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Commuters in New Orleans and the surrounding areas are getting around a little bit easier these days as a result of the new 29,120ft2 New Orleans Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC), recently completed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). The center uses ITS technology and regional coordination to facilitate better communication among drivers, traffi c operations staff, emergency response personnel and other agencies in order to maximize the effi cient use of existing roadways in the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St Bernard, St Charles, St John, St Tammany and Tangipahoa.

The RTMC employs DOTD traffi c management staff to actively monitor real-time traffi c information on roadway conditions and distribute this information to drivers and emergency response personnel by using tools such as traffi c cameras and vehicle detectors, Dynamic Message Signs, Twitter and the 511 Traveler Information System. As a result, drivers can avoid traffi c congestion by planning alternative routes, and emergency response personnel - such as Motorist Assistance Patrol (MAP), police and fi refi ghters -can decrease the response time to an incident and quickly clear lanes of travel. Operators staff the RTMC continuously to monitor the interstates and dispatch MAPs to incidents ranging from fender benders to stranded motorists. Operators actively monitor 150 real-time traffi c cameras along the interstates circling Lake Pontchartrain.

DODT worked with audio-visual fi rm Creative Presentations to help design and integrate the A/V systems that make this monitoring possible. Two signifi cant elements in the design of the control room include a videowall and several command center consoles. The videowall at the front of the control room consists of 12 67in Mitsubishi rear projection cubes. Winsted’s Sight-Line command center consoles were selected for the operator workstations. "Winsted is very well known throughout the AV industry, especially when it comes to control room applicationspecifi c furniture," says Stephen Bohrer, integration manager for Creative Presentations, explaining the selection process. The RTMC control room is arranged with two rows of consoles: the front row consists of four workstations; the back row consists of two consoles with two workstations each.

In 24/7 monitoring environments such as this, reducing operator fatigue and increasing effi ciency is crucial to control room design. Creative Presentations conducted some line-of-sight drawings to minimize the amount of fatigue on operators looking from their computer screen up to the videowall and back. These drawing specifi cations had a lot to do with the placement of the consoles, the height of the videowall, the height of the monitors and the height of the consoles themselves. "Winsted also provided the ergonomic, 24/7 operations chairs, which are extremely comfortable," Borher continues. Each individual monitoring station is equipped with a headphone system, which enables operators to listen to their own audio or whichever news station they want at any given time. Operators can watch up to eight news stations on the videowall at one time, but obviously you only want to listen to one.

Paul Hsu was the system engineer in charge of the projectfor DODT and was involved in the design, installation and integration of the new control room from the start. For him, one of the most challenging aspects of a project like this is making sure every piece of the puzzle falls into place in time to meet the deadline. "I was very involved with every step of the installations process and I was there every day during construction," Hsu reveals. "All of the A/V components, furniture and wiring were part of my responsibility." Hsu goes on to say that at times there were at least seven to eight different contractors in the control room at one time working to meet the deadline.

Winsted Sight-Line consoles are designed to maximize operator comfort and productivity in 24/7 control room environments. They feature Winsted’s Comfort Edge work surface, Versa-Trak monitory array mounting system and plenty of customizable features to increase workstation privacy, enhance appearance and improve operator comfort and efficiency.

"From an install standpoint, the consoles were some of the best pieces of furniture we’ve ever used," concludes Bohrer. "They made for very easy organization and a very easy install. As well as very effi cient and well thought out access for both maintenance and installation, with a lot of room for expandability."