In January of 2009, the City of Tallahassee and Leon County signed a memorandum to build a facility that would pull together emergency services for the two entities. Five years later, the Tallahassee-Leon County Public Safety Complex is open and showing off some impressive technology.
“The Tallahassee-Leon County Public Safety Complex is a composite from two political subdivisions,” says Carl Morgan, Operations Manager for the facility. “The City of Tallahassee and Leon County were the two parties in the contract contributing 50-percent of the total project development cost.”
The primary reason was to consolidate the two independent 911 centers that existed in the city and county. Prior to the creation of the complex, one center dispatched Tallahassee police and fire departments while the other dispatched the Leon County Sherriff Organization and emergency services. As the centers were in two separate locations, calls coming in had to be transferred between the two depending on need.
As the concept progressed, the city and county decided to co-locate all of the emergency service components into a centralized common facility, giving them the ability to share information and collaborate. The new facility was constructed with the help of an architectural and engineering design team. Once the building was constructed, AVI-SPL was brought in to create a control room video wall.
“We basically put out a conceptual design of what we wanted the AV system to be, and AVI-SPL to some degree acted as a consultant finalizing the product,” says Morgan.
The complex would need a large video wall to manage over 130 traffic control cameras in the community. They wanted a second large video wall to provide situational awareness information to the Emergency Operations Center, the Transportations Management Group, and the Consolidated 911 Center. The complex decided on two 3-by-7 Mitsubishi tiled video walls.
“The traffic management center was very specific on what they wanted for a whole solution,” says Art Paquet, Design Engineer for AVI-SPL. “The public safety complex, as far as the video wall goes, were following their lead. They wanted things to match between the two walls.”
The complex decided on Jupiter Systems for the video wall controllers. The video walls allow for live streaming of the high definition cameras that run along the I-10 corridor highway. In addition, every desktop was hooked into the system to allow for each to throw local operator content onto the video wall to share. Jupiter has good support for video streams, so allowing the live streams from the traffic cameras as well as allowing the desktops to connect to the system wasn’t a difficult task.
The visualization and collaboration system that accompanies the traffic management wall is the true gem of this project. It was an open spec that used industry standard encoders and decoders, where everything is encoded on the network and can be shared anywhere on the county network or connected county networks where multicast is available. So any content that is sourced from within the complex theoretically can be shared anywhere on the county’s network in real time, remotely.
“There were a few technical issues that we ran into,” says Jon Hansen, Project Manager for the AVI-SPL Control Room Group. “A lot of it has to do with the video systems, people want them on their networks instead of having separate networks for AV. Typically our greatest challenge is trying to marry the two and making sure their network is running the way it need to in order to work with the AV video streams. That was a minor issue but we worked through that.”
Now that the system is up and running, the capabilities are proving to be very useful. When a disaster occurs, whether it be a law enforcement issue, a weather issue, or a traffic issue, the 911 center on the second floor receives the notification and informs the emergency operation center, which has the capability to deal with it, across the hall. The emergency operations center displays the necessary information on-screen (weather reports online, live traffic feeds, documentation, protocols, etc.) with full control of configuration and content. When the issue grows large, the command conference room between the two rooms takes over to manage the situation, bringing together leadership from all of the necessary response departments in Tallahassee and Leon County.
“What we were trying to do was have an open sharing of information across all of the political and divisional boundaries within this facility,” says Morgan. “Our objective was to make the exchange of information as free and as open as we could.”
The City of Tallahassee and Leon County are benefitting greatly from that free and open information, able to respond and act more quickly than ever in the case of emergencies. The video walls are a large part of that process working correctly.