If you're an emergency communications pro, you know how important it is that tools and technology stay current with public safety regulations and workplace requirements. For us, this means designing solutions that ease technology and equipment integration and access. Learn what inspired Design Engineer, Sil B., to create a better monitor array and why it matters.
Constantly Improving Design
Your 911 dispatch console desks are a tool in the mission critical response kit, creating the platform for complex technology and utilities integration.
To drive continuous improvement and innovation, Watson Consoles' teams regularly assess our console workstation solutions against the needs of PSAP users. We seek feedback from customers, like you, as well as vendor partners within the industry, so we can better understand the functional requirements and personal work preferences of dispatchers, IT technicians, and facility managers.
solving PSAP pain points
A recent improvement to our monitor array system was the direct result of conversations with operations managers seeking a comprehensive adjustment solution for shared positions within their PSAP.
The Challenge with Most Monitor Arrays
Sometimes considered a small convenience, fine-tuning monitor placement increases a dispatcher’s efficiency, and decreases physical discomfort – both keys to maintaining focused critical response AND a full, healthy staff.
Have you ever been in a situation where your monitor array doesn’t quite suit your needs? Have you ever needed to pull one monitor closer than another to better view the screen, or to share the screen with a workmate, and been unable to? This is a common challenge, especially at shared positions, when users have markedly different physical needs and work-flow preferences.
Most monitor arrays solve for some, and not all, of these user-expressed pain-points:
I need to extend the touchscreen more so I can reach it. And I'd like to get the speakers off my desk.
I have to move each monitor, one at a time, and that is a hassle.
It would be great if I could move each monitor by itself, instead of all at one time.
We can't adjust the monitor height and my neck is always sore!
Our space is limited, can we mount small-format PCs on the array bar?
Designing a product part, like the monitor array, begins with a focus on meeting user needs and is influenced by materials and manufacturing. As you observe the array solutions provided by different manufacturers, you'll begin to notice that manufacturers make choices on which points of functionality they can accommodate.
In a recent monitor array reboot, here at Watson Consoles, one design engineer took on the challenge of creating a solution that meets a broader range of user needs.
Creating a Solution
Meet Silvestre Barajas, Design Engineer, and lead of the Monitor Array Upgrade project.
Sil is dedicated to console product development and immerses himself in research and design to amplify user-centered console features including comfort controls, tech integration and space-plan efficiency. Prior to joining the Watson Consoles’ team, he was a Design Engineer at NET Systems, Inc.
Sil is a graduate of Midwestern State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is originally from Wichita Falls, Texas and has found that he and his family love the Pacific Northwest vibe.”
The Monitor Array Upgrade Project
Q & A WITH WATSON CONSOLES’ DESIGN ENGINEER, Sil B.
Q: What is your core design methodology?
A: My design methodology could be classified as both bottom up and structured designing. The array project was wide open and could be a complete overhaul. I needed to meet core requirements; how that developed was undetermined. I focused on industry standards and capacities, as well as creating a solution that would adapt to the technology that is constantly advancing, and the fact that every customer has different requirements.
Q: How does your core philosophy influence your design process?
A: I broke down the old array design and identified the key elements that were worth retaining and elements that could be re-imagined. This gave me a solid foundation to build from. These elements included things such as size limits and extremes, and more importantly the ergonomic factors. That process is an example of the bottom up design approach.
The structure design side of it lies with integrating customer and market wants and needs to create a flexible and modular design.
Q: What inspired the array re-boot?
A: When thinking about how technology (monitors, software, hardware, etc.) advances so rapidly, it became evident that a progressive array solution needs to be able to adapt and evolve with those advances. For example, monitors are getting larger and PCs are getting smaller. In order to provide broader flexibility to accommodate IT needs, a new system should meet the current monitor mounting capacity AND be able to house monitor upgrades. In addition, user focus and comfort is key, especially in high-stress environments like 911 dispatch centers. Providing more comprehensive, height, focal depth and tilt options is good for the user.
A new, standard array would need to have a range of options and flexibility that previously could only be accomplished through custom, non-standard solutions.
The overall footprint of the console, and history of purchased custom array configurations, provided a good foundation to start with. Developing a matrix of options based on customer wants, requests, and market research provided a solid structure to follow.
Q: What inspires you within the market, and what are your outside influences?
A: I always try to keep in mind the fact that technology, in general, is advancing faster and faster every day. I would say that is what keeps me inspired. There is always something new to learn and build on.
The way the user interfaces with the various technology elements is also interesting. In general, a task may be the same, but the way each person goes about accomplishing it can be very different. This is especially evident with the way dispatchers adjust monitors for comfort and place tools and supplies to support their work style. A challenge for the designer is creating a solution that meets the needs of multiple users who share a work space.
Q: What's on the horizon?
A: Our team will continue to refine our product details to best meet the needs of the people that use the workstations. I will continue to use the lens of “technology” to discover new ways we can make the operator’s job easier.
The Improved Solution
The robust, extruded aluminum, slat-rail monitor array holds independently adjustable monitor arms and work tools including task lights, status indicators, micro PCs, and file trays. Double stack your array for two rows of monitors.
The user is able to raise and lower all of the monitors at the same time, or each one independently, to achieve optimal comfort, and for positioning touchscreens.
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 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.
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- Meet the Watson Consoles' team
- Future proof with multi-monitor arrays
- Dispatch Console Resources