InfoComm reveals standards developments

Tim Kridel speaks with Ann Brigida, InfoComm’s director of standards to find out how standards are developed and what’s in the pipeline.

TK: What is InfoComm’s process for deciding which standards to create? And how do you decide when standards need to be updated?

AB: InfoComm’s Standards Steering Committee developed a process to vet the myriad requests for standards. Remember, we just started doing this less than 10 years ago, so we had tons of requests for standards (as in, more than 100) and needed to come up with a way to make sure we were developing standards the industry needed most. So, the Steering Committee created a detailed scorecard of 30 questions that help rank the topics with weighted questions to determine which standards should come next. The Steering Committee reviews the list annually and as new suggestions come in, they’re ranked also and integrated into the list with the existing topics. 
Because we’re new at this, we are also training the industry on how to do the actual development of those standards. A lot of research and science is lacking when it comes to assessing the performance of a system. Fortunately, we have international participation in every group, and all of our task group members are experts with many years of experience in the industry, so we have a huge brain trust of professionals, some of which have experience with other standards developers. 

There are lots and lots of technical standards related to our industry and very few performance, outcome based standards like the ones InfoComm is developing. We’re writing standards that are equipment agnostic. The performance metrics consider the entire system and not just the gear. So, that’s a bit more challenging than technical standards because of the direct relationship to the experience we’re trying to quantify.  

At a minimum, our standards are reviewed every five years. We keep records of comments from people who have used it and when it’s time to update the standard we get a task group together again and make any necessary improvements based on their analysis of the existing standard and considerations such as updated technologies or new research or information. Standards are created to solve a problem, so the problem is analysed again as the task group reconsiders the solution.  

But if a standard needs tweaking prior to its five-year anniversary, we will do that as well. We had a case with the Energy Management standard where the group had defined a specific system state with a particular term and two years after the standard was approved, a well-known standard development body came up with a different usage of the exact term. So we issued erratum to use a different term for our system state.  That standard doesn’t have its 5-year anniversary until next year but we felt it was important enough to make the change early. 

TK: What are some standards that InfoComm is planning to create?

AB: We’re currently working on a rack building standard, a videoconferencing lighting standard, a direct-view contrast ratio standard, an audio system spectral balance standard, a technical report on building automation systems, and an AV network security recommended practice. In addition to these projects, we update standards that have been in the marketplace for five years with the same process that was used to create them the first time around. The list of standards in the queue for development isn’t static, and sometimes a proposal we receive (anyone can suggest a standard) that gets prioritised to an elevated development timeline. That just happened with an AV Network Security proposal. The Steering Committee received a very well documented proposal for network security guidance for AV systems. The committee felt strongly that this topic deserved attention. They did extensive research and due diligence to analyse standards already published that deal with network security and came to the conclusion that best-practice guidance in this area that is specific to AV networks is warranted. A group will be working on a recommended practice. 

Since InfoComm just started writing performance standards in the last decade, we have a fair share of work ahead of us. Projects slated to get started in the next few years include a standard on gain structure, AV design verification and nominal sound pressure level.

TK: What is InfoComm doing to increase standards awareness and adoption among AV pros in EMEA? Are there any EMEA countries where the standards are getting a lot of traction, and if so, why there? 

AB: We’re doing a lot on many fronts to try to get the word out to practitioners. We have members giving presentations, writing articles, working on task groups, using social media to try to raise awareness. We have case studies from people that have used them, but we’re always looking for people to tell their story and share the ways they’ve incorporated the standards in their businesses.  

The EMEA community is extremely receptive to the effort and embraces what we’re doing. There is international representation on every standard task group and our Steering Committee includes our chair who is from the UK. Our former board president, Greg Jeffreys, Visual Displays Limited, UK, just moderated the task group who wrote the Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual Systems (DISCAS) standard. Greg presents regularly about standards to various audiences in Europe. A webinar about DISCAS was presented in Germany by another member. Ratnesh Javeri, Innovative Solutions has been another longstanding supporter of InfoComm standards and just gave a presentation at InfoComm India.  This outreach combined with their actually use of the standards in projects puts them in front of customers and begins to get the word out in a very real-world application. 

We held a very well-attended plenary session at ISE in 2016 and will do that again at ISE 2017 so that people can come and find out about the whole program and how the standards can help them. We had our first meeting for the rack building standard in Amsterdam and a third of the group was from EMEA. We are always looking for experts to join us—the standards can only be as good as the information we receive, so we welcome members from EMEA. We are dedicated to the task of making the standards internationally applicable and are heartened by the interest, which is definitely picking up as more people realize that InfoComm is writing performance standards. Of course, there is always more work to be done, but more and more members in EMEA are telling us that they are seeing the standards in tenders.

TK: What is InfoComm doing to increase standards awareness and adoption among non-AV pros in EMEA? For example, one UK integrator said he’d like to see architects (eg, InfoComm collaborating with recognise InfoComm and its standards.

AB: In general, InfoComm has spent the past year increasing its presence in Europe by hiring additional staff and working with companies in the region to focus attention on the benefits of being involved with InfoComm, including our standards efforts. We’ve partnered with some major distributors—TD Maverick and Stampede—to offer free memberships in Europe, and as you know, one of the biggest benefits of membership is free access to InfoComm standards.

We’ve also invested significantly in our communications in the European market, reaching out not only to AV professionals, but also to companies that hire AV integrators. Those communications aren’t just focused on standards, but standards are an important part of what we help the European market understand as being key to advancing AV solutions, along with certification and other InfoComm initiatives. 

I invite and anyone interested in being part of standards development or anyone who has a story about how they’re using the standards to email me at

Enter the InAVation Project Awards now. If you applied InfoComm standards to your installation then make sure you outline your experience for this year’s judges to be in with a chance of winning the InfoComm Standards Award.

Other Q&As in the series: 
Rob Ferguson and Chris Ostler - Electrosonic
Adrian Goulder, Omnix

Article Categories

Most Viewed