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Inside an Operation Center’s Switch from Desktops to Video Walls

Iowa Communications Network leverages Christie flat panels and Christie Phoenix nodes to create carrier-grade monitoring center.

CI Staff

Desktop or video wall?

That is increasingly the question for operations centers or command and control centers looking to provide solutions for critical video monitoring.

At Iowa Communications Network (ICN), a state-owned telecommunications network with over 8,000 miles of owns and leased fiber optics and copper cable providing broadband access to government, education, public safety and health care sectors in Iowa, its answer was simple: Out with the desktops and in with the video walls for its new Visual Presence Monitoring Systems within its Broadband Information Center (BRIC).

“I wanted to create a visual operations center for the advanced layer support of our operations network, but we didn’t have a suitable place to monitor and do it in a way that I felt was carrier-grade. Establishing the Broadband Information Center came out of that desire,” says Ric Lumbard, ICN executive director, adding that he knew the new BRIC “had to be carrier grade.”

Christie

ICN moved operations out of a bullpen type configuration with employees viewing information on desktop computers. Lumbard saw an opportunity for significant improvement.

“I wanted the operational aspects of the ICN, not just the optics, but the operations site of the ICN itself to be in the forefront. It’s important that when people come in for meetings they know the ICN takes the operational environment of its network very seriously.”

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The solution was designed and installed by CCS Presentation Systems. The new BRIC includes 12 Christie FHD552-X 55-inch flat panels and nine Christie Phoenix nodes.The flat panels are arranged in two separate configurations: the main video wall has eight flat panels in a four by two arrangement, and the second video wall has four flat panels in a two by two configuration. All 12 panels are driven by the Christie Phoenix nodes.

The installation became a bit of a spectacle, says CCS Presentation Systems corporate sales account executive Zach Potter. “Visitors and employees would watch us install the flat panels, with the room getting brighter and brighter as they were being turned on. People were watching to see what the final product would be.

When you see it, it has a wow factor.”

The Christie flat panels display gives additional visibility to network outages, which allows ICN to respond quickly when cyber-attacks are identified on the network or other security issues arise associated with critical infrastructure being served by the ICN, according to Lumbard.

“We’ll begin pushing images and other pertinent areas to the security conversation to a point where we’re monitoring critical infrastructure. The end result is that we’ll be able to respond very quickly and collaboratively when those things do begin to happen.”

A future goal is to sync the BRIC’s video wall to various locations, such as ICN’s 24/7 Network Operations Center located 13 miles away.

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