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Hey folks, Phil Zito here and welcome! This week, we are going to begin to look at the basics of audio-visual integrations. Now, if you've been following along, you know that this is Technology Stack #2 of this integration series.

We last discussed lightning integrations, and if you haven’t read those posts yet, I encourage you to do so because we covered a lot of fundamental knowledge around integrations. These posts moving forward are going to be a little shorter. So, if you’re not understanding some of the topics I cover, I encourage you to go back and read posts 271, 272, & 273.

So, audio-visual integrations. First off, what is an audio-visual system? Well, it's a system that controls the audio and the visual components within spaces. Now, this could be things like digital signage or even conference room control.

There's a lot more than just audio-visual, and what we have to remember, with integrations and systems in general, they consist of a common architecture. They consist of a server, a supervisory device, and room or field controller with inputs and outputs.

Well, in the case of audio-visual, we have a room controller, we have inputs which could consist of microphones, cameras, or even a controller or little touch pads that allow you to control the audio-visual system. Then we have outputs which could consist of screens, speakers, or even lights, etc.

Audio Visual is unique, in that it tends to control multiple subsystems. It can control the lighting, shade control, it can control telephony systems, monitor systems, as well as signage.  

3 Ways to Integrate Your Audio-Visual System

Now, when we're looking at an audio-visual system from an integration perspective, we need to understand exactly what we're trying to do. So, in my experience, there are three main ways that audio-visual systems are integrated:

  1. First, providing data to audio-visual systems. Typically, there is a touchpad inside the space, or possibly a phone application that connects to the AV system. This provides zone temperature and zone temperature setpoint, as well as maybe an occupancy point to the audio-visual system. This allows people within the space to have a single touchscreen from which they can control the lights, temperature, the BAS, occupancy, etc, along with all of the AV subsystems. This is typically done via BACnet IP at the server, and then those points are cast down to the audio-visual devices themselves.
  2. Second, I have seen audio-visual systems taking subsystems of the AV system and pulling them into the building automation system. So, the AV system may have control of shades, lights, and occupancy for on/off mode for all of the technology within the space. We can pull all of that information and control into the BAS and then use it as an energy control mode. So, when we want to control the energy of the space, we could turn off unoccupied conference rooms, we can turn off lights, audio-visuals, the plug load (as it's called).
  3. Third, I am seeing an increase in people-counting where building operators are starting to look at what amount of people are in the space, how many people are in the space, what spaces they're in, and then they're using this information to drive real-time occupancy, potentially to do demand-control ventilation. They're also looking at the occupancy for load. They're pulling the occupancy data back into a greater analysis to look at space-utilization so that they can do proper space planning for their building.

All in all, most audio-visual systems are not terribly difficult to integrate. The two main types of integration, when it comes to audio-visual systems, are going to be Protocol Integrations and Programmatic Integrations, both of which we'll discuss in our next post.

As an integrator, your primary goal, when you're working with audio-visual systems, is to realize that the audio-visual systems typically are not included in the FF&E budget and are typically not put in place until the Certificate of Occupancy is awarded. You won’t see AV gear brought in during construction phase, just due to the susceptibility to dust and to temperature swings that could cause damage to this AV gear.

 So, it brings up a little bit of a nuance from an integration perspective, in that if you are consuming data from the AV system, you're typically going to have to be setting up those integrations post-project or during the warranty phase. That definitely has ramifications on your project billing and your execution. Now, if you're feeding data to the AV system, usually you can feed data out, and then leave it available for discovery, but that really comes down to how detailed your building automation system data is.

This is where device descriptions and objects descriptions become really important, especially if you're using BACnet as a protocol. As the AV vendor discovers your points, the more descriptive you can be with what the point is and what space or zone it serves, the better able they are to integrate without your support. Additionally, you need to be cognizant of priority arrays and things like that, but we'll discuss that more in the next post.

So, in a nutshell, AV systems allow us to control the audio and visual systems, as well as potentially lighting, shade control, and digital signage for spaces. They also allow us to understand utilization of spaces. There are two primary ways we integrate with them Protocol Integration and Programmatic Integration.

There are two to three primary use cases. One being, providing building automation data to the AV system for single point control for the end user in the space. The second is for energy monitoring and energy demand limitation, and then our third is people counting and space utilization. Really understanding how our spaces are being utilized, so that we can properly plan for space utilization in the future.

So that's AV, and as I mentioned earlier, if you didn't understand some of the core concepts, or you felt like this was very surface level, I'd encourage you to read posts 271 and 272 because those posts will provide the foundational knowledge on which I am communicating everything to you right now.

Coming up next, Post 275, we're going to look at implementing, we're going to walk through protocol implementation programmatic integration, and we're going to walk through the three use cases and how they would be implemented.

As always, everything's available at blog.smartbuildingsacademy.com. There you will find several previous blogs, with more being added weekly. Be sure to check out our System Integration Guide. It is a free guide. It's very long, and it will detail the MSI process to you step-by-step so that you can build out your integrations.

Additionally, if you want to take it a step further, I encourage you to check out our MSI in a Box course where we will walk you through everything from selling integrations, to designing integrations, specifying integrations, implementing integrations and supporting integrations? So, if you've been looking to get into MSI work or you're interested in MSI work, Master Systems Integrator work, I encourage you to go to check out these two resources.

Thanks a ton for being here. Take care.


Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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