POV: Building Better Relationships with Architects

Architects control the design of many new spaces in need of audiovisual equipment, lighting, and services, and educating this key audience should play 5/01/2007 8:00 AM Eastern

POV: Building Better Relationships with Architects

May 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D.

Architects control the design of many new spaces in need of audiovisual equipment, lighting, and services, and educating this key audience should play a large role in any AV company's outreach activities. For the past few years, InfoComm International has worked with its board and member councils to develop a closer relationship with the architectural community, and as a result, InfoComm has adopted new policies and developed new tools to help educate this important AV consumer market segment.

Last year, InfoComm announced exciting new developments promoting AV industry quality. InfoComm plans to become an ANSI-recognized standards-setting body, allowing the association to provide performance standards that AV companies can build their systems to meet, while giving the industry's customers, including architects, clear industry standards on which they can rely. The standards developed will focus on the physical measurements of systems performance, such as sound pressure levels and contrast ratios.

InfoComm has also applied its Certified Technology Specialist program for ANSI-ISO accreditation, and expects to receive it some time this year. Accreditation by ANSI will signify that InfoComm's procedures meet ANSI's essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process in accordance with the ISO 17024 standard. ANSI's accreditation will promote the unique qualifications and expertise InfoComm's certifications provide by ensuring the integrity of the certifications, enhancing consumer and public confidence in the certifications and the people who hold them, and facilitating recognition of the CTS program across geographical borders and industries. The U.S. Department of Defense is now requiring its contractors who perform certain Information Assurance functions to be certified by credentialing bodies that have been independently accredited by a third party, such as ANSI.

I believe that ANSI accreditation of the CTS program will lead to a better-qualified AV workforce, and architects, who are familiar with ANSI, will feel most comfortable hiring CTS holders to meet their AV needs. Architects, design firms, and institutions in the market for videoconferencing equipment, digital signage, and boardrooms are increasingly relying on InfoComm International's Certified AudioVisual Solutions Provider (CAVSP) designation to identify companies dedicated to quality and professionalism. The company-level CAVSP is based on the percentage of technical, sales, and customer service personnel who have earned the CTS designation. In March of this year, the CAVSP program reached a new record of 250 companies.

InfoComm also offers a variety of programs to educate architects about the AV industry. Lunch & Learns is one such program, enabling members to showcase unique AV installations to architects and building owners. An InfoComm instructor leads the educational portion, followed by a tour and lunch. Locations are identified through a proposal process. InfoComm evaluates proposals and determines site selection based in part on the size and significance of the AV application and the best practices architects will see. Upcoming tours are slated to take place in Toronto in May, San Francisco in August, Seattle in October, and in Washington, D.C., in November. Attendees are eligible to receive The American Institute of Architects (AIA) continuing education credits.

The newly created InfoComm presentation, “Audiovisual Design Professionals, Partnering with Architects for More Successful Projects,” is designed for both AV consultants and integrators to use with architects. It covers the roles of consultants and integrators, AV considerations in architectural designs, the ideal planning process for working with AV professionals on small and large projects, and more. Architects who are shown the presentation can receive AIA continuing education credits.

InfoComm is also designing a webinar series for architects and AV professionals featuring its Archi-Tech award-winning projects. AIA credits and CTS Renewal Units will be offered to attendees. InfoComm 2007 also offers six classes for AIA credit, including Designing the Electronic Classroom, Designing Today's Conference Rooms, Design Guide for Lighting Videoconference Spaces, Introduction to Acoustics, Designing and Managing Secure AV Facilities, and Advanced Acoustics.

I hope you will leverage InfoComm's resources for architects — communicating with architects is paramount for the further growth of both the AV industry and your business.

Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., is the executive director of InfoComm International, a trade association of the professional audiovisual and information communications industries.

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