Standing up for standards

This year’s InAVation Awards will include a prize dedicated to the effective use of InfoComm standards within a project. As part of the increased focus on standards Tim Kridel kicks off a series of Q&As on the topic with Electrosonic.

What do integrators and other AV pros think of InfoComm standards in terms of benefits and any shortcomings?

Industry standards help to promote quality and interoperability, both of which are key benefits to a client. They give AV Integrators the confidence to specify systems and link back to relevant standards to ratify their design choices. Using standards enables integrators to provide consistency across working practices and project delivery. It also shows a professional approach and can help with training. 

The InfoComm AV Systems Performance Verification standard is being specified by some consultants in the UK as part of tenders. We use this as a basis for our own test and commissioning documentation. We have many of our own company standards in place and validate these against any new published InfoComm standard. For example, we are currently reviewing our cable labelling guidelines.

The benefits far outweigh any shortcomings.  Common, global industry standards are essential to continually elevate and communicate the professionalism of the AV Industry. In an ideal world, the relevant standards would be more widely known and adopted by all AV integrators, consultants and trade contractors.

Our clients hold us to these standards.  We are proud to promote them as a company and ensure our staff are trained to the personal accreditations.

Are InfoComm standards getting more traction in some areas of the world than others, and if so, why? For example, most InfoComm standards are tied to ANSI, and I’m curious whether that limits adoption outside of North America.

ANSI is the body which accredits the standards. The ISO standards are also recognized and promoted. As an international company, we are very experienced working with many non-UK standards. 

It is more important that the standards can be applied internationally, even if this requires regional adaptations for local working practices and regulations. It is good to see that the Standards Steering committee is made up of international members.

Which types of standards would AV pros like to see InfoComm create, and why? For example, some integrators say they’d like to see standards for lighting and building management.

The range of possible standards is immense and it is critical to keep the standard focused as it is, for example, with the InfoComm standards on Control Panel layout, System Image Contrast and 2D display image size. Thinking about this, and your comment on lighting and building management, I’d suggest standards that incorporate control system setup and programming with a particular focus on life safety interfaces. In addition, it would be helpful to formalize the standards in relation to acoustics for VC and conference rooms aimed at designers and architects. All too often we have sound issues caused by the room construction and furniture.

Are AV pros using IT standards? What can AV learn from the IT world in terms of creating and applying standards?

We have worked within an IT world for many years and benefit from the professionalism and level of understanding that IT is given, due to its standardized nature. 

The specific standards and protocols that have been designed for IT systems and the requirement for all appliances to adhere to these standards ensures correct operation and performance across all vendor’s equipment and has helped drive standardization across the industry.

IT is a critical part of an AV system and as an integrator we speak the same language and work with our clients’ IT departments to ensure that we comply with their IT standards in the implementation of systems. As an AV industry, we can continue to improve our standing and reputation through the adoption of common, international AV standards and practices by integrators, consultants, architects, designers and in-house AV teams and managers alike.

Tim spoke with design manager Rob Ferguson and chief engineer Chris Ostler.

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: 
Ann Brigida - InfoComm
Adrian Goulder, Omnix

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