Opportunities abound from adopting in-house video systems.
The past year saw substantial and significant alterations to how organizations of all sizes and types considered the use of AV. As the reality of safe social distancing set in, there was a rapid rise in telecommuting and the use of virtual workspaces, as evidenced by the swiftness with which we accepted the phrase “set up a Zoom” in our dayto-day lives.
The world of AV remains rooted in improving in-person communication. This is true as it pertains to boardrooms, classrooms, stages and arenas. Although the remote nature of work is unlikely to go away in the near future, the desire to return to an office with colleagues is strong. Our communal desire to return to live performances and experiences is palpable. We are starved for experiences outside our homes.
This sentiment should provide hope to AV integrators and contractors who struggled through a challenging year. Couple that eagerness with encouraging news about vaccine distribution and we are looking at a potentially strong return to integration activity this year.
A phased-in approach to this is likely. The phrase “hybrid model” has become common across all verticals. Thus, integrators who make their trade in the onsite integration of AV systems must be ready to offer solutions that present new capabilities—especially in the video realm.
These solutions should consider the following ideas:
- Taking current video components that are broadcasting out of a building and turning them inward to on-premises assets for communication. Many entities added an external communication layer to their strategy over the past year. This must be repurposed to encourage onsite video, as well.
- Setting up onsite AV systems that can be quickly pivoted to remote or hybrid use, if the need for social distancing reemerges in the future. Although this doesn’t have to be seen as a primary use, it should be seen as a form of fault tolerance. If physical spaces are no longer functional, can an AV system still improve organizational goals? The answer is yes. Thus, all new integrations should offer this flexibility to pivot operationally.
The magic in this approach is that it encourages and improves AV use within the walls of an organization, even as some will still be thinking of their remote-communication needs. It’s possible to provide the traditional, long-term gains from AV that we’ve been discussing for years with end users while, at the same time, enabling an immediate, hybrid-model-driven return to our physical spaces—a return that’s considerate of individuals who are sure still to be cautious about personal space.
All of this, of course, plays into that redefinition of “fault tolerance” that many will be seeking. The approach I’m describing, by allowing for quick changes in communications structure, helps organizations minimize risk. And, in truth, AV systems have more value now than ever before. What follows are some examples from the past year.
House Of Worship
Worship spaces quickly pivoted to external video offerings when the pandemic struck. These video assets do not have to disappear as we return to services; rather, they can be repurposed in multiple ways.
First, integrators can utilize these live-video-production systems for the provision of video and audio assets to overflow rooms. If a main worship space reaches capacity, there might not be a need to turn folks away at the door. Separate spaces in the facility can be quickly set up by adding a display and access to the network.
Second, the long-term use of video in the house-of-worship space has always had an on-premises component. Adding a display to the main stage—even in a worship space that is small to medium-sized—and broadcasting a produced version of the service not only helps those in the congregation see better but also allows for additional multimedia components, such as slides and video. In fact, you can even flip the “broadcast” concept on its head and bring in participants from outside the house of worship to take part. Missionaries, for example, can connect with their home congregation live and direct via a video feed. Or it might make sense to add a camera to the overflow spaces and peek in during service, thus allowing all to feel more connected under the same roof.
We’ll see many of the uses listed above mirrored in the education vertical, as well. Planning for hybrid-learning models makes sense in both the near term and the long term across all grades. A live-video-production system can provide video capabilities across multiple classrooms or, in the case of higher education, across multiple campuses. This not only changes access to education for students at satellite locations of institutions but also may allow class-size limitations to be reconsidered.
Lecture capture is another tool likely to be in demand going forward. What was once seen as a “nice to have” suddenly seems like a “should be simple to have” after a year of online learning.
Furthermore, these live-production tools can become curriculum elements themselves, offering students handson coursework in AV, production and broadcast elements.
The corporate world has many uses for in-house live video. Many organizations in the pre-pandemic world found live-video-production systems valuable in settings like human resources and training. Corporate communications were enhanced, as well.
Linking multiple conference rooms together with video was also a key use in the enterprise space. That need is likely to be on the rise, too, with people remaining highly cognizant of personal space. Thus, multiple offices, breakout rooms, cafeterias, common spaces and meeting spots can all be linked together, which means a meeting never has to leave someone out of the loop. This is huge for corporations, for which a breakdown in communication could quickly cascade into more troubling issues.
Tech That Integrators Must Embrace
In addition to understanding how video assets vastly improve internal comms across these key spaces, it is also important to note one of the main enablers is AV-over-IP. Most will already know and embrace the benefits of this technology. However, it is incredibly important to use in these environments.
Using standard network infrastructure to transfer media signals greatly decreases the costs associated with the integration of, or the adaptation of, such systems. There is no need to run new cabling across a building if standard 1Gb networks are in place (many organizations already have these installed). NDI is the current leader in the live-video-production space for IP connectivity. It is free to use, and it can send video signals over a preexisting network.
The Value Of Partnership
Let’s recap the benefits of bringing video systems into on-premises AV integrations:
- Live-video-production systems enable access to information for more people onsite, offsite and through recorded assets.
- This, in turn, creates a more connected organization with a higher level of communication and understanding.
- These systems can be used as valuable presentation enhancements and even as learning tools.
- These systems offer end users the additional value of fault tolerance moving forward.
The integrator’s and contractor’s role in these coming integrations is mission critical. It is their job to take systems that, over the past year, have been set up quickly and, now, improve upon those systems to ensure AV plays its important role in our return to a world outside our homes. This extends beyond the three verticals outlined earlier, too.
We must begin considering how we can adapt the above uses to entertainment spaces, transportation hubs, retail environments, government facilities and more.
This, of course, requires collaboration along with integration. The system installers should not only be focusing on long-term partnerships with their clients but also be expecting end-toend service and support from the manufacturers providing the tools for these systems. If we make that connection, then the near-term and long-term solutions this year and beyond will provide more robust and meaningful communication for all.
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