Maryland State Emergency Operations Center
REISTERSTOWN, Md. — The Maryland Emergency Management Agency recently upgraded its voice communications systems with new gear from Clear-Com, a manufacturer of intercom and voice networking products. MEMA installed a Clear-Com Eclipse HX-Median digital matrix platform, Concert server software and two HME DX210 digital wireless intercom systems, as part of its renovation of the State Emergency Operations Center. The goal was to provide effective communications between state and local agencies during emergency and disaster events.
MEMA was created by the Maryland legislature to ensure that the state is prepared to deal with large-scale emergencies by coordinating the state’s response in any major emergency or disaster.
During an emergency, situational awareness is key. Within the SEOC, it is imperative that state, local and other organizations' representatives are in communication at all times and for those conversations to be managed, regardless of where people are located or moving within the Center. Having a convenient way to call across the room for a short but vital conversation is paramount.
To meet these needs, Baltimore-based Convergent Technologies Design Group was tapped by project consulting engineers Gipe Associates (also of Baltimore) for the design of the communications solution. Working in close collaboration, with access to architectural, mechanical, engineering and plumbing plans, Convergent Technologies selected Clear-Com products to fulfil SEOC's specific needs.
Clear-Com Eclipse HX-Median intercom matrix
In the final design, Convergent Technologies supplied a Clear-Com Eclipse HX-Median digital matrix platform, Concert server software and two HME DX210 digital wireless intercom systems with eight beltpacks. Each computer workstation within the SEOC has a virtual panel with clear and concise management so users can dial anyone they need to talk to, as well as create a number of different groups for separate subsets of users.
“Having an IP-based system is really critical so that we didn’t have to have multiple pieces of hardware throughout the room, and it allows us to have remote users on the system,” said Austin Edell, a technology specialist at Convergent Technologies Design Group. “The two channel DX system provides enough wireless expansion so that a user can walk around the Center while remaining in contact, and the overall system is highly cost-effective and can easily be expanded if the SEOC grows larger.”
Within the SEOC, agencies are separated by function, with Maryland State Police having 8-10 workstations in one location, Public Works at another location and representatives from local fire departments at yet another. The Eclipse HX-Median digital matrix allows members of each group to work together, while providing an open channel so that everybody can hear each other and conference with an entire other group or a specific member of a different work group. With Concert software, users can easily call up the audio from a television tuner that feeds to the Center's video wall, instead of having to learn the operation of a complex stand-alone panel.
“This new system significantly improves upon what SEOC had before—just telephones and outside radios,” said Edell. “Previously, users were tethered to a phone line with limited usage, or they were walking around the Center trying to locate people. The nice thing about the Clear-Com Eclipse HX system is that users can get to anyone that they need to at any time.”