Installations, Video

Futureproofing Emergency Operations

Riverside CA’s East County EOC was designed for expansion.

As any security professional will tell you, it’s a never-ending job. You’d certainly hear the same from the professionals who staff the hundreds of state and county emergency operations centers (EOCs) that dot the US. At one, in particular—in Riverside County CA—it’s the EOC itself that’s preparing for its future, laying an infrastructure foundation for future upgrades from day one. The facility, which was originally budgeted at $1 million, but which was later value-engineered to about two-thirds that amount, is a continuing work in progress. As John Bilar, VP of Technology at Spectrum ITC Group, the consultancy that designed and specified the project, said, “[It’s] a marathon, not a sprint.”

The project took a former sheriff’s office substation in an existing county building and adapted it as the county’s second EOC, dubbed the East County EOC, located in Indio CA. It’s intended to act either independent of or in concert with the EOC in the city of Riverside CA, which serves the west side of the state’s fourth-largest county. (They are connected via WebEOC, a proprietary, web-based crisis-management software that also loops in other local agencies, such as fire and police, for coordinated countywide responses.)

The East County EOC project just took a former sheriff’s office substation in an existing county building and adapted it as the county’s second EOC, located in Indio CA and intended to act either independently of, or in concert with, the EOC in the city of Riverside CA that serves the west side of the county.

The East County EOC’s preparations for future upgrades are reflected most immediately in the room’s videowall, which is composed of a 4×4 grouping of 16 NEC 55-inch displays, although the design specification calls for that wall to have a total of 32 such displays. As part of the initial phase of the project, all 32 displays have been provisioned for in the form of cable infrastructure behind the wall, with the additional displays to be added in a second phase that has yet to be officially scheduled. “The best time to put infrastructure in is at the very beginning, when the walls are already open,” Bilar stated.

The East County EOC might have been the second such facility in Riverside County, but it’s not “second city” by any means. Brooke Federico, Senior Public Information Specialist for the County of Riverside Emergency Management Department, which operates both facilities, said that the East County EOC is the first with a videowall. It’s drawn appreciative notice from the journalists who’ve viewed it, as well as from those who’ve used the venue for training and situation monitoring.

Each of the colored vests represents a management element of the EOC. For example, there’s the green Finance and Administration vest and the red Operations Chief vest.

Of the two facilities, the East County EOC is located closer to the annual Coachella and Stagecoach music festival sites, both of which are in Riverside County. Last year, during the festivals, the East County EOC was activated and worked with local fire, police and EMS in a standby mode. According to Federico, however, the most important thing is the EOC’s ability to take in, manage and display a multitude of critical AV sources flexibly during emergencies.

“[This space has] given us the ability to monitor a wealth of sources in a single place, from which we can better manage anything that needs immediate attention,” Federico affirmed. “The videowall is great, and we’re very happy with how the entire facility operates. Whenever we’ve needed it, it’s been ready.”

‘A Blank Shell’

The wiring and infrastructure stage was also when the AV integrator on the project, ENKO Systems, based in San Bernardino CA, was brought in. The team found the space to be “a blank shell,” according to Greg Martin, AV Systems Engineer/Programmer on the project. That’s something that many integrators would usually welcome. However, as budget reductions compelled value-engineering-based revisions, the integrator had to find clever ways to accomplish a great deal, while spending less. “The first challenge was how we would be able to build a wall that took in many different sources—from cable, to satellite, to over-the-air (OTA) video, as well as AM and FM radio and streaming—and let them all be viewed and controlled easily,” Martin recalled. It was a hurdle with multiple facets, beginning even before the first run of copper was put into place. (In fact, budgetary constraints compelled the use of copper throughout, rather than using the Dante network format.) Bilar recalled having to battle with the local satellite and cable providers about something that residential customers surely understand—unbundling unwanted channels.

An adjacent conference room has a view of the EOC through a window, similar to the control room.

“The first thing they asked us was, ‘How many television sets do you have?,’ as if this was someone’s living room they were putting cable into,” Bilar recalled. “It was hard to get them to understand that we needed a drop with a very specific bunch of [news and information] channels, including broadcast channels.” This had to take the form of what’s known as a Clear-QAM—a modulation scheme that allows the RF transmission of digital TV channels in the clear (i.e., unencrypted and unbundled from other cable or satellite channels). Those channels would provide backup for the OTA iterations of the same channels, which had to rely on external antennas—hardware that is vulnerable to lightning strikes in Indio’s desert location.

“We actually had to go to the local franchise authority to make that happen,” Bilar continued. And Martin recalled Dish Network being particularly obtuse on the matter, with the satellite service’s technicians and sales personnel unable to see past residential-type customer needs. “They asked, ‘Where’s the television?’ and we said, ‘It’s in the rack, and there’s 32 of them,’” he sighed. “It was a learning experience.”

Managing Video Sources

Video sources also play a large part in the programming of the EOC’s control system, which is centered on Crestron’s DigitalMedia (DM) platform. Martin said the challenge here was organizing the multitudes of inputs, and the variety of formats they come in on, in a way that would be intuitive to the EOC’s users. Given the nature of emergency facilities that might be unused for months at a time, users might not have training on—or even a passing familiarity with—the systems. However, in the event of an emergency, they will have to get up to speed on them in possibly a matter of minutes. (The facility was activated as recently as this past November, when a voluntary flood evacuation was issued for San Jacinto Mountains communities in the area of last year’s Cranston fire.)

Martin, working in tandem with his colleague, certified Crestron programmer Robert Conrad, programmed the control desk’s large Crestron touchscreen to use the logo icons for individual cable and broadcast networks, whose news broadcasts would supply the EOC with much of its operational information. If a user wants to see what ABC is reporting on a particular matter, he or she simply touches that particular button—with the network’s logo on the screen—after being granted permission by a facility manager. That same control screen allows the facility manager, seated at a separate desk in the rear of the room, to configure individual screens in a picture-in-picture format, mimicking how the main wall’s array of 16 screens can be configured. Those options include a single 4×4-unit videowall display, four 2×2-unit displays and a 3×3-unit display, with the remaining screens available as supports around it. Those options can be effectuated by the user simply by selecting a screen format on the master controller.

ENKO Systems’ certified programmer programmed the EOC control desk’s large touchscreen using the logo icons for individual cable and broadcast networks. Those news broadcasts supply the EOC with much of its operational information.

Users can also choose from which video source to view a chosen input. For instance, if the ABC network feed from the broadcast input fails, then the user can instantly switch to that same network through the satellite feed. “They never know when this room is going to be used or who is going to use it,” Martin declared, “so the programming is designed so that you don’t need a CTS credential to operate it.” All that content will come up on the screens in one of the six “pods” of eight seats, which are arranged around rectangular desks in the middle of the room. Each seat faces an NEC 42-inch monitor on a Chief swivel mount, connected to the five main control racks through a Crestron DM receiver. Each pod has one of those monitors assigned as the master screen for that table. In addition, each seat in the pods has an Extron audio matrix switcher, which enables the user to choose an audio source that can be listened to through a pair of beyerdynamic DT 102 headphones. In addition, JBL Control 26CT ceiling speakers, which are powered by QSC two- and four-channel amplifiers, provide sound for the entire room.

Both audio and video can be accessed using a similar touchpanel controller, or other device, in any of four satellite rooms (adjacent to the main EOC) that are used for utility applications, such as huddle spaces or meeting rooms. That content comes in through coaxial cable. (The cabling in the pod area took long enough that Martin, who worked on it during a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training session, which was held in the EOC early on, actually became CERT-certified himself!)

There are six pods of eight seats, which are arranged around rectangular desks in the middle of the room. Each seat faces a 42-inch monitor on a swivel mount. Each pod has one of those monitors assigned as the master screen for that table.

Wire Management

Much of what enables all the functionality described is below everyone’s feet, under a paneled floor and atop a slab that had been saw-cut and lowered, creating an 18-inch-deep space for cabling. And there was plenty of it, according to Martin, who estimated the project team installed more than 100,000 feet of wire for audio, video and control applications. However, because copper constituted the bulk of the wire type, care had to be taken in placing which cables where. For instance, RF-shielded coaxial cable was placed in a 16-to-18-inch-wide wire basket on the far side of the under-floor space, with video cabling on the other side of the basket, as far apart as possible; that was to reduce the potential for interference. The analog audio wires were run up the middle of the baskets, and, anywhere they crossed, the wires were bent at right angles to minimize crosstalk. All the wire baskets were laid atop grounding strips, and the entire control and rack were enclosed in a halo ground system, connected at each corner of the room to an external earth-ground electrode via a separate grounding bus bar installed by an electrical subcontractor. “The EOC is out in the middle of the desert, where the air is very dry, and there are no tall buildings near it,” Martin explained. “It’s a real target for lightning strikes.”

An 18-inch-deep space for cabling holds more than 100,000 feet of wire for audio, video and control applications.

The East County EOC’s equipment choices were initially laid out nearly five years ago, reflective of the time spans that government projects can cover. However, according to Bilar, a former AV integrator himself, equipment choices for EOCs tend to be based on what has worked in those environments before. “EOCs are not the place to experiment,” he cautioned. He also used a previous project he worked on for the city of Los Angeles CA’s EOC as a kind of template for Riverside County, scaling things to fit the latter’s size and budget. At the same time, however, he always kept future expansions and upgrades in mind, with provisions to “bag and tag” some of the cabling to be installed for future applications.

Although the East County EOC will have its videowall filled out at some point in the future—there are also tentative plans to add other features to it—the facility, as it is, is more than equal to its tasks. Its copper-cable infrastructure is as robust as it needs to be, Bilar affirmed, noting that the installation techniques, such as quad shielding and extensive grounding, are as reliable as any networked infrastructure is.

“As the events of the last several years have shown, EOCs are going to be used more, not less, and they will have to manage a lot more information in real time,” he observed. “This facility can do all that. The cabling and interfaces for future phases are already in place as part of my baseline design, so they just need to hang ’em and hook them up. It’s ready to do more when the time comes.”

EQUIPMENT

16 Advanced Media Technologies DX Antenna DHM-332 FM stereo modulators
4 Avocent HMIQSHDI computer interface modules
2 Avocent HMX 1070 user stations
2 Avocent HMXMGR-G2-001 HMX management appliances
2 Avocent RMK-67 rackmount kits for HMX
14 Blonder Tongue AQT ATSC/QAM transcoders
4 Blonder Tongue AQT-PCM AQT power and control modules
4 Blonder Tongue BTF-TP male, type “F” terminators
1 Blonder Tongue BTPRO-1000 signal analyzer
1 Blonder Tongue FAM-10 fixed attenuator, type F, female
3 Blonder Tongue LA 922-15 in-line amps
1 Blonder Tongue LPD-8 8-way splitter
3 Blonder Tongue LPI 188PS power supplies (18VDC, 800mA)
3 Blonder Tongue LPI 2200 DC power inserters/power blocks
5 Blonder Tongue OC-12D passive combiners, 5-1,000MHz, 12 ports
2 Blonder Tongue OC-8D passive combiners, 5-1,000MHz, 8 ports
4 Blonder Tongue QTRC QAM transcoder rack chassis
2 Blonder Tongue RMDA 860-30P rackmounted distribution amps
1 Blonder Tongue SRT-20 directional tap, 1 output 20dB
1 Blonder Tongue SRT-6 directional tap, 1 output 6dB
1 Blonder Tongue SRT-8A-17 directional tap, 8 output 17dB
2 Blonder Tongue SRT-8A-20 directional taps, 8 output 20dB
1 Blonder Tongue SXRS-2 2-way splitter
1 Blonder Tongue SXRS-4 4-way splitter
1 Blonder Tongue SXRS-8 8-way splitter
16 Blonder Tongue ZFMSM agile FM stereo modulators
8 BTX CD-MX15M MaxBlox HD15 male to terminal block connectors
28 BTX CD-MX915H MaxBlox clamshell hoods
20 BTX CD-MX9F MaxBlox DB9 female to terminal block connectors
1 CDS MM04CS-4×8 Atlas monitor mounting solution (MMS)
1 CDS PANEL-OPT optional panels (black laminated MDF cladding)
2 Channel Master CM 4220HD outdoor TV antennas
1 Channel Master CM 4221HD 4-bay HDTV/UHF digital outdoor TV antenna
1 Channel Master CM 5016 HD/VHF/UHF 15 element antenna
2 Cisco SG300-20 20-port gigabit managed switches
24 CommScope 242948 standard grounding kits
8 Contemporary Research 232-ATSC 4 HDTV tuners
1 Contemporary Research 5008-001 single rack kit
6 Contemporary Research 5008-015 dual side-by-side rackmounts (1RU)
1 Contemporary Research QMOD-HDMI 2 HDTV modulator and IPTV encoder
4 Contemporary Research QMOD-YPB 2 HDTV modulators and IPTV encoders
6 Crestron C3COM-3 3-Series control cards – 3 COM ports
2 Crestron CEN-SWPOE-16 16-port managed PoE switches
1 Crestron DM-8G-CONN-WG-100 connectors w/wire guide for DM-CBL-8G DigitalMedia 8G cable
10 Crestron DMC-4K-CO-HD 2-channel HDBaseT certified 4K DigitalMedia 8G+ output cards
13 Crestron DMC-4K-HD 4K HDMI input cards for DM switchers
8 Crestron DM-CBL-8G-P-SP1000 DigitalMedia 8G+ cable, plenum, 1,000′ spools
3 Crestron DMC-C HDBaseT certified DigitalMedia 8G+ input cards
4 Crestron DMC-DVI DVI/VGA input cards
1 Crestron DMC-HDO 2-channel HDMI output card
1 Crestron DM-MD32x32 32×32 DigitalMedia switcher
18 Crestron DM-RMC-SCALER-C DigitalMedia 8G+ receivers and room controllers w/scalers
1 Crestron DM-TX-200-C-2G-WT wallplate DigitalMedia 8G+ transmitter (white, textured)
5 Crestron DM-TX-201-C DigitalMedia 8G+ transmitters
12 Crestron IRP2 IR emitter probes w/terminal block connectors
2 Crestron PRO3 3-Series control systems
1 Crestron TPMC-V15-TILT-B V-Panel integrated 15″ tilt HD touchscreen
1 Crestron TPMC-V15-WALL-B V-Panel integrated 15″ wall-mount HD touchscreen
1 Denon DN-500BD Blu-ray, DVD and CD player
2 Extron DMP 44 LC 4×4 digital matrix processors
1 Extron MAV Plus 3232 AV 32×32 composite video and stereo audio matrix switcher
1 Extron RSF 123 1RU 3.5″-deep rackshelf kit (gray)
1 Fostex RM-3 rackmount speaker system
1 FSR DSKB-2G 2-gang desktop mounting box
6 Furman CN-2400S 20A SmartSequencing power conditioners
2 Gefen 1:10 HDMI 1.3 distribution amps
5 Gefen GTB-HDBT-POL-BLK HDBaseT extenders for HDMI via Cat5e or Cat6 cables
5 General Cable W7131761 unshielded category cables (white)
24 JBL Control 26CT-LS ceiling speaker assemblies
6 Kramer AD-DF/DF/RA DVI-I (F) to DVI-I (F) right-angled gender changers
8 Kramer C-HM/DM-3 HDMI (M) to DVI (M) cables (3′)
10 Kramer C-HM/HM/PRO-20 high-speed HDMI cables w/Ethernet
4 Kramer C-USB/AAE-6 USB 2.0 A (M) to A (F) extension cables (6′)
1 Listen Technologies LA-122 universal antenna kit
3 Listen Technologies LA-128 RG-8 BNC connectors
4 Listen Technologies LA-164 ear speakers
1 Listen Technologies LA-321-01 8-unit portable RF product charging/carrying case (gray)
1 Listen Technologies LA-326 universal rackmounting kit
4 Listen Technologies LA-362 rechargeable AA NiMH batteries
4 Listen Technologies LR-400-072 portable display RF receivers
1 Listen Technologies LT-800-072-01 stationary RF transmitter (72MHz)
5 Middle Atlantic BB-44-1 copper bus bars (44RU, 1″W)
1 Middle Atlantic BOND-G24 rack ganging/bonding kit (24 pieces)
2 Middle Atlantic CLB-10 cable ladders
2 Middle Atlantic CLB-90HB 90° horizontal ladder bends
3 Middle Atlantic CLB-CSB ladder center support brackets
1 Middle Atlantic CLB-VI90 90° vertical inside ladder bend
6 Middle Atlantic CL-GK cable ladder bonding kits
7 Middle Atlantic CLH-ARD12 adjustable rung drops w/spools (12″W)
5 Middle Atlantic CLH-ELS-13/18 cable ladder elevation kits (13″-18″)
1 Middle Atlantic CLH-HTS horizontal 90° tee splice kits
1 Middle Atlantic CLH-RSJ-6 ladder end splice kit (6 pieces)
1 Middle Atlantic CLH-WRS-6 ladder wall support bracket (12″W, 6 pieces)
2 Middle Atlantic EB1-CP12 blank panels (1RU, steel, flanged, 12 pieces)
1 Middle Atlantic GANG-10 ganging hardware
2 Middle Atlantic IEC-12X20 IEC power cords (12″, 20 pieces)
3 Middle Atlantic LACE-44-OWP lace strips (44RU, 4.75″W, w/ties)
2 Middle Atlantic LBP-1A L-shaped horizontal lacer bars (10-pack)
5 Middle Atlantic LVFD-44 vented-front-door, 44RU racks
5 Middle Atlantic MW-10FT-FC fan tops, 550 CFM, w/controllers
2 Middle Atlantic PD-815SC-PBSH shelf mount power strips (8 outlets, 15A)
5 Middle Atlantic PDT-1015C-M-NS power strips (10 outlets, 15A)
1 Middle Atlantic RM-KB-LCD17 rackmount LCD keyboard touchpad
1 Middle Atlantic SPN-44-312 side panel for 44RU, 31″-32″D racks
1 Middle Atlantic SRB-1-WRK-3224 seismic riser base (1 bay, 32″D)
2 Middle Atlantic SRB-2-WRK-3224 seismic riser bases (2 bay, 32″D)
5 Middle Atlantic WRK-44-32 WRK Series racks (44RU, 32″D)
5 Middle Atlantic WRK-Z4 seismic floor anchor brackets
1 NEC EA192M-BK 19″ eco-friendly desktop monitor
1 NEC EA224WMI-BK, 22″ LED-backlit eco-friendly widescreen desktop monitor
6 NEC V552-AVT 55″ high-performance LED-backlit commercial-grade displays
16 NEC X464UN-2 46″ LED-backlit ultra-narrow-bezel professional-grade large-screen displays
40 Neutrik NC3FXX-B 3-pole F cable connectors w/black metal housing, gold contacts
5 Neutrik NC3MXX-B 3-pole M cable connectors w/black metal housing, gold contacts
12 Panduit CJ688TGEI UTP jack modules
8 Panduit CJ688TGVL UTP jack modules
1 Panduit CPPKL6G24WBL patch panel kit – UTP
10 Panduit GACB-1 auxiliary cable brackets
40 Panduit P6-8R-E loose piece ring terminals
6 Panduit SCT2/0-2/0 compression connectors– splices
6 Panduit SCT2-2 copper “T” splices
5 Premier Mounts GB-AVSTOR3 ceiling equipment storage units
6 Premier Mounts P4263T universal tilting wall mounts (black)
1 QSC CX204V 4-channel 70V power amp
1 QSC CX302V 2-channel 70V power amp
5 RCI Custom Products BP-2 2RU black anodized aluminum flat panels
1 RCI Custom Products BP-8 8RU black anodized aluminum flat panel
2 RDL STM-2 adjustable gain mic preamps
16 Rolls RS81 rackmount quartz PLL synthesized AM/FM tuners
2 Shure MX418/C 18″ cardioid gooseneck mics
1 Shure MX418D/C 18″ desktop cardioid gooseneck mic
1 ToteVision LED-1906HDMTR 19″ rackmount HD LCD TV monitor
1 West Penn Wire 210454GY1000 miniature dual-channel audio cable
2 West Penn Wire 25226BBK1000 14/2 plenum speaker cables (1,000′)
3 West Penn Wire 253CRGBBK1000 plenum miniature RGB coaxial cables
1 West Penn Wire 25Q821NT1000 plenum RG11/U type CATV coaxial cable quad-shield
5 West Penn Wire 25Q841BK1000 RG6/U type CATV coaxial plenum cables (1,000′)
300 West Penn Wire CN-F6MCV RG6 plenum “F” crimps
60 West Penn Wire CN-FS11V RG11 “F” type compression connectors
100 West Penn Wire CN-NYS373-RD RCA phono connectors (red)
100 West Penn Wire CN-NYS373-WH RCA phono connectors (white)
100 West Penn Wire CN-RCP-RGB compression RCA connectors
1 West Penn Wire D25291GY1000 data-grade cable
4 West Penn Wire D25293GY1000 data-grade cables
12 West Penn Wire D25430GY1000 data-grade cables
1 West Penn Wire TL-548G lever compression tool
1 West Penn Wire TL-CCT-SS59/11 compression tool
1 West Penn Wire TL-CSST strip tool
1 West Penn Wire TL-PS11 strip tool
1 West Penn Wire TL-SNSA ratchet-style compression tool

List is edited from information supplied by Spectrum ITC Group and ENKO Systems.

A view of the systems maintenance screen in the EOC’s rack room. There are five main control racks.
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