Looking to take operations management beyond individual desktop computers, the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) worked with Christie and CCS Presentation Systems to install a Visual Presence Monitoring System within its Broadband Information Center (BRIC), creating a collaborative tool for additional visibility to monitor its state-wide broadband network.
As a state-owned telecommunications network, with over 8,000 miles of owned and leased fiber optics and copper cable providing broadband access to government, education, public safety, and healthcare sectors in Iowa, Ric Lumbard, Executive Director, ICN, knew the BRIC had to be carrier-grade. “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.”
ICN moved operations out of a bullpen type configuration, with employees viewing information on desktop computers, to a purpose-built area for the BRIC. Says Lumbard, “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.”
Designed and installed by CCS Presentation Systems, the BRIC comprises 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.
During the installation “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,” says Zach Potter, CCS Presentation Systems.
The Christie flat panels display gives additional visibility to network outages, allowing 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. “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,” says Lumbard. 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.
Concludes Lumbard, “Our Broadband Information Center empowers the ICN to collaborate more quickly with our users and other agencies. The Christie flat panels are an excellent tool for our operations staff to view situations at the same time, instead of crowding around a small computer monitor. The functionality allows the team to work together, make decisions, and implement real-time solutions when monitoring Iowa’s statewide fiber optic network.”