Tuesday, March 12, 2013

AV and IT Converging in Judicial and Law Enforcement Arenas

Add judicial and law enforcement facilities to the growing list of places where AV and IT are converging. And like their counterparts in general enterprise and other sectors, legal technology professionals face a variety of challenges, from security concerns to usability.

Enterprise IT managers often balk at allowing AV traffic such as video to run over their networks for reasons such as security and bandwidth. There and in the legal sector, that resistance is starting to wane, partly because technology has evolved to address their concerns. Case in point: the use of video for applications such as remote arraignment and testimony.

“In early 2005, we saw an early adoption of videoconferencing over IP,” said Adam Lofredo, ExhibitOne strategic account manager. “This was an IT nightmare since video consumed a lot of bandwidth! Eventually the videoconferencing manufacturers co-created the H.264 video standard, which was a compression algorithm that allowed decent videoconferencing calls at much lower bandwidth: typically 384 kbps. “At the same time, the IT industry started making investments in the 10/100 MB switches. This combination allowed us to see most videoconferencing today run over IP.”

HDbaseT and Audio Video Bridging (AVB) are two other technologies increasingly used in courthouses and other facilities so audio and video can share the same Cat cabling. The next step is to have AV and IT share that and other infrastructure.

“We are currently not seeing the AV systems run over an existing network because of the network demands that AV requires,” Lofredo said. “However, the IT and AV networks are being run in parallel and cohabit in the same backbone pathways and server rooms. Over the next few years, as IT departments deploy gigabit backbone systems, we will most likely see a harmonic convergence where AV and IT are all run on the same network.”

It’s important to ensure that sharing infrastructure doesn’t make AV vulnerable to eavesdropping or create a back door into IT systems.

“It is critical to keep data secure, whether it’s streaming video or sensitive data that is on the courthouse’s network,” said AJ Shelat, Hall Research vice president of sales. “As AV has evolved, so has IT, and they each have the tools to share the physical space and keep sensitive data secure.”

“While the AV systems may be managed and maintained by someone who is highly trained and experienced, depending on budgets, it is often likely that the user of the system will have only basic training to use the system efficiently in order to get the job done,” said Hall Research’s Shelat. “Whether it is the bailiff or someone else, the responsible person in the room already has a core job, and controlling the AV routing is just an added responsibility they are charged with."

One reason for limited training is money. “In a world where everyone is trying to cut their budgets, there are an increasing number of those responsible for these systems that have not been properly trained in AV,” said Patrick Herlihy, Media Vision USA senior product manager.! “This makes it incumbent upon us as AV professionals to ensure that the technology we bring to the table is designed and integrated to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.”

When comparing vendors and integrators for an AV or IT project, another thing to look for is their ability to train staff on newly installed systems.

“Proper training for basic features and operation should be a major consideration,” Shelat said. “We have seen the knowledge level vary considerably from one facility to another, but also from one bailiff to another. It is the job of the dealer and/or installer to provide adequate documentation and training for each installation.”

“Judges have told us that trials that would have taken a week or longer now only take days due to the ability to share evidence with the jury, judge, witness, and counsel simultaneously or selectively," said AJ Shelat, Hall Research vice president of sales. “For example, before there were highresolution document cameras and monitors in front of the jurors, they would spend a lot of time just passing evidence material between the jurors, not to mention everyone else involved.

Reducing the time in which trials can take place has a huge impact on the average per-trial cost and should be taken into account when assessing the ROI.”