Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 02/27/2019  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a request for audio and video improvements from the Development Standards Committee (DSC);
FISCAL IMPACT:
The cost to upgrade both the audio and video systems in Meeting Room 150/152 is approximately $36,000.  No funding has been allocated for this project in the 2019 Township budget.   The Woodlands Township Board of Directors may consider allocating funds from the Undesignated Capital Contingency Reserve for the project.
BACKGROUND:
At the September 26, 2018, meeting of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors, the Chairman of the Development Standards Committee (DSC), Walt Lisiewski, requested The Woodlands Township's Board of Directors to consider upgrades to the audio and video systems in Meeting Room 150/152 in Town Hall - the meeting room 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. 

In addition, The Woodlands Township's Drainage Task Force meets monthly in the same room and several members of the Task Force and the public attending those meetings have complained about the inability to clearly hear Task Force members speaking. 
 
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:
  • Visit The Woodlands    
  • Village Associations    
  • Township Employee Training    
  • 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
  • CrimeStoppers
Improvements to the audio and video systems in Meeting Room 150/152 would be beneficial to these groups as well as for DSC and the Drainage Task Force.

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:

Audio: 
Option 1 - replace wireless table microphones with hard-wired fixed microphones ($6,999.02)
Option 2 - replace wireless table microphones with wide-array ceiling microphones ($11,720.62)

Video:
Option 1 - replace overhead projector and drop down screen with one 98" Ultra High Definition Display/monitor, video switching equipment and installation. ($23,571.05)
Option 2 - replace projector and screen with one 85" 4K LED Display/monitor, video switching equipment and installation. ($17,123.64)
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. ($24,580.79)

Chairman Lisiewski reviewed these options and indicated a preference for Audio Option 2, the ceiling microphones, and he offered another option for the video:
Option 4 - leave the existing overhead projector and drop-down screen in place and add two 85" Digital Displays on either side of screen.  

The recommendation presented to the Board of Directors was to approve Option 2 for the audio system upgrades and Option 4 for the video upgrades and fund the project from the Undesignated Capital Contingency Reserve.  The projected cost was approximately $36,000.
 
The Woodlands Township Board of Directors took no action on the recommendation 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.

The Woodlands Township staff solicited quotes from local, regional and national based firms, including Best Buy - Business. Information Technology received responses from three potential vendors , but only two of which offered commercial-grade equipment.
 
Best Buy - Business reviewed the project’s scope and responded they did not carry all the components necessary to complete the project and would require a site walk to determine if “this is something we may even be able to do with other products”.   The mandatory fee for the site walk would be $299.99.  As The Woodlands Township does not pay to receive bids or quotes from vendors, Best Buy Business was not contracted to conduct a site walk.  Therefore, a price quote from Best Buy Business was not obtained.
 
Two vendors submitted quotes at no charge for the project – DataVox and MCA (Attachment A).
 
Summary of the Submitted Proposals
DataVox = $36,713.68               MCA Communications = $36,301.41
 
The vendor submitting the lowest cost for a turnkey installation project is MCA Communications.  Note: DataVox’s price for one commercial display unit for business is $6,050 compared to MCA’s price of $5,767.78.
 
There are several differences between consumer TVs and commercial displays.  Commercial displays are designed to last longer and adapt better to various environments.  Commercial displays are built for continuous operation, include better warranty support for business applications and have a variety of settings which can be used for much higher levels of brightness, up to 1,000 Nits, and color adjustments.  Commercial displays also have more HDMI ports and cabling connections than TVs, which are necessary for this application. 

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) 86” 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.
TIPS and DIR Contracts have been utilized for many of the Township’s Information Technology (IT) projects and purchases as the cooperative purchasing program provides qualified agencies, such as The Woodlands Township, the bulk buying power of the State of Texas on their side, which means the eligible customers can buy IT products and services at aggressive discounts. All TIP & DIR contracts comply with state purchasing requirements and are The Woodlands Township Board of Directors approved cooperative purchasing programs.

The recommended upgrade to the audio system in Meeting Room 150/152 is Option 2 - replace the wireless table microphones with wide-array ceiling microphones.  This type of technology has proven to be ideal for similar large conference rooms in which multiple people participate in speaking, without concern for speaking directly into a microphone.  Wide-array ceiling microphones are not "off-the-shelf" retail products and the installation of the high-tech equipment requires expertise and specialty knowledge to integrate the equipment into the Township's existing audio control equipment and operating system.  Therefore, it is recommended to move forward with Option 2 with procurement 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 (Attachment B).

The benefits of leaving the existing overhead projector and screen and adding two large video digital displays provides for a very large display for the audience to view the presentation in general on the screen with the video digital displays providing higher resolution and detail for color and clarity.  This option also provides flexibility for presentation styles and the different needs of the departments of The Woodlands Township and for outside organizations.  DSC members would utilize the new computer laptops for individual, up-close viewing of the subject matter.
 
The Township Board of Directors also 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 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 existing video system in the Board Chambers does not provide the ability for one person on the dais to highlight or direct attention to any specific point on multiple screens, an important aspect of presentations and discussions on DSC agenda items.  This action can only be performed at the podium or staff desk.
  • DSC meetings tend to operate as working sessions, in which committee members, Township Covenant Administration Department staff and DSC’s Legal Counsel have frequent exchanges of dialogue on subject matters.  With staff located at a separate table, the arrangement may not facilitate the same type of working environment currently experienced with the arrangement in Meeting Room 150/152.
  • DSC members seated at the dais may convey a perception to the public, media and residents that the actions of DSC are a direct function of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors; and/or the seated committee has more authority than is vested to the body by the Covenants and may be considered a governing body of the political sub-division.     
  • 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.
  • As other committees and organizations use Meeting Room 150/152, they may request to be moved to the Board Chambers for the improved audio and video capabilities.
Option B - DSC members seated at portable tables on the floor of the Chambers in front of the dais:
  • Portable tables and chairs would be placed in the Chambers for the seating arrangement of the committee.  Two hours of The Woodlands Township’s Facilities Maintenance staff time would be required each meeting for set-up and take-down.
  • The existing video system in the Board Chambers can be used for the benefit of the residents, media and public attending DSC meetings. However, as indicated above, the existing video system does not provide the ability for one person seated at the dais to highlight or direct attention to any specific point on multiple screens, an important aspect of presentations and discussions on DSC agenda items. This action can only be performed at the podium or staff desk.
  • DSC members would use the new computer laptops for their individual viewing.
  • Contracted sound system services would be required for individual microphones on the portable tables, similar to that provided for the few past Drainage Task Force meetings that were conducted in the Board Chambers.  The cost to provide such services is approximately $1,500 per meeting or $36,000 per year.  The audio performance was not ideal and an issue.
  • Additional Township Information Technology Department staff time would be required each meeting valued at approximately $150. 
  • The arrangement of portable tables on the floor of the Board Chambers would provide for the same type of working environment currently experienced with the arrangement in Meeting Room 150/152.
  • DSC members seated at portable tables on the floor of the Board Chambers may not convey the same perception to the public, media and residents that the actions of DSC are a direct function of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors as may be perceived while seated at the dais.   
  • 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. 
If the Board is interested in proceeding with improvements to Meeting Room 150/152, it is recommended to approve Option 2 for the audio system upgrades and Option 4 for the video system upgrades for Meeting Room 150/152 as presented herein; award the project to MCA Communications through a cooperative purchasing contract; and fund the projects from the Undesignated Capital Contingency Reserve.
RECOMMENDATION:
Board to determine action.

    

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