Best Practices for Safe Edge Computing for AV Management
Many of you reading this already understand edge computing, although it probably means different things to different people. By definition, edge computing is done at the edge of the network, close to the data source. In cloud computing, data is sent back to the cloud for processing. So is it just a fancy way of differentiating between distributed and centralized computing, some older terms for similar concepts? Perhaps, as the computer and software industries excel at developing new terminology for old concepts applied to new platforms.
We joke a little here, but let's look at an example. Apple's fancy term for software-enhanced photography and computational photography is taking advantage of the considerable processing power of today's iPhones to do some serious editing, enhancement, and tricks with images. Could that be done in the cloud? Yes, as Google Photos does with any browser-equipped device. So what are the advantages of doing this at the edge? If you have the computational power, edge computing can enable faster, more responsive applications. And the less potentially sensitive information that has to travel back and forth from the cloud, the more secure the application.
Security is important in edge computing. And edge computing is important in network monitoring and management of AV devices in internal networks. You don't want all those inherently insecure devices directly connected to the internet, as they present many attack points into your network for would-be hackers. Instead, an edge appliance or computer sits at the "edge" of your network, monitoring and collecting information and sending it back to the cloud to aggregate into other management systems. But how do you ensure the security of the edge appliance sitting in your Scottsdale, AZ offices from the wild and woolly internet? That’s what we explore further in this blog post.
Insights from Data Help Create More Adaptive Workplaces
As you are aware, this is a data-driven world. Activity data is used everywhere to help shape products, cities, experiences, and just about everything you can think of. Sensor and GPS technology, software interfaces, and smartphones are the catalysts for much of it, but in the workplace, there are other methods for collecting information and gaining insights.
For instance, companies have used occupancy sensors for years to understand building usage patterns better, manage capacity planning, and create more energy-efficient environments. In today’s hybrid work environments, they are even more useful. Now, companies can measure how much to stock the snack areas based on heat maps showing the space's usage. Similarly, companies can also gauge the use of attractive common areas and other perks. Armed with data, they make better decisions on the usage of space, specific facilities, and plan for future needs.
Nowhere is data more useful than in the planning for meeting and collaboration spaces. Today’s systems measure how much rooms are used, what equipment, how many people are in a meeting, and more. With hybrid work environments, the future for balancing in-office versus remote work is being defined in real-time. With advanced workplace analytics, a company in Scottsdale or anywhere in the world can study usage and create more adaptable and optimized environments. Keep reading below to learn more about how analytics can shape your workplace.
Using Commodity Hardware and Software Solutions to Provide Specialized Solutions
Once a term previously only used in business and production discussions, it seems that everyone is now acutely aware of the global supply chain. The pandemic shutdowns caused production and logistical disruptions usually only seen in wartime situations. While everyone has heard of automobile production slowdowns due to a critical shortage of specialty semiconductor chips, those in the AV and IT spaces also know it’s affected AV systems that don’t get as much attention as automobiles.
What does this mean? Just like Ford cars sitting in vast lots waiting for chips that enable them to work, specialty AV solutions have also experienced production and availability delays. Whether it's room control systems or integrated AV soundbar solutions for meeting rooms, the deployment of video conferencing and collaboration solutions is challenged in many organizations.
As workforces return to offices, this presents more of a challenge. With hybrid work environments, the need to reimagine communication and collaboration between in-office and remote workers is even more important, yet the latest technology that facilitates it is not readily available.
Fortunately, there are alternatives. While there’s no substitute for the specialized chipsets that provide critical functionality that make cars run, there are solutions to integrate software with commodity hardware to provide the missing pieces in the deployment of communication and collaboration solutions. Let’s explore how a managed services model can help your Scottsdale, AZ organization meet its hybrid workforce technology challenges.
Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery Lets Everyone Enjoy More Participatory Meetings
The past two-plus years of the pandemic brought Zoom meetings into the modern lexicon. As work went remote in companies small and large, video conferencing became the go-to approach for meetings and interaction. Zoom is not the only video conferencing and collaboration solution, but its ease of use made it the standard for many organizations.
Hearing is Understanding
It wasn’t too long ago that conference room audio consisted of a lowly speakerphone. In the U.S., some of the first speakerphones were speaker add-ons to the ubiquitous Bell system phones in executive offices and boardrooms. In the 1980s and 1990s, Polycom’s (Poly today) popular Soundstation speakerphones did much to diminish the use of the phrase “can you hear me now” at the start of every conference call.
Audio is still critically important in today’s age of video conferencing, hybrid workplaces, and fully remote teams. For individuals working on a laptop or even a smartphone, being heard is not problematic with the ever-higher quality of microphones in these devices and software DSP that can mitigate ambient noise. In a small huddle room, all-in-one devices like a Poly soundbar with a camera and microphone employ beam-forming microphones that do a reasonably good job capturing a small group. However, put a large group of people in a conference room, and the auditory challenges increase significantly.
Let’s take a closer look below at some of the issues and ways to improve sound quality and intelligibility in conference room audio-video systems.
Many companies have adopted a new breed of unified communications solutions like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Workspace, and others. The reasons are straightforward – these platforms put all the necessary forms of collaboration and communication under one roof with excellent integration. Voice, messaging, videoconferencing, online meetings, document sharing, and mobile applications are all within a common interface with one login credential and strong administrative features for the organization.
Digital Signage Is More than Just a Marketing Medium
Digital signage is a popular solution for imparting information that informs and engages various audiences and constituencies. Two broad technology advances are adding additional intelligence to digital signage solutions to make them even more effective, engaging, and important. One is cloud-connected management, and the other is artificial intelligence (AI).
You might already be thinking, aren’t those two areas the underpinnings of almost every smart device today? Of course, you’re right. But it wasn’t so many years ago that many digital signage systems were based on a local player attached to a display screen via USB. Today, cloud-based content management and monitoring make it much easier to keep a large network of digital displays of all sizes running fresh content and enabling more sophisticated communication campaigns. In addition, AI enables more intelligent and customized approaches to digital signage display solutions. Let’s take a look at three innovative applications for digital signage.
Access, Control, and Usability Are Keys to Success
Will the hybrid work model be just a passing fad? As pandemics fade into memory, will companies demand that workers get back into physical offices in the name of productivity and fostering interpersonal relationships? We can’t predict the future, but the reality is that hybrid work was already a growing trend thanks to technological advancements.
Twenty years ago, knowledge workers could telecommute (a now quaint-sounding term) with voice and internet access. The experience was less than perfect, as the integration of offsite staff into onsite meetings and activities was not quite there with the existing technology. The advent of unified communication and collaboration (UCC) solutions provided powerful and scalable tools for workers to have a common platform that worked not only in the office but anywhere with a solid internet connection.
These solutions, embodied by such platforms as Cisco/WebEx, Microsoft, Zoom, RingCentral, Google, and others, provide a rich set of tools for knowledge work, unifying voice, video, messaging, collaboration, presence, and meeting tools into easy-to-use software. Further, these solutions have all moved into cloud-hosted SaaS (Software as a Service) models, making them easier to administer, manage, and scale.
How does this unified communication as a service model impact hybrid work? Read on below for more