Jonathan Schultz, Emergency Services Director for Niagara County, N.Y., says the county’s video wall technology is easy to use. “It’s set up like a control panel. Just drag and drop from any desktop.”

State and Local Officials See Details Clearly with Video Walls

Putting data and info on a big screen facilitates rapid decision-making from operations centers to legislative chambers.

When your county is home to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, you’re gonna need a bigger video screen.

That was the main reason the Office of Emergency Services in Niagara County, N.Y., this year installed two video walls from CineMassive. The department serves a moderately sized population of about 217,000, but staff members have a colossal amount of responsibility.

“We’re not a huge county, but it includes Niagara Falls, which brings 15 to 20 million visitors a year,” says Jonathan Schultz, emergency services director for Niagara County. “Plus, we sit on an international border.”

Several years ago, government entities were one of the largest purchasers of video walls, according to market research firm Technavio. As prices go down and features increase, state and local governments still represent a large portion of the market, along with corporations, education and healthcare.

In a report by Commercial Integrator on the 2019 market for video walls, Jonathan Brawn of Brawn Consulting notes that the technology is a well-established tool in command centers: “Back in the day when video walls first started emerging … they were still predominantly the domain of command-and-control and network operations centers and those kinds of very specific targeted applications.”

Today, the advanced control and display capabilities, along with sophisticated technologies such as artificial intelligence, make video walls an even more valuable tool. 

MORE FROM STATETECH: Discover how public safety agencies use video wall technology.

Niagara County Uses Video Walls to Manage Emergency Operations 

In Niagara County, the emergency services department purchased two new video walls from CineMassive to supplement several smaller legacy displays.

“We have two large screens in front and two small ones in the back of the EOC room. We also have one in the hallway and one in the command room,” Schultz says of the setup for his emergency operations and management facility.

The screens are used mainly by the fire and emergency services teams, who can work in conjunction with the police department and sheriff’s office if needed.

Jonathan Schultz, Emergency Services Director for Niagara County, N.Y.
Now we can show up to 18 screens at a time, and manipulate the images vertically, horizontally — any way we want to.”

Jonathan Schultz Emergency Services Director for Niagara County, N.Y.

The two new video walls each consist of six screens in a horizontal array measuring 10 feet wide by about 4.5 feet tall. The wall can display images from a variety of sources including webcams installed across the county, weather channels, national news, and map and logistical data.

“We used to be able to display just one image at a time,” Schultz says. “Now we can show up to 18 screens at a time, and manipulate the images vertically, horizontally — any way we want to.”

Schultz laughs when asked if the wall is easy to manage.

“I can even figure it out — that shows you how easy it is,” Schultz says of CineMassive’s CineNet software. “It’s set up like a control panel. Just drag and drop from any desktop.”

Although the department hasn’t had any dire emergencies since the video walls were installed, they’ve proved valuable for training.

“We have the second-largest chemical plant in New York in our county, and a spill could affect major population areas,” Shultz explains. “We did a simulation of a spill taking into account weather and communication with other agencies and put all of that information on the screens, and it worked great.

The agency did not have to upgrade any of its current technology to put the video walls into action. “It runs on Microsoft Windows, and we didn’t have to upgrade anything,” says Shultz.

MORE FROM STATETECH: Discover the operational benefits of public safety tech innovations. 

Sandy Springs Gains Efficient Traffic Management Services

The Sandy Springs (Ga.) City Hall also employs two CineMassive CineView LCD video walls: one for traffic management and one for emergency services.

Marty Martin, director of public works, says the system plays a large role in the city’s mission to increase situational awareness.

“The video wall technology gives us the opportunity to compose visual information and take real-time camera input and other sources — online, live TV and active programming — and put it all in a single place for everyone to see at the same time,” Martin says.

43%

Percentage of clients installing video walls in command and control centers, according to a survey of integrators

Source: commercialintegrator.com, “The Video Walls Market in 2019,” Feb. 21, 2019

If staff in the traffic management center sees an accident via one of the city’s cameras, he or she can reprogram signals and traffic patterns on the fly to resolve the issue. Last year, during a small snowstorm, TMC staff monitored intersections and talked to police about where to send officers.

“The visual component is key,” Martin says. “We didn’t have to wait for people to go to the intersection and validate the situation. We have about 500 cameras throughout the city, and we can coordinate additional resources with the emergency management department.”

Sandy Springs Fire Chief Keith Sanders describes how his team in the city’s emergency operations center combines advanced analytics with the CineMassive wall in the EOC.

“We have outdoor concerts that draw about 2,000 people on Friday nights, and we’re able to run them with a scaled-down security crew,” Sanders says. “It’s a very open venue, but we have several cameras onsite to see all angles. Once, a person in a white vehicle hit a fountain and drove off. We were able to analyze the live feed and strip away every color but white, and we found the vehicle.”

The video wall also allows the EOC team to alert people of weather events.

“Lightning is a big issue for us,” Sanders says. “If we see lightning within 10 miles of the event, we have time to warn the public and clear the area.”

MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out how cities use intelligent transportation tools to manage extreme weather.

Florida Enhances Legislative Deliberations with Video Wall

Florida’s state capitol building, in Tallahassee, hadn’t updated its senate chamber since 1978. In 2016, the chamber underwent a major overhaul, including the addition of a  Planar DirectLight LED video wall system. Senate President Bill Galvano says it’s a great improvement over the old, prerenovation projection system.

“During session, we have a significant amount of legislative business to conduct in a short period of time,” Galvano says. “The video wall is easily viewed from various vantage points on the Senate floor, which helps our chamber maintain a steady and efficient pace as we consider various pieces of legislation and amendments.”

Galvano sees the video wall not only as a means to improve efficiency in the Senate, but also as a tool that promotes better decision-making.

“The wall promotes a collaborative and collegial atmosphere as Senators can move more freely throughout the chamber, rather than being tied to a personal laptop or tablet,” Galvano says. “With the upcoming 2020 census and 2022 redistricting cycle, Senators will be considering legislation that creates detailed maps of House, Senate and congressional districts. I believe the Senate’s investment in our video wall will help enhance the discussion and debate of that legislation on the floor.”

Photography by Matt Wittmeyer
Oct 01 2019

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