Public agencies at all levels of government have a consistent need to see the big picture and the details simultaneously. This need has been amplified by the relatively new ability to harvest, analyze and visualize data on internet of things (IoT) devices — as varied as single-purpose sensors and AI-driven HD cameras.

In command centers, control rooms and operational headquarters, video walls allow agencies to monitor their services, adjust to emerging situations and focus their crisis response efforts. Video walls create a digital dashboard on a grand scale, visualizing agency operations in real time.

Operations and IT teams looking for a video wall that will optimize their workflow have several factors to consider:

Account for the content displayed

End users should think beyond the simple objective of finding a large screen that everyone can see. The on-screen content should directly inform the choice of display technology, as well as its supporting hardware and software.

Operations centers that use displays to share fine details, like text and schematics, need to ensure the content is legible to everyone in the room — at any viewing distance or angle. The same screens also need to meet practical operating needs. Decision makers should account for all of these factors:

  • Color accuracy and high contrast levels are critical for operators analyzing aerial, radar or seismic imagery, where decisions are directly affected by subtle color differences. Orange versus red, or light gray versus dark gray, could be the difference between caution and emergency.
  • Control rooms and command centers tend to deal with sensitive information, so security has to factor into their choice of video wall. The display shouldn’t hold any memory, and its secure operating software should be capable of encrypting and decrypting data.
  • Ultra-high-resolution video feeds and images are handled differently by the two main types of displays used in video walls. A single flat-panel LCD screen can support 4K or even 8K resolution, while a direct view LED screen usually needs much larger dimensions to achieve the same resolution. Each LED is a single pixel; aggregating enough pixels to achieve 4K could fill an entire wall.
  • Your best choice of management, control and switching technologies depends on your operating needs. In a busy control room, operators may want to be able to toggle between different views on the main video wall, or allow multiple operators to push information to the larger display.
  • Interactivity allows operators to walk up to the video wall and adjust information directly on the touchscreen — selecting items and zooming in and out just like they would on a smartphone. LCD readily supports touchscreen functionality, but this is uncommon and complicated on LED screens.

Factor in spatial dynamics

To decide what display technology makes the most sense for your operations center, you’ll want to consider the viewing distances, lighting conditions and physical scale of the space. In most control rooms, displays line a main wall, with operator desks set back, facing that wall. Make sure that the scale of your display matches your space and that the display will be legible to viewers sitting in the back of the room.

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Control rooms are often imagined to be low-light, bunker-like spaces. That impression in large part results from older, projection-driven displays that could only produce bright visuals in a dimly lit room. But direct-view LED panels feature brightness technology that makes displays vibrant regardless of the ambient lighting, even if the room is filled with natural sunlight.

Understand the budgetary implications

Contemporary control rooms have three main video wall options — microLED, direct view LED and narrow-bezel LCD — each of which offers distinct benefits at different price points:

Video walls with microLED

Samsung’s TAA compliant The Wall For Business uses microLED, which provides a superior viewing experience and a seamless canvas. Micron-sized pixels are set against a deep black background, delivering high contrast and detail that rivals premium LCD panels. The Wall also incorporates HDR10+ technology to amplify colors and reveal the brightest and darkest visual details that are often lost on other displays.

For use cases that rely on detail and visual quality, The Wall offers the optimal color and resolution of flat-panel displays, on a seamless viewing canvas that can be scaled to any size — or shape — to suit the space you need it in.

Direct view LED

Direct view LED video walls offer the advantage of flexibility. LED screens also tend to be much brighter compared to LCD screens, making them more effective in fully lit environments.

The cost of direct view LED is directly related to the screen’s pixel pitch; finer-pitch displays have a higher price point because they use thousands or even millions more LEDs than screens with “coarser” pitch. The optimal pitch for your needs depends on the distance between your video wall (wherever it will be installed) and the viewers. An LED video wall with 2-millimeter pixel pitch, for example, will look crisp to viewers seated at least 15 to 20 feet away, but any closer and legibility is likely to worsen, as viewers will see the borders of individual light pixels. For closer viewing, the optimal pixel pitch is 1 to 1.5 millimeters.

Narrow-bezel LCD

In most cases, narrow bezel LCD is agencies’ most budget-friendly option. When LCD screens are tiled to create a video wall, the bezels — the frames, or edges, of flat-panel displays — create gridlines, which are often more noticeable as bezel width increases. Display manufacturers have steadily narrowed these bezels to minimize the visible seams.

For control rooms that use their video wall for numerous simultaneous views (such as multiple camera feeds) — each in its own display block — the bezel seams may be inconsequential. But for schematics, line drawings and blocks of text that span multiple displays, these harsh borders can directly impact legibility and even create misinformation when the gridlines appear to be part of the on-screen information.

As they consider investing in a video wall, government agencies will require reliable, high-quality display technology. By thinking strategically about all of the factors above, decision makers will have an easier time finding the ideal video wall solution for their agency’s needs.

Planning a video wall installation is no small feat, but it’s easier with expert guidance. Learn more about utilizing video walls in the public sector in Samsung’s free, complete guide. Or browse the full lineup of Samsung’s direct view LED video walls — designed for the visibility you need, and detail you can trust.

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Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes is a well-known veteran in the digital signage industry. He consults to some of the world’s largest brands on their digital signage strategy and technical needs, but also spends time mentoring start-ups. A former daily newspaper journalist, Haynes has for the past decade written a highly-respected blog about digital signage, Sixteen:Nine. Follow Dave on twitter @sixteennine

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