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Exclusive: Control rooms: tech support services

Technology support services are crucial in control room environments. Dave Spence, director of customer and technical services for Datapath, explains why

With mission critical responsibilities, a control room environment demands total efficiency from its technology, with issues and downtime having serious consequences. Having the right technical partner to support from the start is paramount. From the design stage to pre-testing, implementation and on-going support, the partner can very often be as important as the equipment itself.

Clearly, any large AV investment benefits from a proven and reliable services offering, but in the command and control sector, there is very often more serious implications when technology does not operate in the way that is required – from loss of business to costly inconvenience or even risk to life.

With this large responsibility, plus considerable investment in system design, hardware, integration, training, and staff, it makes total sense for organisations to have reliable technology solution partners to ensure that all systems are operating correctly. An additional level of support from manufacturers, working alongside the integrator at every stage of the project, can ensure operator harmony and a robust and efficient installation.

This is perhaps the most important stage of any large installation, as the right technical partner can help to identify and eliminate any issues that will affect future performance.

Asking the right questions and understanding customers’ requirements is default in any pre-consultation:

Key requirements for operators – how many inputs and outputs? video wall and workstation sizes?  content and network security? Scalability requirements for the future?

Bill of materials (the suggested components to be purchased) for video walls and workstations and give an understanding of why they are needed.

Drawings and Specs – Offering a design of the installation, along with a 3D render of the room to see how it looks for people flow, lighting, evac procedures and so on, all helps the end-user.

Technical Commissioning of hardware and software ensures that every piece of equipment is being installed and will operate per design. Commissioning offerings vary from provider to provider, but in a Control Room environment, for reasons mentioned, the level of support needs to be comprehensive. During a commissioning phase, a ‘by your side’ offering is going to be the prime choice, with experts actually in the room to assist with installation and on-the-job training, plus quickly eliminate any technical issues.

These days, the latest video management solutions to be introduced in the Control Room space are likely to have in-built 24/7 diagnosis tools – maintaining a watchful eye on such things as CPU core temperatures, connectivity points and data rates. Good systems will also benefit from excellent failsafe measures in the hardware itself, such as auto switchovers to a second system/power supply/output should problems arise.

Obviously, the above brings peace of mind, but when issues demand strong technical knowledge, it is vital that control room environments can rely on a support structure that can overcome any technical issue. What’s more, this service needs to be as reactive as possible to reduce downtime to an absolute minimum.

System Integrators are often the first port of call in such instances, but, more commonly, manufacturers themselves are adding an additional layer of support to not only strengthen Integrators’ offering, but also to ensure end-users have the best people – those who make the technology – on hand to fix any issues.

These services differ from manufacturer to manufacturer but have been broadly welcomed by integrators who can often rely on a larger team, with comprehensive knowledge, should any issue occur. This holy trinity of integrator, manufacturer and end user ensures a harmonious business relationship, plus a fully supported end-user. A commanding offering, if ever there was one!