|At the September 26, 2018, meeting of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors, the Chairman of the Development Standards Committee (DSC), Walt Lisiewski, requested that the Township Board consider upgrades to the audio and video systems in Meeting Room 150/152 in Town Hall. This is the meeting room that the DSC uses two to three times each month for its meetings.
Chairman Lisiewski cited complaints and comments from fellow committee members and residents that report they have difficulty hearing the discussions and seeing the presentations and/or the video display resolution does not accurately represent the true colors, tints and hues of items under consideration. Color character and the appearance of color to the mind are critical to the decisions DSC makes on a regular basis.
Township Meeting Room 150/152 is also used for a variety of meetings of other groups that occur on a regular basis. A partial list is provided:
We believe that Improvements to the audio and video systems in Meeting Room 150/152 would have potential benefits to all user groups (including the DSC).
- The Woodlands Drainage Task Force
- Visit The Woodlands
- Village Associations
- Township Employee Training
- Township Internal Meetings
- Conroe -The Woodlands UZA Advisory Committee
- Ironman Texas, Woodlands Marathon, Ten For Texas, Muddy Trails & Woodlands Triathlon
- Planning and Public Safety
- Law Enforcement, Public Safety and Security Agencies
The Board of Directors directed Township staff to research DSC Chairman Lisiewski’s request and provide options for consideration at a future meeting. Subsequently, several options for upgrades to both the audio and visual systems were presented at the October 24, 2018, meeting of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors. The options presented were:
Option 1 - replace wireless table microphones with hard-wired fixed microphones
Option 2 - replace wireless table microphones with wide-array ceiling microphones
Option 1 - replace overhead projector and drop-down screen with one 98" Ultra High Definition Display/monitor, video switching equipment and installation.
Option 2 - replace projector and screen with one 85" 4K LED Display/monitor, video switching equipment and installation.
Option 3 - replace projector and screen with 85" LED Display and add two 85" LED displays on side walls for three monitors, video switching equipment and installation.
DSC Chairman Lisiewski reviewed these options and indicated a preference for Audio Option 2, the ceiling microphones. Mr. Lisiewski also offered another option for the video which is to leave the existing overhead projector and drop-down screen in place and add two 85" Digital Displays on either side of screen. As staff was trying to be responsive to the DSC request, the option proposed by Chairman Lisiewski, was presented to the Board on October 24, 2018, at an estimated project cost of $37,000.
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors took no action on the proposal and directed staff to:
- Solicit additional pricing and bids, particularly for the Video Options; and
- To review moving the DSC meetings from Meeting Room 150/152 to the Board Chambers as an alternative means for addressing the audio and video concerns.
Board Directive #1 – Solicit additional pricing and bids, particularly for the Video Options
Video System Analysis
It is our understanding that the benefit to the DSC of leaving the existing overhead projector and screen in place and adding two large video digital displays is that it provides for a very large display for the audience to view the presentation on the screen with the video digital displays providing higher resolution and detail for color and clarity. DSC members would utilize the new computer laptops for individual, up-close viewing of the subject matter. This option would also appear to provide flexibility for presentation styles and could be used by the departments of The Woodlands Township and outside organizations that use meeting room 150/152.
Township staff solicited quotes from local, regional and national based firms, including Best Buy - Business. The Township received responses from three potential vendors, but only two of which offered commercial-grade video equipment. The two vendors providing commercial –grade quotes were DataVox and MCA. Best Buy – Business would not provide a quote unless the Township paid a fee for their team to review the site and provide the quote. While the mandatory fee from Best Buy was $299.00, they indicated that the project may not be feasible for them and The Woodlands Township does not pay to receive bids or quotes from vendors. During the meeting on October 24, the Board also discussed that there may be potential savings if the Township purchased the video monitors directly from a commercial outlet and had the monitors installed at the Township site.
Township staff can purchase display monitors from a commercial outlet (reseller) at a reduced cost. The cost of the video monitor from the commercial outlet would typically be cheaper than acquiring through the AV integrator vendor (Integrator). Integrators normally include a standard one-year parts and warranty and will assist to get the unit repaired or replaced and Integrators do not warranty customer-provided equipment. In addition, any work an integrator may perform to troubleshoot, repair, uninstall or reinstall customer-provided equipment would be charged to the Township for time spent. If purchasing the monitors from a commercial outlet, it will be the Township’s responsibility to work with the manufacturer for any required repairs. A major portion of the cost associated with the installation of Township provided video equipment is making the proper connections to the existing video system connections within 150/152. This type of installation would typically require installation by a video contractor (Integrator).
There are several differences between consumer TVs and commercial displays. The table below lists the major differences between commercial and consumer displays:
|Designed to last longer and adapt better to various business environment
||Designed for personal home use
|Built for continuous operation (24/7)
||Typically include one-year warranty that requires shipping the display to the manufacture or service center. Warranty is null and void if placed in a commercial environment.
|Include RS232 connectivity used to manage and control the A/V system
||Do not include required RS232 connectivity used to manage and control the A/V system
|Have more HDMI ports and cable connections, which are necessary for commercial applications
||Have fewer HDMI ports and cable connections, based on typical residential use
|Have much higher level of brightness, up to 1,000 Nits, and color adjustments necessary for presentations and text
Estimated project costs – video monitors purchased directly by Township - $23,173.96
For the Township to purchase the two video monitors directly from a commercial outlet, the estimated cost is $9,603.13. The cost to have a vendor install the monitors and connect into the Township system is $13,570.83 for a total estimated video upgrade cost of $23,173.96 through MCA. As noted earlier, there may be some connectively and control issues that would have to be resolved.
Estimated video project costs – turnkey project with MCA $25,341.94
The vendor submitting the lowest cost for a turnkey installation project is MCA Communications. Staff received direct quotes for the video monitors only from the wholesaler CDW; comparing the same models proposed by MCA and Datavox,
Two LG 86UM3C displays were priced at $9,603.13 by wholesaler CDW vs. $12,100.70 from Datavox.
Two Samsung 85” QM85F offered by MCA at $11,771.11 was the lowest bid.
The project’s scope of work entails an integration of portions of the existing audio and video systems in Meeting Room 150/152 with new components that are compatible with the existing technology and includes: two (2) 85” flat panel digital displays, ceiling microphone arrays, control systems, network switches, transmitters, receivers, signal processors, programming and decommissioning the equipment no longer required.
Pricing is based on The Interlocal Purchasing Systems (TIPS) Contracts and State of Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) Contracts. All TIP and DIR contracts comply with state purchasing requirements and are cooperative purchasing systems previously approved by The Woodlands Township Board of Directors.
Audio System Analysis
The proposed upgrade to the audio system in Meeting Room 150/152 is Option 2 which is to replace the wireless table microphones with wide-array ceiling microphones. This type of technology seems well suited to large multipurpose rooms in which multiple people participate in speaking, without concern for speaking directly into a microphone. This is the audio system requested by the DSC Chairman. This audio system can be procured through the State of Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) Contracts.
The benefits of wide-array microphones installed in the ceiling is the ability to configure voice pick-up patterns in three dimensions and ability to adjust them for uniform acoustic performance throughout the room with no dependence to speak directly into a microphone.
Estimated project costs – audio turnkey project through MCA – $11,840.37
Board Directive 2 – to review moving the DSC meetings from Meeting Room 150/152 to the Board Chambers as an alternative means for addressing the audio and video concerns.
The Township Board of Directors requested a review of using the Board Chambers for the DSC meetings instead of Meeting Room 150/152. The following considerations are presented:
Option A - DSC members seated at the Board Chambers dais:
- This option would use the existing audio system and video system utilized for The Woodlands Township Board of Directors’ meetings and Visit the Woodlands Board of Directors' meetings. No additional audio or video equipment would be required. It should be noted that effective audio is dependent upon persons speaking directly into the microphones.
- The computer laptops funded in 2019 to be used by DSC members will not be necessary. The new laptops were in response to improving the resolution and imaging requirements of the presentations but can be returned with budget savings of $14,000.
- The Board Chambers offers video streaming capabilities if there is a need to broadcast DSC meetings in the future.
- There would be two meetings in which the current schedule of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors meetings and DSC meetings conflict. DSC would have to move to Meeting Room 150/152 on those dates or change meeting dates.
To assure that we are meeting the needs of the DSC when considering meeting room changes, staff met with DSC Chairman Lisiewski and DSC Member John Brown on April 11 to review the options. The preference expressed by the DSC representatives is to leave the projector screen in place, add commerical displays on either side of the projector screen, postpone consideration of the audio upgrades and proceed with acquisition of computer laptops (as budgeted) for DSC members. The recommended cost of the turnkey project is $25,341.94 with MCA providing the two monitors and the installation to connect to the Township system. Staff believes that this option will work well for the other users of meeting room 150/152.