Fulton County Schools (FCS) is the fourth largest district in Georgia, spanning 106 schools and administrative and support buildings. For the safety of students and staff, the district’s Emergency Operations Department monitors weather and security alerts, school IP camera feeds, social media postings, and local and state events at its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the sixth floor of the main administrative building.
Until recently, this was accomplished using a video wall consisting of consumer displays in varying sizes and a standard HDMI 8×8 matrix switcher. The capabilities of the EOC’s existing were extremely limited, so in early 2019 FCS made the decision to upgrade its technology to something modern, advanced, easy-to-operate, scalable and more future-proof. To meet these requirements, the district called on Lawrenceville-based integrator Nisewonger AV.
At the EOC, Nisewonger replaced the consumer displays with (12) 55-inch LG commercial Ultra-thin bezel video wall displays in a 2×6 configuration. While switching to thin bezel video wall displays was certainly an aesthetic improvement, new displays alone weren’t enough to deliver the functionality and scalability FCS required. The video distribution system working behind the scenes needed to be addressed. Not only did the EOC’s existing 8×8 matrix switcher lack any video wall features, but it was out of room, making future system expansion impossible. If FCS continued with a fixed-format approach to video distribution, the facility would need to upgrade to a much larger — and more expensive — switcher, which would also reach its capacity in time. Furthermore, a traditional matrix requires the use of HDMI to CAT extenders, which clutter the system with additional hardware and increase overall system costs. An AV over IP solution was the best fit, in this case Just Add Power’s 3G Ultra HD Over IP platform.
The system offers ultra-low 16 ms of latency from source to screen and supports 4K Ultra HD resolutions and HDMI 2.0 devices with HDCP 2.2. The platform enables seamless switching between any resolution HDMI source as well as uncompressed lossless multichannel audio formats, including Dolby Atmos support.
Video wall functionality is built-in for displays installed in portrait and flipped configurations, as well as image push, pull, and pop features. An integrated scaler on the receiver automatically adjusts the picture to fit the screen.
Each of the 12 displays in the EOC’s video wall is equipped with a VBS-HDIP-508PoE 3G receiver. Sources include multiple cable set-top boxes, an Apple TV, PCs, 10 Antrica SpotBox4K multiviewers for IP camera footage, a Biamp Tesira digital signal processor, and a VoIP voice system. 12 sources are connected to three J+P VBS-HDIP-747PoE 4-in-1 3G rack-mount transmitters, and eight are outfitted with VBSHDIP-707PoE transmitters. In addition, the system features J+P’s VBSHDIP-759A 3G four-input tiling processor, which allows up to four sources to be viewed on a single display. The video distribution system is supported by two Cisco SG550X-48MP 52-port managed AV switches.
EOC staff have complete control over the video wall using Just Add Software’s MediaSwitcher platform on a standard PC or a web interface client that can be accessed from virtually any device. Developed in partnership with J+P and designed to work with the company’s entire HD over IP product line, MediaSwitcher allows users to send any video source to any display or group of displays — or send multiple sources to one display — with the push of a button. By incorporating FCS’ Biamp DSP and VoIP phone system into the J+P system, staff can also send and receive VoIP calls via the MediaSwitcher interface.