Your workstation purchase is a big deal. After all, if you are manning a PSAP console, your team will use these workstations for ten years or more. If you have ever been at a center during a console furniture purchase, you might have heard this, “Why are they asking so many questions right now. We’re not even ready to buy!?” Here’s why.
You should get the most you can from your investment and manufacturers who are experts in the industry ask plenty of questions to ensure just that.
Your workstations are complex pieces of technology furniture; they are powered to run ancillary equipment, they house technology, they often contain comfort controls (heating, cooling, task and ambient light) and they may be height adjustable. To create an accurate quote, a manufacturer should ask questions about rooms size, IT integration, user and facility requirements.
The "site survey" experience
We call this part of the process the Site Survey. While it can feel overwhelming to be barraged with questions, your answers are crucial for a successful buying experience. Here is a list of questions your manufacturer should ask before providing a quote for console furniture, and why your answers are impactful.
PSAP + Call Center Room Measurements
It’s important we get detailed room measurements to ensure the consoles not only fit in the room, but they fit without blocking access to something on the wall such as a storage closet, wall-mounted monitors or message board.
Specifically, you should be ready to share these details:
If you can provide a current and accurate AutoCAD file of your room, this can sometimes be the best way to get exact measurements within a room.
TIP: Most manufacturers can send a trained product specialist to your location to measure the room. If you are interested in an on-site visit, just ask!
IT Integration for Call Center and Mission Critical Teams
Get your IT specialists involved early. PSAPs, monitoring and call centers have varying needs of tech integration that impacts design and budget.
Is power/data coming from a raised floor, wall access or a ceiling drop? We use this information to ensure that the standard access points on the console furniture will work for your application. If the standard access points will not work, then we can design a custom solution to meet your needs. In the case of raised floor and wall power/data access in an existing center, the chances your existing access holes will match up with your new consoles is nearly impossible.
Once you have approved your console floor plan, we can provide furniture power/data access drawings. Power/data access drawings, called electrical access (EA) drawings, provide exact measurements where holes in the raised floor, or holes in the wall, will need to be in order to match the access points in the console furniture.
This is important information to share with your power and data vendors because it allows them to pre-cable your room before the console furniture arrives. Your power/data vendors can also use this information to accurately quote your project since they will know the exact cable lengths need to complete the job.
The quantity, size, configuration and style of monitors on your desktop define the minimum size of your dispatch console furniture work surface. For example, if you want to put five, 21” monitors on a single level, the minimum size work surface you need will be larger than if you are stacking five, 21” monitors, two over three.
Will you be using touch-screen monitors? This is important because the monitor might need to be installed on an adjustable arm that can allow it to be moved within the users’ reach. In addition, most touchscreen monitors require a USB connection close to the monitor in order for it to function correctly.
Computer Towers & Support Equipment
The quantity and size of the computer towers at each console will impact either the size of your console, or the size of the technology cabinet at your console. It is important to consider what you are using today and whether additional space is required for future expansion.
For example, if you chose a console style that stores the computer towers under the work surface, then we want to ensure that the computer storage under that work surface can accommodate your computer towers. If you have chosen a console style that uses an outboard technology cabinet (not under the work surface), then we need to ensure we have selected the best fit for the number of computer towers you require.
This also applies to additional equipment that needs to be stored with the computer towers at the console, like Voice Processing Modules and personal battery back-up units.
Do you have technology at the console that requires grounding? Some radio vendors require R56 grounding standards for their equipment. If the answer is yes, then a grounding bar is required and can be installed within the console.
User Requirements for Focus and Efficiency During Shift Work
Call centers, PSAPs and real-time monitoring staff often share workstations. When operators transition from active calling to ready-watchfulness, focus and comfort controls provide added value - especially for long shifts. These optional features include heating and cooling, task lighting, monitor focal depth adjustment, and height-adjustability.
Do you require environment controls at each console? User adjustable cooling fans, forced heated air and lighting are optional items that impact the price of your workstations.
PSAP and Call Center Facility Requirements for Installing Workstations
A smooth delivery gets the installation ball rolling. Manufacturers ask questions about your facility and logistics because building accommodations can affect shipping and installation pricing.
Dock and Truck Access
When your consoles are shipped, they are in a large tractor trailer style truck. If you have a dock at your center, then normally truck access is not an issue. However, if you do not have a dock at your building, it is important for us to know what the truck access is at you center, because this can impact your delivery.
If the truck cannot get close to the building, then we may need to increase the personnel onsite for unloading the truck in order to accommodate the “long carry” from the truck to the building. If the carry is too long, then we need to arrange for a smaller shuttle truck to transfer the product from the larger truck to the building.
These factors can impact the installation price of your consoles. Having awareness now, means no surprises later.
When we unload the delivery truck, we will need someplace to stage the product. If the room we are installing in is empty, we can normally just unload and stage the product in the dispatch room. However, if we are doing a live cut-over (an installation in a live center) we cannot store the product in the dispatch room. If that is the case, we will then need to identify a space for staging the product. Identifying the staging area early on will save time and headaches during the delivery.
Don't let the buying process get the best of you
If you know what to expect, and why, rounding up the troops for help is much easier. Get your IT Manager and Facilities Manager on-board early. Share this article to help them better understand how answering questions today saves time and money in the long run.
And check out a few other articles related to buying technology workstations for real-time monitoring, and call center furniture:
- Shop wisely for dispatch furniture and get more bang for the buck
- Which is the best material for real-time monitoring workstations, wood or steel?
- Germ warfare: Do antimicrobial laminate surfaces promote health?
About the Author
Eddie Creegan's expertise in facility needs and dispatch furniture solutions helps him engage communications centers to understand challenges and to develop lasting solutions.
Eddie started his career in 1986 installing commercial office furniture and public safety consoles. He received installation certification for multiple product lines and started his own installation company in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2005, Eddie moved from installation to sales as an independent rep for Watson Dispatch and began working directly for Watson Dispatch in 2013.
Eddie works predominately with customers in Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. Connect with Eddie on LinkedIn.