When visual communication is mission-critical
- By Victoria Sanville
- Sep 08, 2020
As government agencies reopen and welcome employees back to their offices, visual communication will be more important than ever. Whether it’s to display important health safety information and other messaging or to support collaboration among colleagues still working remotely, digital display technology — which already was seeing an uptick among agencies before the pandemic — is now among the most in-demand solutions in government IT.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ new Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) headquarters in Vicksburg, Miss., deployed an integrated mix of display technologies in a prime example of state-of-the-art video.
The facility’s lobby features a pair of 32-foot-high video walls, each composed of 30 displays arranged in a mosaic. In the middle of the atrium, there’s a “welcome” installation featuring OLED-based digital wallpaper displays showcasing the ERDC’s mission. Digitally enhanced conference rooms and learning spaces throughout the building have multiple large-screen displays and secure video conferencing systems, including the two-by-three-screen video wall in ERDC’s emergency operations center.
Today, with federal, state and local governments figuring out how best to restart in-person operations, a new breed of purpose-designed health protocol display solutions can help agencies navigate the present while establishing a platform for future visual communications, like digital signage and wayfinding. Such health protocol solutions can do much more than display important information to arriving workers and visitors. They can also include digital wellness kiosks, with integrated thermal scanners to take temperature readings; occupancy management systems, with sensors for counting and displaying the number of people in a room, building or other venue; and reconfigurable digital signage, for placing important health protocol messages throughout a facility.
As visual communication becomes more critical to how government operates, procuring the right solutions is especially important. For example, commercial-grade display systems are more reliable and offer longer warranties than other solutions. And displays with built-in operating systems and advanced functionality can form the foundation of an integrated communications environment and support an ecosystem of solutions, from content management systems to cameras and sensors.
There are a number of considerations government technology buyers should keep in mind looking for display solutions for current and future operations.
Display solutions should be controllable. Because of the different content they’re tasked with displaying and the myriad applications they support, today’s displays are necessarily part of an integrated communications platform. As such, they typically rely on a secure control system to route signals, initiate secure video calls and more. Buyers should look for control systems that are validated, by the Joint Interoperability Test Command and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, for example. Several commercial-grade display systems have, in turn, been tested and approved by control system manufacturers to operate seamlessly with government-class controllers. The combination helps ensure agencies that a display solution is easy to use and compliant with government standards.
Display solutions should be highly functional. Not long ago, digital displays were simple screens hung on a wall, and any intelligence or processing capability lived in external systems that created additional points of failure or needs for IT maintenance. Increasingly, commercial displays are “smart,” featuring on-board processing, a dedicated operating system, application software and network connectivity. Smart displays can handle more communication tasks, including web-based collaboration or a growing number of integrated health protocol functions. Additionally, these smart displays are more easily managed from a central location.
Display solutions should be secure. Smarter, network-connected endpoints may expose enterprise resources to hackers if not implemented properly. Secure integration with a government-approved control system is key. Manufacturers have taken steps to make the displays themselves more secure. For example, some have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, which can be useful when collaborating with content stored on mobile devices. Often, those integrated Wi-Fi components can be disabled for enhanced security, but in response to requirements from some government users, there are also now highly advanced commercial displays — that don’t include Wi-Fi modules at all.
Display solutions should comply with government purchasing regulations. With technology supply chains reaching all over the world, it can be challenging to find compliant display solutions. Commercial-grade displays for federal government deployment should comply with the Trade Agreements Act and be assembled in TAA-designated countries. They should adhere to the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program for ensuring a secure supply chain. Depending on the application, display solutions should meet Section 508 requirements for accessibility by people with disabilities. They should also meet sustainability goals, either through Energy Star certification or recognition under the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool program that helps government purchasing agents assess products based on their potential environmental impact.
Whether an agency wants digital signage in its lobbies, high-resolution video walls for command and control or large-format, interactive displays for training and collaboration, today’s display solutions include a variety of options that deliver optimal experiences. With visual communication becoming more critical to mission success, agencies will find display solutions tailored to government requirements.
Victoria Sanville leads government business development at LG Business Solutions USA, a provider of advanced display solutions to public- and private-sector markets.