The DCN dual-channel tabletop units also provide everyone with access to up to 14 external audio feeds
A total of 55 DCN DIS DCSDs were installed at the Ohio Emergency Operation Center

At times of crisis, when representatives of various government agencies gather in a central command post to coordinate their efforts, communication and information are vital to an effective emergency management response. Decision makers need fast, flexible access to information from the outside world, including both the news media and their own respective organizations. They also need easy, reliable communication among themselves. The job of an AV design/install company such as Ohio's SoundCom Systems is to accommodate these various requirements into an integrated solution that seamlessly facilitates the work of the response team. SoundCom recently implemented such a system for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Operations Center, selecting the Bosch Digital Congress Network (DCN) to provide the facility's conferencing capabilities.

The Ohio Emergency Operations Center is centrally located in the state and serves as a place for state, regional, and local agencies to coordinate a response to emergencies of both natural and human origin. The heart of the facility is its operations room, described by Don Dennis, the SoundCom sales engineer who handled the project, as “the room where it all goes down. It’s a two-story space in the center of the structure. Many different arms of government gather there, so there is a seat reserved for each of the people who might be needed to cope with a given situation, whether it be the governor, local mayors, or heads of various state agencies.”

The operations room is flanked by two smaller but also important spaces, one of which is an assessment room that is separated from the operations room by a glass wall. The other is the assessment annex, which may be used as part of the assessment room or separated with sliding glass doors. The Bosch DCN system covers all three areas.

Bosch DCN was originally recommended for the Center by the project consultant, Tony Wulk of Osborn Engineering in Cleveland. “This was a bid job, so I had the option of suggesting alternatives,” Dennis says, “but we chose to stick with Bosch because we use Bosch for everything from wireless mics to surveillance cameras, so we know that they make good products. And this system did not disappoint. It was easy to integrate, and it’s been completely trouble-free ever since.” Dennis worked closely with Bosch reps CL Pugh and Associates on specifying equipment for the project.

We installed a total of 55 DCN DIS DCSDs,” Dennis continues, “which are dual-channel tabletop discussion units that each serve two people. 52 of those are in the operations room, where you can have up to 104 individuals conferenced-in at the same time. The desks in there are deep to allow lots of workspace, so at the customer’s request Bosch custom built extra-long 24-inch goosenecks for the microphones, which allowed us to place the tabletop units further back on the desk.” Seating is arranged according to agency, so the users paired on any given tabletop unit, where they will share a mic, will be from the same organisation.

“The main reason for using the DCN dual-channel tabletop units,” Dennis explains, “is that in addition to using the system for conferencing we are also able to use it to provide everyone with access to up to 14 external audio feeds. The main room has a custom 72-foot wide video display screen with four 1080p projectors. A 30-input video wall processor allows us to put 30 different sources up on the screen at one time, including computers, satellite receivers, cable TV tuners, and video conferencing cameras. It wouldn’t work to play the sound from more than one of those video feeds at a time through speakers, so instead we inject up to 14 audio sources into the DCN system. That allows each user to plug headphones into the closest jack on their tabletop unit and then independently select one of the feeds to listen to.”

The enhanced channel capacity of the facility’s tabletop units is enabled by three Bosch LBB 4402/00 audio expander units. The inputs feeding each expander come from the audio routing output of an Extron matrix switcher. Additional DCN elements include the DCN-CCU central control unit, DCN trunk splitters to divide trunk-line cabling, and DCN Tap-Off Units to connect the tabletop discussion units to the lines.

The length of our runs and the number of units per run were all carefully designed to take into account the capacities of the supplies that power the system,” Dennis says. “If you’ve got everything planned out in advance, the installation itself is really fast. We chose to wire using Bosch pre-terminated cable assemblies, which made installation simple and easy. Luckily we were working with a raised floor, so for us it only took about a day to install the entire DCN system. My installation team installed it according to my drawings, and it worked on the first try.”

The Emergency Operations Center has been activated for emergencies several times since the system was installed, Dennis says, “and we haven’t had a single glitch with the Bosch DCN. Everything has been working flawlessly since the day we put it in.”