When damage occurs to 911 dispatch consoles, repairing it can take valuable time away from dispatchers, IT specialists, and facility managers involved in solving the problem. One of latest improvements from the Watson Consoles’ product design team seeks to minimize that burden. Learn how Lucas Pearl took on one of your desk's frequently used features.
The world of dispatching and emergency communications, continuous improvement and durable equipment, more specifically in our case, dispatch consoles, are an absolute necessity. Your console workstations must be built to last and withstand constant 24/7/365 use. One of latest improvements from the Watson Consoles team, an embedded control switch, has done just that.
Designing for Durability
If you work in public safety communications, you know first-hand why durable, sturdy 911 console desks are key to mission-critical environments. The dispatch console furniture must be able to withstand the demand of 24/7 use and the added interference that comes with chair bumps and visitors leaning on, or propping feet on, the workstation components.
SOLVING PSAP PAIN POINTS
Workstations must be built to last. One of latest improvements from the Watson Consoles’ product design team has re-positioned height-adjustment controls to a flush-mount location along the surface edge. The embedded switch improves the user experience by decreasing interference and pinch points and reducing the risk of damage to the switch itself.
The Best Solutions Keep It Simple
Meet Lucas Pearl, Product Development Director, and leader of the Embedded Switch project.
Lucas oversees Watson’s industrial designers, engineers, and product managers and works directly with international designers and suppliers. He most enjoys that he can see how each of the individuals on his team contribute to make something greater than individual components. Lucas is a graduate of Gonzaga University with a degree in Civil Engineering.
When not at work, he likes spending as much time as he can with his daughter Margot, wife Bridget and French Bulldog Lulu. When he isn’t playing soccer or watching his favorite teams – the Seattle Sounders and Manchester United, he and his family love to travel and are always looking for their next trip.
THE embedded switch PROJECT
Q & A WITH WATSON CONSOLES’ product development DIRECTOR, Lucas Pearl.
Q: What is your core design methodology?
A: My core design methodology boils down to “keep it simple.” I think this is best evidenced in the new embedded switch included in recent Mercury updates. It as easy to look at our old switch solution and be happy with it. The function was obvious, the placement convenient, and it was robust. Yet we were not happy with it. Why did we need to include an extra sticker, a sheet metal bracket and, above it all install, it backwards in the factory just to have to re-install it in the field. When looking at the project and component holistically, it became obvious we could improve the experience of the user and multiple manufacturing teams.
Q: How does your core philosophy influence your design process?
A: This philosophy carries into every aspect of design. The simplest applications are in visual language; I like to take the principle deeper than that. It starts to get challenging when you consider every interaction with the switch and the worksurface, not just from the daily user, but IT, facilities, installation, the production team, and the specification team to name a few. The challenge for me is to ensure the simplicity can be felt at all levels.
Q: What prompted you to re-design the switch?
A: At its core, people work best when their space is simple, calm and nicely organized. If the dispatch furniture can contribute to a more productive workflow, I believe we have done our job well. In a recent interaction with a facilities manager from a large tech company in Seattle, we heard a story that their engineers are all given desks on wheels and the ability to plan their 10-person office however they wanted. Despite this freedom everyone still planned in an organized manner with desks in rows or neat clusters. For me, this helped re-enforce that people thrive when the environment supports their natural tendencies toward calm. This is even more important in the heightened emotional environment of 911 dispatching. We should design toward "calm," a state dispatchers must return to after high-stress calls.
Q: What inspires you within the public safety market? What other things influence you?
A: I find myself inspired by the hard work and care those around me show every day. I know this isn’t exclusive to Watson, but it drives me to make sure I am better every day and truly pushing to make sure we can win. In the public safety arena, I continue to be impressed with how dispatchers guide other people through really difficult situations.
Q: What's next?
A: The future is bright for Watson Consoles. We will be working on the next generation console in which we can take all of our positive learnings from Mercury and push the envelope.
Q: Can you tell me more?
A: I can't give too much away. I can say I am pleased with the way the design team has embraced a user-experience point of view as they evaluate opportunities to improve dispatch workstations. ...Stay tuned.
The Improved Height Adjustment Switch
Part of a recent series of enhancements to the Mercury console workstations, the height-adjustment control is now positioned along the surface edge. The flush-mount housing is simple and clean, a perfect design complement to the soft curve of the surface edge.
The primary switch controls surface height adjustment and contains a digital readout that helps users re-position at just the right height. A secondary switch controls optional monitor array height adjustment. Both are within ADA reach and located to avoid interference with chair arms.
Why this Project Matters
Each of our products are designed to benefit the operators and technicians that interface with them. Our products are engineered to be a durable asset, provide functional value, and to deliver a design punch. Our company culture supports our design methodology in that people come to work at Watson Consoles because it’s a company where individuals affect positive change. Making products better for our customers AND more sustainable really happens. This is one of the benefits of manufacturing right here in Poulsbo, WA. We have visibility and hands-on control over design, materials, manufacturing, and fit-and-finish.
TO YOUR PSAP
Mission critical and life-saving work deserves the support of all vendors, top to bottom. Understanding the work challenges PSAP teams face is critical to delivering solutions that improve a team’s effectiveness. The dispatcher workstation provides a steady platform for the equipment and tools dispatchers rely on, daily. Watson Consoles delivers workstations that support a low-stress, focused and healthful work experience for the mission critical communications professional.