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Seeing the Difference

18 March 2011

Visual communications in the workplace is the next big thing for effective organisations, and it is capable of linking to other building systems. Dan Goldstein looks at the best way to implement and manage an AV solution

IT IS ALMOST EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK. From the digital signage that welcomes visitors in the reception area of a council chamber or courtroom, to the interactive whiteboards in schools, the video archiving of x-ray and operation data in hospitals, and the projection systems and audio guides of modern museums.
Audiovisual or ‘AV’ technology was once the sole preserve of the meeting room or auditorium, where overhead projectors or 35mm slide carousels ‘enhanced’ the presentation experience, before being supplanted by the now ubiquitous Powerpoint. Today, many enterprises use audio and video in ways that could not have been imagined even a decade ago – to improve
communication, raise productivity levels, and much more.
Yet few facilities managers have developed a clear strategy for ensuring that they adopt best practice when buying and using AV technologies. Many purchasing decisions havebeen made on a piecemeal basis, with little thought being given to system performance, its future upgradability, or its maintenance overtime.
Controlling costs
While the appropriate design and installation of a facility’s AV system will ensure that costs are controlled at the purchase stage, what many FMs need to know is how to budget for their system to be properly maintained over time.
Many qualified AV installers now offer maintenance contracts as part of their service, and indeed the surest way of accurately budgeting for total cost of ownership is to assign the job of maintenance to the supplier that originally specified the system. Not only will the technology have been specified with minimal maintenance in mind, but the supplier will be more intimately familiar with all the individual products involved.
What many FMs are now realising is that the competencies of AV specialists now extend far beyond merely managing the costs of the AV system. The same skills that allow lights to be dimmed automatically when a presentation begins can also be leveraged to provide automated lighting control for an entire building,
thereby further reducing costs and contributing to a lower-carbon building. And it doesn’t stop at the lights – heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and more can all be brought under centralised control and management, slashing operating costs and increasing operational efficiency still further.
As the cost of AV equipment has come down, many companies have begun to paint themselves as specialists in the field despite having relatively little expertise. In the end, there is only one way to be sure of a correctly delivered project and a high quality of service, and that is to use the services of suppliers that have earned recognised certification.
Certification
A not-for-profit organisation, InfoComm International is the world’s largest professional body representing the AV community. Through its CTS certification programme, it seeks to ensure that those who buy AV products receive a system that meets their needs, that is properly accounted for and that is correctly maintained over time.
InfoComm has offered its CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) programme for more than 30 years, and every year certifies more qualified AV professionals than anyone else.
InfoComm's certifications are the only AV credentials to achieve accreditation through the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) ISO/IEC 17024 certification of personnel.
InfoComm’s CTS programme assesses individuals against peer-developed standards of competencies; provides an assessment (exam) that is independent of any specific course or curriculum; enhances continued competency through ongoing renewal requirements; and requires adherence to a code of ethics.
For end customers, CTS certification provides evidence that the holder is a practising AV professional with proven competencies in designing, specifying, installing and maintaining audiovisual systems to the highest standards.
Dan Goldstein is the International PR Manager for InfoComm International. DanG@infocomm.org


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