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Emergency Operations Center Upgrades with Visionary Solutions

Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
(Image credit: Visionary Solutions)

From natural disasters to NASA happenings, the city of Houston is no stranger to newsworthy events. And as with most major metropolitan areas, emergency preparedness is something the Harris County government takes seriously. The Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is among the nation’s most connected and technologically sophisticated.

Recently the facility’s audio and video systems were given an update, courtesy of AV integration specialists CCS Presentation Systems. The new system integrated a complex matrix of sources, multiple video walls and flat panel displays, distribution and control, with connections via Visionary Solutions PacketAV DUET endpoints.

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The facility’s north and south walls are outfitted with large 2x8 video walls comprised of 55-inch LG VH Series .88mm combined bezel displays. Each video wall is flanked with smaller 2x2 arrays of LG 55-inch displays. Additional screens are located at individual workstations, a briefing room, a conference room, and a couple of private offices. A total of 62 DUET encoders and 68 DUET decoders provide maximum flexibility in routing multiple sources and destinations. A TVOne CorioMaster handles scaling, mirroring, and windowing, with multiple Cisco network switches routing communication from a Crestron control processor.

“Anything can be routed to anywhere, anytime, and have breakaway audio,” said CCS account executive Kevin Salmon. “Instead of a central touchpanel, the system is controlled via multiple iPads in the EOC and briefing room. There is one person that typically drives the entire system. As a hard-wired back, we did load a Crestron XPanel on the dedicated PC in the control room office.”

Audio in the EOC was updated with multiple Biamp DSPs allowing the customer to listen to multiple audio sources from their telephone system. In the briefing room, a ClearOne PTZ camera and additional Biamp DSP equip the room for web-based videoconferencing.

While the project went smoothly in the end user’s eyes, it was not without a few hiccups, Salmon said. “As with all very large complex systems that have been modified over the years, the documentation we received did not always match what was in the field. Our designer engineers spent extensive time doing onsite discovery and made recommendations on ways to improve the proposed system. There were several meetings with the end user to identify certain functional requirements that were not spelled out in the bid package. In the end, CCS provided a system that exceeded the customer’s expectations, and we met our original estimate of four weeks, start to finish.”