It took almost ten years and about $13.5 million for Mayor Mark Hackel’s vision of helping Macomb County emergency officials respond more effectively to come to fruition, but the results are eye opening.
The heart of the new 25,000-square-foot, 24/7 space is a 20-by-50-foot video wall, the largest such structure in North America.
The state-of-the-art Communications and Technical Operations (COMTEC) Center brought together four departments in southeast Michigan — the Sheriff ‘s Office Centralized Dispatch, the Road Department Traffic Operations Center, the Information Technology Department and Data Center, and the Emergency Management & Communications Department — to help them monitor, manage, prevent, protect and respond to emergencies in a renovated and expanded space that also includes two new high-tech conference rooms.
BlueWater Technologies of Southfield, Michigan got involved with the project because of its longstanding relationship with Partners in Architecture, which designed the space early in 2012, with a grand opening late in 2013.
3 Integrator Takeaways:
1. Insist on getting involved early. It gives a voice in what system gets installed and allows you to be part of any changes that happen to the plans.
2. Big projects don’t always mean big problems. If you find a client with an open mind and eye toward the future, you’re likely to be able to create a solution that includes the latest technology for them.
3. Good work brings more work. Especially on high-profile installations.
3 End User Takeaways:
1. Communication produces better projects. And it avoids relying on quick changes later.
2. High-tech doesn’t always mean high- cost. Trust the integrator to find the best solution when you tell him the capabilities you want.
3. Spread the word. If you find an integrator who does good work, don’t try to keep them all to yourselves.
Audio: Crestron, Extron, Liberty
Cameras: Cisco & Tandberg
Video Wall: Barco
Installation started in September 2013 with prep work and the equipment went in a couple of months later. The plans went through “many rounds of revisions,” says Ken Box, integration design and programming department head for BlueWater, but “for a project of this size, that’s pretty typical. We got in early and that was important.”
The director of Emergency Management & Communications stressed the need for special attention to the versatility of the technology and communications systems when the users need to respond to emergency situations that occur locally, regionally or nationally.
In the future, the center will also be able to accept and integrate with other systems as well as live feeds from mobile command vehicles, private businesses and schools.
The COMTEC video wall is composed of 54 70-inch individual LED monitors with more than 50 unique display variations, capable of displaying weather and GPS mapping; television and cable stations; live video from Road Department and Michigan Department of Transportation cameras at intersections throughout the county; siren alerts; computer displays and video conferencing.
COMTEC is home to dispatch operations for three of the county’s largest law-enforcement agencies: the Macomb County Sheriff Department and the Clinton Township and Sterling Heights police departments.
Today, traffic engineers along with law enforcement and emergency management personnel are able to monitor intersections throughout Macomb County with cameras and adjust traffic signals based on what those cameras show. They can also monitor and alert emergency responses for severe weather to countywide emergencies and provide coordinated responses.
BlueWater Technologies also provided programming for a Crestron touchpanel to simplify the use of a high-source, high-video window layout based on need, audience and urgency. There are nine unique layouts and presets, which were created after conversations with potential users.