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Electrosonic equips Santa Barbara emergency centre

The county's new Emergency Operations Center is host to a broad range of AV technologies including projectors, displays, videoconferencing and audio.

Electrosonic has provided extensive audio, video and data information support to the County of Santa Barbara’s new Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which houses a number of technology-enabled spaces designed to help the California county maintain a constant state of readiness.

Electrosonic equipped the permanent home of the Office of Emergency Management with presentation, video conferencing and streaming video capabilities.

“Santa Barbara County went from a 1,600 square-foot trailer with a projector and a small TV to a new 11,000 square-foot building powered in part by green energy,” said Electrosonic project manager Jeff Galato Sr.

The new EOC facilitates the sharing of information from various internal and external sources, whether it’s news media, incident maps from geospatial services, live video streams from a county helicopter, or operational reports. Having critical information displayed and shared – via large display screens, flat-panel monitors or video conferencing systems – improves management decisions.

Electrosonic’s role encompassed installations in the Incident Management Room, Management Conference Room, Breakout Room, Joint Information Center, Media Distribution System, Director’s Office, staff Break Room, and Lobby.

A mobile tablet device operating on the building’s secured Wi-Fi network allows the EOC to control the majority of its systems with a graphically intuitive user control system interface. The tablet not only controls all AV components, displays throughout the EOC, but it more importantly provides the staff with complete control of the new system right at their fingertips, allowing them to focus more on making quick emergency response decisions.

At the heart of the EOC is the Incident Management Room, the main operations centre for the county’s emergency management staff. Designed with flexible seating configurations for approximately 40 people from county and municipal agencies, the room features AV presentation technologies provided by Electrosonic that can help meet an array of incident needs.

The primary display consists of three wall-mounted front projection screens to accommodate widescreen images from three ceiling-mounted Mitsubishi video projectors. All source and routing/processing equipment is housed in an equipment rack in the Telecommunications Room.

The Management Conference Room and the Breakout Room, both can host up to 16 participants, feature AV systems provided by Electrosonic that accommodate synchronous video conferencing and multimedia presentation. They each feature a 70-inch, wall-mounted Sharp flat-panel display for use with presentation materials, and the Management Conference Room has an additional two 55-inch wall-mounted NEC flat-panel displays for video conferencing. A flip-top cable enclosure in each conference room table has inputs for a laptop and portable AV sources. Each room features a single OFCI HD pan/tilt/zoom Sony HD1 camera. All rack-mounted equipment in both meeting rooms is housed in custom credenzas inside each room.

The Joint Information Center, which acts as the primary Public Information Office, displays the status during an emergency to enable public information officers to distribute critical updates to the general public. Electrosonic provided a ceiling-mounted Mitsubishi video/data projector as the primary display, and a wall-mounted NEC flat-panel to serve as a backdrop for press. As in the meeting rooms, this space also offers a flip-top cable enclosure and a custom equipment credenza.

Audio for the Incident Management Room, the Management Conference Room, the Operations Breakout room and the Joint Information Center is reinforced by a distributed system of ceiling-mounted Tannoy loudspeakers.

For the Director’s Office, which is intended for executive-session video conferencing, Electrosonic provided a 50-inch flat-panel display, wireless mics, and stereo loudspeakers attached to the flat panel. A Break Room is outfitted with a single wall-mounted, HD flat-panel display with built-in TV tuner, which will be used to display content via the building’s SMATV distribution system. Control of this display is done via the display’s remote control.

Electrosonic was also charged with supplying the Media Distribution System within the Telecommunications Room. As the primary head-end for the AV system throughout the facility, it includes sources such as direct broadcast satellite, off-air antenna, cable television, DVD player, OFCI WEBEOC feeds, and video conferencing codecs. The distribution system allows any source to be viewed from any location’s display or PC by using H.264 video streaming encoders/decoders. Video and audio signals are distributed from room to room and delivered to non PC-based display devices via twisted pair cabling.

In addition, Electrosonic furnished the Lobby with a single flat-panel display monitor with an embedded PC, which is connected to the building LAN and used for the creation and transmission of the signage content. In addition to being controlled by a mobile tablet like the rest of the systems in the EOC, control of the display can also be executed via an HTML page on a facility-provided PC.

“Fortunately, since we completed the project, the county has not had any incidents that required activating the Emergency Operations Center,” said Galato. “Through exercises and training, emergency management staff have used the system and found the ability to immediately share relevant information critical. We had a very good installation; the county staff was great to work with.”