It is perhaps the Holy Grail of industry standards: to be specified or expressly integrated into other industry standards, best practices, or requests for proposals. Take, for example, the growing stable of ANSI-accredited, AV performance standards from InfoComm International. Aside from the fact that InfoComm standards benefit enormously from approval by the American National Standards Institute, the ultimate measure of their worth comes when users take those standards and incorporate them into their own building and design requirements.
If you dig into the most recent facilities standards for California's trial courts-somewhere between mandatory provisions for conference and training rooms and fire protection criteria-you will find a section devoted to courthouse audiovisual systems. And in the section on AV systems, you'll find descriptions such as the following: "Speech and audio reinforcement systems design shall follow the current release of the design standards established by ANSI/INFOCOMM 1M-2009 Audio Coverage Uniformity in Enclosed Listener Areas (ACU)."
In fact, the current version of the California Trial Court Facilities Standards, published by the Judicial Council of California's Administrative Office of the Courts and due to be final in November 2011, makes reference to all three existing ANSI/INFOCOMM standards, including 2M-2010 Standard Guide for Audiovisual Systems Design and Coordination Processes and 3M-2011 Projected Image Contrast Ratio standards.
"It's important to have the standards in there," said Jennifer Willard, CTS, Supervising AV/Video Systems Technical Analyst with California's Administrative Office of the Courts. "When you talk about courthouses, architects design fabulous buildings, but they can prove difficult for integrating proper audiovisual systems. The standards are critical because they hold the architects and designers accountable. Now we're not forced to compromise on our AV systems. Thanks to the standards, we've finally got something that, from a performance perspective, we can leverage to our advantage."
And in the California courts, that's no small deal. Under California Senate Bill 1407, 41 courthouses in the state are slated to be built or renovated through 2015, at a cost of roughly $5 billion. Although the latest version of the courts standards hasn't been finalized (the prior version was published in 2006, when AV systems were still predominantly analog), Willard said some designers are already working in the spirit of the pending document and with an eye toward the InfoComm standards.
"This is a milestone," Willard said. "AV was included under telecommunications in the 2006 edition of the courts standards. For the first time ever, AV technology has its own chapter."