NSW Rural Fire Service implements largest video wall in Southern Hemisphere

Tuesday, 06 December, 2011

The headquarters of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS), located in Homebush, is now home to the largest digital video wall in the Southern Hemisphere. The service is using the device as the basis of a comprehensive audiovisual information centre.

The video wall comprises 100 LCD screens and a digital signal distribution network and control system.

In the past, NSWRFS used a projector stack with four projectors screening the information onto a blank wall, plus large stickers outlining emergency contact details below the projection. The past solution limited the amount of information able to be displayed, was slow at uploading new information and restricted the types of data able to be presented.

NSWRFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the need for effective communication and operational tools was critical.

“As an agency we will continue to explore any tool that will assist us in protecting communities from bushfires. As technologies evolve and expand we will endeavour to utilise all options available to us,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons stated.

The digital video wall is used for numerous purposes, but primarily as an information source to assist in organising firefighting teams and to develop emergency response plans. The facility is also used to monitor media coverage during fire response times, to assess the various statements being delivered by the media and determine what public information the RFS needs to further provide when making formal statements to advise the public and the government on vital information.

“Our major upgrade to the NSWRFS Operations Headquarters highlights our commitment to the bushfire and emergency protection of the NSW community. By introducing a state-of-the-art video wall into the information centre, the RFS can now access and share incident information, and monitor weather data and bushfire movement in real time,” said Fitzsimmons.

“These new technologies will assist the NSWRFS to deliver on our organisation’s mission: to protect the community and our environment and to minimise the impact of fire and other emergencies, by providing the highest standards of training, community education, prevention and operational capability,” he said.

NSWRFS selected Eo Design, an audiovisual design and installation company, and NEC Australia to design and install the video wall.

André van Stom of Eo Design consulted with NSWRFS to design the system and worked with NEC Australia to select the display technology to support the solution. The Eo Design team then managed the development and installation of the solution, and now provide ongoing support and service.

The solution comprises 100 NEC 46″ seamless’ LCD screens with the entire system driven by a custom PixelNet digital networked modular video matrix solution, AMX control system and Tannoy digitally steerable line array loudspeakers.

The digital video wall is supported by 14 computer systems, four dedicated servers and 32 digital video inputs including digital television, Sky News and a helicopter-mounted camera system which can transmit video from the fire front back to the command centre video wall.

The installation was completed in three weeks and the entire project was finalised within seven weeks from receiving the purchase order to having the new system up and running live.

The solution provides the technology and speed to display any issues and crisis in real time, with great attention to detail in the accompanying data. Also, the flat screens use little floor space; having the system flat against the wall saved the headquarters nearly two metres of floor space.

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