Thought Leaders

A mix of insights on key trends and technologies changing media and entertainment.

Partnering With a Systems Integrator to Optimize Design and Implementation of New Infrastructure

Partnering With a Systems Integrator to Optimize Design and Implementation of New Infrastructure

New production and broadcast facility builds, as well as significant facility remodels, typically demand the design and installation of new building infrastructure. When asked to take on such a project, a knowledgeable architectural team is likely to request that experts in television systems be brought into the fold.  Even architectural firms with strong experience working with media facilities cannot remain well-versed in the latest cultural, technical, and workflow requirements confronting new television media companies.  These firms know that working with an experienced systems integrator (SI) at an early stage of a difficult project can improve the process and prevent mistakes.

For the last forty years the average television operation has experienced only incremental and evolutionary change.  New technologies and the Internet have forever halted that gradual march.  Our new environment is unique.  Our challenges will be unprecedented.   Video content production and delivery methodologies in 2020- just 5 years from now- will bear little resemblance to the norms of today.  Our workflows will be different.  Our content will include but not be limited to video.  It will be linked in myriad ways to other new experiences.  It will be tailored to each individual who has accessed it and we will actively respond to information that we will have accrued about them. This will be done in real time and we will bill for our content and abilities in new ways.

If we are to survive in our new ecology, we must anticipate disruption and embrace the concept of continuous response to change. One such response will involve changing the way we build our facilities.

System integrators experience new trends and technologies every time they embrace a new project and, for this reason, the systems integrator (SI) often is called upon to complement and inform the work of an architectural firm.  A well-established and talented SI firm has experience with existing technologies but they also have created the processes, culture, and attitudes necessary to continually re-evaluate technologies and address change.  The future media facility should be designed and built in a way that can most easily accommodate change. An SI with national exposure deals with change daily.

Whether providing design and build services for a new news center, an OTT sports network, a group-wide central casting plant or a new cable network, the professional SI can do much more than identify an equipment list detailing all the parts needed to build a functioning system. Though not all SI firms can deliver a wealth of services or expertise in key fields, the right SI can offer insight and services that help the customer address critical concerns in a holistic manner. For potential customers and partners, an SI properly staffed with professionals who have degrees in architecture, architectural engineering, and electrical engineering can play a valuable role in ensuring the facility design meets the functional and technical needs of the client. For this reason, it is best if the SI firm is made part of the design team at a very early point in the planning process.

The importance of having an experienced SI team working during the initial budget development cycle cannot be overemphasized. Taking advantage of this experience to develop realistic budgets with well-conceived, defined, and prioritized goals, the facility team can avoid making assumptions that later will be problematic. For example, it may not be obvious at the outset, but it is likely that for any project, the technical plant budget will closely track that of the physical plant, with equipment purchasing, training, integrating, commissioning and moving costs rivaling the costs of the actual new or remodeled building. With an understanding of both building requirements and production and television system requirements, an experienced SI team can help its customer avoid costly infrastructure mistakes and more than justify the cost of consulting fees.

In guiding design for the facility build or remodel, the SI can help with space planning, even situating the rooms within the plan, outlining the ideal location for rack and console layout, and supplying technical power circuit counts and placements.  Additionally, initial and anticipated electrical and air conditioning loads can be provided to the project’s electrical and HVAC engineers. The SI also can make noise criteria recommendations for individual rooms, issue grounding recommendations, and identify potential vibration or heat issues.

In creating satellite dish layouts, the SI will check distances to assure that the required signals show up at necessary levels at all the points they are needed in the plant. When assisting with lighting grid designs and requirements, the SI can issue anticipated structural, HVAC and electrical loads for lighting.

A good SI can address generator and UPS system designs, outlining the various methodologies and systems that work best for specific types of media facilities. The SI also matches the electrical and mechanical building systems to the requirements of the technical plant.  While working to develop a realistic project timeline, the SI helps to ensure that the facility move and transition planning have been considered thoroughly and integrated into the overall construction schedule. Finally, the firm can help to create the BIM (building information modeling) models and numbers that modern buildings require. 

Partnering with SI at an early stage of major building and remodeling projects can prevent costly mistakes and save the facility money. From design and budgeting to the actual build and commissioning of new systems, the SI is invaluable in making sure that the facility design aligns with the business and technical goals of the customer. 

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