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Date: 22 Nov 2011
Category: Digital Signage Solutions
NEC Australia, a leading communications systems integrator, together with EO Design, Australia's leading audio visual design and installation company, today announced the completion of the largest digital video wall in the Southern Hemisphere, comprising 100 LCD screens and an extensive digital signal distribution network and control system, to develop a comprehensive audio visual information centre for NSW Rural Fire Service Headquarters in Homebush.
NSWRFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the need for effective communication and operational tools was critical. "As an agency we will continue to explore any tool that will assist us in protecting communities from bushfires. As technologies evolve and expand we will endeavour to utilise all options available to us,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons stated.
The digital video wall is used for numerous purposes, but primarily as an information source to assist in organising firefighting teams and to develop emergency response plans. The facility is also used to monitor media coverage during fire response times, to assess the various statements being delivered by the media and determine what public information the RFS needs to further provide when making formal statements to advise the public and the government on vital information.
Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons states: “Our major upgrade to the NSWRFS Operations Headquarters highlights our commitment to the bush fire and emergency protection of the NSW community. By introducing a state-of-the-art video wall into the information centre, the RFS can now access and share incident information, and monitor weather data and bushfire movement in real time.”
“The benefits of these new technologies will assist the NSWRFS to deliver on our organisation’s mission; to protect the community and our environment and to minimise the impact of fire and other emergencies by providing the highest standards of training, community education, prevention and operational capability,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons concluded.
Importantly, Firefighters need to be supported by the best possible equipment and resources, to have the Headquarters use cutting edge communication and operational tools, which is why NEC Australia and EO Design were selected by NSWRFS to design and install the video wall.
André van Stom of EO Design consulted with NSWRFS in the first instance to design the system, and worked with NEC Australia to select the best possible display technology to support the solution. The EO Design team then managed the development and installation of the solution, and now provide ongoing support and service. The solution comprises of 100 NEC 46 Inch LCD energy saving screens with the entire system driven by a custom , PixelNet digital networked modular video matrix solution, AMX control system and Tannoy digitally steerable line array loudspeakers. The LCD solution represents the most effective method of displaying the vital visual information on the screen, with increased longevity by using such high quality commercial products. The digital video wall is supported by 14 computer systems, 4 dedicated servers and 32 digital video inputs including Digital Television, Sky News and a Helicopter mounted camera system which can transmit video from the fire front back to the command centre video wall.
The video wall combines the latest NEC technology "seamless" LCD displays with considerable engineering to provide a strong and safe foundation for this large, ultra high resolution, mission critical display. The video quality allows NSWRFS to make better decisions based on precise visual information.
The installation was completed in a very aggressive timeline – the installation itself was completed in 3 weeks and the entire project was finalised within 7 weeks; from receiving the purchase order til having the new system up and running live.
In a highly competitive bid, the NSWRFS looked into many alternate options, but the final solution by EO Design and NEC Australia fitted all of NSWRFS requirements. Furthermore, the flat screens use very little floor space, so having the system flat against the wall saved the headquarters nearly 2 metres of floor space, which is much needed in an emergency response period.
In the past, NSWRFS used a projector stack with 4 projectors screening the information onto a blank wall, plus large stickers outlining emergency contact details below the projection. The past solution limited the amount of information able to be displayed, was slow at uploading new information and restricted the types of data able to be presented. Now the solution provides the technology and speed to display any issues and crisis in real time, with great attention to detail in the accompanying data.
NSWRFS comprises over 2,100 volunteer rural fire brigades with a total membership of just over 70,000. In addition, salaried staff are employed to manage the day to day operations of the Service at the Headquarters in Homebush, in regional offices and at district fire control centres. The Service is responsible for structural firefighting in more than 1200 towns and villages across the state.
The NSWRFS is the lead agency in combating bushfires and enabling the community to be better prepared and protected from bushfires. Fighting fires and protecting the community from emergencies is the most visible aspect of the RFS role, although the Service has many other responsibilities. As a matter of daily routine, the NSWRFS works closely and collaboratively with government departments, rural land managers, local government, schools and the media, including Energy Australia, Telstra, Sydney Water, DOCs, RTA, Railcorp, Ambulance Service of NSW, the Department of Defence and St John Ambulance.
“This mission-critical information hub requires state of the art technology to ensure effective communications, which is why NEC was selected due to our strong brand,” states Danielle Cameron, General Manager of Digital Communications, NEC Australia. This project with Eo Design and NSWRFS showcases how NEC Australia is leading the way in the digital communications market.
“Eo Design is very proud of our innovative engineers who designed this project, as it not only highlights our leadership in the industry but our understanding of customer needs,” states Peter Guest, Managing Director, Eo Design. “We strive to be the best at what we do and our extensive experience in audio visual projects and digital signage system installations assures RFS of a successful and well built solution.”
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