International SOS South Africa, the Johannesburg office of a medical and travel security assistance company, recently overhauled its internal communications with a Gefen AV-over-IP system that connects 32 display endpoints to a central command center. Tom Crosswell, Technical Director of South Africa integration firm Mitech Solutions, designed and installed the system to meet the exact needs of International SOS. “When International SOS proposed the project, every room in their building was an island,” Crosswell explained. “Nothing communicated between rooms or endpoints. All content was locally managed, and they weren’t sure of the best way to improve the system for functionality and control.”
After a different integrator determined that International SOS’ requested legacy approach would entail a great deal of redundancy, SOS came to Crosswell, who proposed using the Gefen HDMI-over-IP solution.
“They needed every room and every display to work from day one to day 10,000,” Crosswell said. “We’ve used Gefen AV-over-IP solutions before and we know the system works flawlessly and is backed by excellent customer service. Full, immediate control of all the displays was also paramount, because employees actually use the displayed information in their daily work.”
The project included updating content delivery for several board rooms and meeting rooms with projectors as well as more than a dozen 55” LG displays located throughout employee work areas. The common area displays show statistics and up-to-date information useful for daily operations. Prior to the new system, the IT department struggled to keep every room functioning properly but with the entire building now connected through the Gefen HDMI-over-IP network, the IT team can see and control the functions of every source and display in the building and respond to employee requests immediately.
“The main brief was to make the system work better for them,” Crosswell added. “Now they can easily run the entire system themselves, and every employee has plug-and-play access to displays in conference rooms through pop-up cable cubbies. The biggest change is probably the floorplan-based GUI we created for IT to help them to manage the network. Each endpoint is mapped onto the floor plan, and clicking on the endpoint opens a pop-up to enable immediate control of that display. I’m not sure it could be much easier than that!
The core of the project is the command centre where operators using the custom graphical user interface can turn displays on and off, and broadcast content from 12 computers to any or all displays throughout the building in an instant. The command centre features five displays that run 24/7 and display critical information such as weather reports, ongoing rescues or operations and real-time travel related information, which can then be shared on any display.
Mitech Solutions used two Cisco 48-port switches to connect 33 Gefen EXT-HD2IRS-LAN-RX receivers and 35 Gefen EXT-HD2IRS-LAN-TX transmitters, which are all controlled through a Gefen EXT-CU-LAN Matrix Controller. Other hardware installed includes a QSC amplifier, Epson projectors, several ceiling-mount speakers, and Shure MX310 microphones.
The Gefen EXT-CU-LAN Matrix Controller is a hardware platform designed to manage and control the Gefen family of AV and KVM over IP products in a virtual matrix environment. Its comprehensive and user-friendly interface can be accessed by any web-enabled device, including phones, tablets and PCs. End-users can control matrix routing and access presets, regardless of the size and complexity of the system. It also manages access to the AV network, providing two independent levels of security for administrators and end-users.
“Going from a disjointed, VGA-based system to a centrally-controlled, AV over IP system makes it immeasurably easier and faster to operate two floors full of displays,” Crosswell said. “Now if the CEO wants to share something from the boardroom to the entire company, it can be done. The office is now more agile and efficient, and they are extremely pleased with the outcome.”