to every display so if a fiber port goes out or breaks, we can easily replace a card on the fly, which in a disaster situation could be critical,” Cox added.

Indeed, disaster situations present the most intense demand for real-time, bulletproof methods of communication to one, more or all displays as needed.

The Ops center contains a huge main video screen, with 17 flat panel displays mounted throughout the room to increase visibility. Tables can accommodate up to 65 personnel at any time. Telephone, Internet and Voyager Matrix controls are built-into all 65 work areas for at-your-fingertips data access. There are 17 touch panels and 15 iPads that allow video selection from any input/output on the Voyager Matrix. Anyone with an iPad can become a system administrator and route video to any space in the facility.

Alternatively, the control room operator has access to the Ops projector and can alter high definition video in size, content and layout using video wall processing equipment. Individual headphones allow independent audio selection depending on what is being shown on the projector or any one of the flat panel displays.

Similarly, the ground floor also hosts a projector and screen for video viewing. Individual flat panel displays and/or projectors are mounted in various rooms, including the press briefing area, all connected back via fiber optics to the Voyager matrix.

On the second floor, the 911 call center is set up for 32 live operators, and also contains four flat panel displays for critical data communication—all are linked through the Voyager Matrix. In this particular area, voice and data infrastructure were paramount.

As Cox noted, “This was a hugely rewarding project to work on because of the personal implications. This OEM has a major impact on the continued safety of our families, friends and communities, both locally and nationwide. AV connectivity, in this regard, is absolutely mission critical and we are thrilled that we created the most advanced AV system available today, thanks in large part to Magenta’s Voyager Matrix.”

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