FBI Wall of Honor Celebrates Fallen Heroes

Interactive 55-inch touchscreen display in each office remembers those who’ve died on the job.

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A three-year-long project that started as a way to better memorialize FBI agents killed in the line of duty has resulted in more than 70 interactive kiosks at field offices around the U.S. dubbed the Wall of Honor.

The Wall of Honor was originally a static board that included basic information about each of the agents killed on duty but has developed today to an exhibit that includes photos, videos and facts about each of the people featured in the kiosks, says John Jennings, CTO and VP of Midwest operations for Trinity Video Communications, the integrator who installed the kiosks.

The conceptual design for what eventually became the Wall of Honor was created on a napkin over dinner about five years ago, says Trinity CEO Barry Sawayer, when FBI officials talked about wanting to replace their so-called Martyr Wall, which was made up mostly of 5×7 black-and-white photos of each person.

That setup, which held photos on the wall with double-sided tape, dated back to the 1980s, says FBI chief medical officer David Wade, who was put in charge of bringing the display into the 21st century.

“We tried to create something that would be fitting,” says Sawayer.

Wade and others in the bureau are proud of the final result, which included about a year of gathering photos and other artifacts and six months or so of programming.

“This was an opportunity for us to tell a much richer story about these people, all of whom are heroes,” he says.

See photos of the new digital content of the Wall of Honor.

The FBI produced the content and Trinity developed the touchscreen software, hardware and custom kiosks, then created prototypes, making changes before the final design phase. Once they were built, the kiosks were installed at FBI field, regional and home offices over a 15-month period in 2011 and 2012. Each is equipped with a 55-inch monitor and another for handicapped visitors in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This was a collaborative effort working closely with the customer to meet all the objectives, including the aesthetics of the kiosk as well as the human interface with the touch screen capability,” says Jennings. “It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved in. It’s one of those projects you feel really good about. Now, people have the full picture of what each of these people was all about and what they did for us and in their lives.”

The two most recent additions to the Wall of Honor were Chris Lorek and Stephen Shaw, special agents and members of the FBI hostage rescue team who were killed during a training accident off the coast of Virginia.

The biggest challenge for Trinity was “getting the content together to the point where everyone would sign off,” says Jennings. The FBI wanted the victims’ families involved in the creation of the content and there were 53 honorees in the original rollout, he says.

“We had to be deferential to them and do what they wanted to do with it,” says Jennings.

The Wall of Honor serves as “a great model we can apply to others,” says Jennings, pointing to state police and military applications. He noted Trinity would likely abandon using Adobe Flash if they developed a similar kiosk system, but used it with the FBI project because they wanted it to be “pixel-perfect.”

Wade wonders if the Wall of Honor could eventually be web-based.