AV Design Process
The AETM supports industry wide initiatives to define professional practice in audiovisual systems design and in particular the ANSI/INFOCOMM 2M-2010: Standard Guide for Audiovisual Systems Design and Coordination Processes.
Individual organisations may have developed their own implementations of this standard and the project team should consult the organisational audiovisual representative for verification. Where no local documentation exists, the ANSI/INFOCOMM 2M-2010 standard is the normative reference to achieve compliance with AETM Design Guidelines, supplemented by the information and associated references published in this document, which is updated more regularly.
Copies of the standard can be purchased for a project and used to define the services required and process to be followed. The standard is available for purchase from the ANSI website: http://webstore.ansi.org/RecordDetail.aspx?sku=ANSI%2FINFOCOMM+2M-2010

AV Designer

The role of AV designer must be performed by a specialist experienced in audiovisual design. The designer may be sourced from a services consulting firm with a dedicated AV specialist team, or from the AV design staff of the tertiary organisation. One or more AV designers may be involved at various stages of the project. The recommended minimum qualifications and experience for the key project personnel of any proposed AV designer or consultancy should be:
  • An AVIXA CTS-D qualification with minimum one year of relevant experience with a portfolio of AV as-built documentation created by that individual, which have been assessed by the organisation’s AV staff as satisfactory, and two positive client referees; or
  • Three years of intensive and relevant experience as an AV designer, with a portfolio of AV as-built documentation created by that individual, which have been assessed by the organisation’s AV staff as satisfactory, and two positive client referees
Generalist electrical engineering consulting firms do not have the required skills and experience to design AV solutions for the education sector unless they include a dedicated specialist AV team with the above experience and qualifications.

Project Management

Depending on the complexity of the project, there are many instances where you might want to use a dedicated AV Project Manager (PM). Each organisation will be different, however the typical responsibilities of the role include: defining project scope, team and deliverables, reporting and governance structure, managing communications with key stakeholders and steering committees, managing budgets, risks, contracts and other elements.
Typically AV integrators will have their own internal project manager, and depending on the project size organisations will often have multiple PM’s working on the same project from different angles.
If a project has no internal audiovisual PM assigned, you may be able to outsource the project management aspects to an ICT PM from your organisation or an external audiovisual consultant, who will then work directly with the internal designer.
PMs come with varying amounts of experience. AETM strongly recommends that engaging an experienced AV project manager will help to guarantee successful project outcomes.
Project managers from the following areas are required to work together to deliver a project:
  • IT project teams / IT Program Management team
  • Capital Projects / Facilities Management / Property Management
  • Executive Projects Office / Project Management Office
  • Strategic Projects Directorate / Digital Roadmap Development Office
  • external AV consultants / contracted Project Managers

Standard Room Types and User Interfaces

The AETM recommends that as best practice organisations adopt standard room types, user interfaces and wherever possible use standardised equipment and software. This will improve supportability as hardware commonality decreases both troubleshooting and the time taken to resolve a system fault.
Standardising room fit-outs allows organisations to streamline other aspects of AV design; such as implementing standardised documentation, interface design and control code. It also allows you to leverage a consistent set of network protocols for transport, remote support, management and analytics.
Additional advantages of standardisation includes:
  • long-term cost management and savings benefits
  • repeatable and consistent functionality afforded to end users
  • consistent user experience and ‘how-to’ guides
  • improved remote supportability and familiarity for helpdesk and field staff
  • efficient vendor management and access to bulk pricing and redemption offers
  • simpler procurement (as integrators get used to standards)
  • easier management of spares
  • increased speed of deployment
  • standardised lifecycle for room refresh and replacement
An important consideration when approaching standard system design is to consider flexibility and allow for the use of different manufacturers or products so that if improvements or changes need to be made in the future they can be implemented. AETM recommend that standard system designs are first prototyped, thoroughly tested, clearly documented and signed off prior to mass deployment.
Where adjustments are considered to standard systems, these changes must also be tested within the context of the system they are enhancing and confirmed as working before committing to the change to minimise headaches during project delivery.
Many organisations assign codes to their standard room types (e.g. AV1, AV2, AV3-A etc.) which define the different features and technology available in these spaces. Each standard system type may include small variations which cater for additional options available to implement in a room (e.g single vs dual content display, web conferencing, wireless presentation, etc).
When developing standard room designs, it is important not only to specify products in the AV documentation, but also think about device port allocations and configurations so that standardised documentation and code can be written to support and control the space. Performance criteria should be applied to elements that change to suit the environment in which they are implemented; e.g. screen sizing, display system brightness and electro-acoustic systems (as discussed in later sections).
Whilst many rooms will be generic enough that it is possible to develop a standard, the nature of universities and their requirements will lead to the need for bespoke system designs. These types of spaces are unique in their nature, will often have equipment and layouts that do not apply elsewhere in the organisation and require unique control code to control and manage the room. It is important when designing these types of spaces to consider the support and maintenance implications in managing the room over its lifecycle, and to develop a clear support model for any non-standard equipment or functionalities.

Key Relationships within the Organisation

Quality AV installations and venues cannot be developed in isolation and it is important to consider the views and requirements from a variety of university stakeholders. By developing these key relationships, they can contribute to the overall design and success of a project.

Facilities Management/Property Services

This group is responsible for the allocation and management of physical space within a university. They are important as they will drive the building standards, furniture, useage and may also appoint builders and/or contractors to undertake much of the physical construction work. Key areas of focus are:
  • electrical and data installation
  • acoustics
  • lighting
  • interior design and aesthetics
  • structural engineering
  • HVAC and BMS integration
  • physical access to space (including swipe cards)
  • security cameras
  • fire and emergency evacuation integration
  • room booking systems

Academic Learning

This group is mainly responsible for the requirements if a space is used for teaching. They will drive the functional requirements of the space.
  • pedagogical teaching models
  • academic training and support

Timetabling and Room Booking

The team responsible for the allocation of spaces.
  • timetabling of classes into locations
  • mapping of space usage and utilisation

Networking

As modern AV venues and technologies are being delivered over the network, engaging with the IT network team is critical to the delivery of successful projects.
  • subnet design
  • VLAN/port allocations
  • switch configuration
  • multicast network setups
  • wireless controller configuration for wireless presentation
  • IoT (Internet of Things) considerations
Further information can be found in the AV over IP section.

Support and Field Service Teams

These teams deal with the support and maintenance of venues and systems and will need input and consultation with regards to the proposed technologies in AV venues.
  • spares and replacement equipment
  • user interfaces and experience
  • training
  • remote support and monitoring
  • project handover and acceptance
  • support model compliance

AV Design Stages and Sign-offs

The AV designer and PM must actively participate prior to the consultation, at the consultation stage, and at all the sign-off points contained in the project definition and detailed design processes.
Please note that some of these stages may be combined on smaller projects.

Project Planning and Coordination

Input from the organisation’s own AV design team or from an AV consultant is most useful in the planning stage to properly establish the scope for the project.
Best practice is to use specialist AV advice at the following stages:
  • initial and subsequent client consultation meetings to define the project brief
  • sign-off on the project design brief for bidding architectural design teams
  • sign-off on the AV sections of the preliminary budget estimate

Briefing and/or Concept Design

It is important to avoid over or under-resourcing the AV fit out by conducting a needs analysis specific to the target users. This should involve the AV designer or consultant working with the project team and may include interviews with a wider user group to separate “needs” from “wants”.
A properly executed audiovisual return brief, concept design and feedback to the wider project team is invaluable at this stage to correctly identify budget requirements and design strategies for teaching spaces. Standard quantity surveying methodology often fails to accurately capture requirements for teaching spaces and this can lead to poor budgetary outcomes if the AV component is left until the detailed design stage.
Best practice is to have involvement by the AV designer or consultant at the following stages:
  • at project kick-off consultation meetings
  • sign off on sketch or concept design
  • feedback sessions regarding physical space constraints (eg. ceiling heights and room aspect ratios)

Detailed Design

Architectural and infrastructure requirements related to teaching spaces will be clearly defined through the AV designer’s input and through the various documentation they will produce.
At detailed development stage, the designer should sign-off on sightlines and viewing conditions as well as defining needed electrical and data infrastructure in teaching, learning and meeting spaces.
The AV designer or consultant will produce the AV specific tender package documentation (or oversee the in-house design estimation) and must sign-off prior to tender issue.
The designer or consultant will normally recommend (or approve, depending on the organisation and the contract) the selection of the audiovisual systems integrator who will manage the fit-out.

Construction phase

During construction, the AV designer or consultant must provide advice and help to resolve any issues that arise concerning AV infrastructure. A site inspection at the early stages of a build could prove invaluable at critical stages of the build:
  • prior to slab pouring
  • prior to sheeting of walls
  • after systems commissioning
When deploying large quantities of rooms, it is recommended to prioritise completion of one instance of the system to ensure defects are picked up before they are multiplied across all similar spaces.
The AV designer must sign off on the functionality of the completed systems and provide their overall sign-off on project completion.

Acceptance Testing and Defect Resolution

After construction, the AV consultant and Integrator need to prove that a functional system has been delivered to meet the project brief. To ensure this, they should use the organisation’s internal test plan (or develop a test plan) to adequately test the system.
AVIXA have developed detailed acceptance testing standards which can be applied, particularly where no local standards exist.
Defects of faulty (including DoA) equipment should be addressed as part of the integrator's defect liability period (DLP). For best results, acceptance testing should happen both on a technical level (to ensure that upon delivery items are technically correct and functional) and at the end user level (to test the functionality of the design and implementation, delivering on the user requirements).
The organisation should provide internal resources for acceptance testing of the completed systems and generate defects lists to close out with the builder and their subcontractors.

Documentation and Handover

Upon acceptance of the project, finalisation of the elements to make the venue operational should be conducted. Documentation of the venue including as-built drawings, network and asset information of equipment, support and training documentation must be completed for handover.
Training for the Support staff to enable support of the venue should be completed. Handover of the space to any operational teams should be done with internal acceptance of the new venue, referencing existing or creating new support models.

Project Closure

A formal closure should take place at the end of each project. Ensure invoices have been paid, product documentation handed over and acceptance is complete.
For larger projects, it may be useful to conduct a Project Implementation Review (PIR) to assess what aspects of the project works and what improvements could be made for future projects. This is also a useful practice for individual proof-of-concept projects.

Universal Design for Educational Facilities

The AETM endorses the principles of Universal Design when considering new or refurbished educational facilities.
North Carolina State University’s Centre for Universal Design originally defined the term:
The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaptation or specialised design.”
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design of the National Disability Authority of Ireland provides an extended definition of Universal Design:
“Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design.
If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a pleasure to use, everyone benefits. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet peoples' needs. Simply put, universal design is good design.”

Legislative Requirements

Technical managers and designers should underpin their design thinking and decision making wherever practicable with the principles of universal design.
The AETM acknowledges that whilst this approach is focused on improved design for all, there are specific local, state and national legislative requirements that must be met during the design, planning and implementation of new facilities and major refurbishments.

7 Principles of Universal Design

Universal Design uses seven principles to outline a way of design thinking that can be applied to inclusive pedagogical approaches, physical and virtual environments, products (both hardware and software) and services. They are a useful reference to consider at the earliest, as well as throughout all stages of planning, design, implementation and operation.
  1. 1.
    Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities:
    (a) Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
    (b) Avoid segregating or stigmatising any users.
    (c) Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
    (d) Make the design appealing to all users.
  2. 2.
    Flexibility in Use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities
    (a) Provide choice in methods of use.
    (b) Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
    (c) Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
    (d) Provide adaptability to the user's pace.
  3. 3.
    Simple and Intuitive Use - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
    (a) Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
    (b) Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
    (c) Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
    (d) Arrange information consistent with its importance.
    (e) Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.
  4. 4.
    Perceptible Information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
    (a) Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
    (b) Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
    (c) Maximise "legibility" of essential information.
    (d) Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
    (e) Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.
  5. 5.
    Tolerance for Error - The design minimises hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
    (a) Arrange elements to minimise hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
    (b) Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
    (c) Provide fail safe features.
    (d) Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.
  6. 6.
    Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
    (a) Allow users to maintain a neutral body position.
    (b) Use reasonable operating forces.
    (c) Minimise repetitive actions.
    (d) Minimise sustained physical effort.
  7. 7.
    Size and Space for Approach and Use - Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
    (a) Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
    (b) Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
    (c) Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
    (d) Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.
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