Date Archives December 2011

SMART and Cisco TelePresence Deliver Enhanced Collaboration

Cisco and SMART have entered into a joint interoperability agreement that integrates Cisco TelePresence with SMART products, allowing conference participants to share notes and applications in real time while participating in live video conferencing. Cisco TelePresence Synch makes the interactivity between the two possible, so that participants can share diagrams that are visible to everyone participating in a TelePresence call. This solution enhances distance learning in the classroom, as well as collaborative efforts that require face-to-face meetings and the sharing of documents that can be annotated, for a collaborative experience. Learn more about the benefits of Cisco TelePresence Synch.

Watch a demonstration of SMART and Cisco TelePresence interactivity below. Contact AVI-SPL at 1-800-282-2733 to learn how you can bring the power of Cisco and SMART into your enterprise with the design and support of the world’s leading communication solutions integrator.

AVI-SPL Employees Ham it up on the Air

Did you know there are a number of ham radio operators that work at AVI-SPL?  

Ham radio (AKA amateur radio) is two-way radio communications for people to talk to friends across town, in another country or even orbiting the planet (yes, people can, and do, use ham radios in space!). The amateur radio frequencies are the last remaining place in the usable radio spectrum where individuals can develop and experiment with wireless communications. 

When cell phones, land-line phones, the Internet and other systems are down or overloaded, amateur radio is a reliable communication method. The government gives many privileges to hams because they regularly assist the community during emergencies. They can play a major part in communications during virtually any catastrophe, from natural disasters (extreme weather like tornadoes or hurricanes, major earthquakes, tsunamis), or man-made problems (industrial accidents, chemical spills).

“The National Weather Service and other government entities cannot see what is happening on the ground during a disaster,” said Jim Kelly, AVI-SPL videoconferencing engineer. “They need real world feedback on what is happening.  About 10 years ago North Carolina had several tornadoes come through so I reported back to the National Weather Service about the size of hail in addition to details about the shapes of the clouds.”

Tod Andrews, design engineer from our Columbia, MD office, recalls assisting in a natural disaster more than a decade ago. “I remember being the packet hub coordinator for health and welfare during the 1994 Northridge earthquake into the affected area. It felt really good to help so many families reconnect after an awful earthquake.”

Connie Valentine, AVI-SPL senior design engineer adds: “The storm watchers and the emergency people do it to help other people.  The FCC is making a real effort to eliminate the radio bands that hams talk on.  Cell phones have given a way for people to communicate easily, but in a real emergency, when the cell phone towers are down, the ham radio operators will be there.”

In addition to helping the community, Andrews also enjoys amateur radio as a hobby.  “You can go camping and bring your ham gear; you can get involved in public safety with local officials. You can even communicate with the space shuttle or the International Space Station!”

Project Manager Doug Wilkens got involved in ham radio while growing up in India where his family was without much contact to the rest of the world. Wilkens began listening to BBC and Voice of America over a shortwave radio to stay connected. His interest in radios grew from there and he began building his own when he was still just a kid. When he returned to the U.S., Wilkens immediately began working on getting his ham radio license. Like all radio, Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and must abide by international agreements.

“I wanted to be able to make my own transmissions to virtually anywhere in the world, just like the operators I listened to,” Wilkens said. “Now years later, I’ve made friends all over the world through ham radio.”

Kelly, Andrews, Valentine and Wilkens are a part of nearly 700,000 Amateur Radio operators in the U.S. and more than two million more around the world. Want to join this group of “hams” or learn more about amateur radio? The ARRL has some great resources on their website!

AVI-SPL Tops Systems Contractor News 2011 Integrator List

In Systems Contractor News magazine’s just-released Top 50 Systems Integrators for 2011, AVI-SPL led all other companies with projected revenues of $550 million – nearly $50 million more than its 2010 total, and over $100 million more than its nearest competitor.

It’s the second number-one ranking for AVI-SPL in recent weeks. The company was also named the integrator of the year by Commercial Integrator magazine, which profiled AVI-SPL for the cover story in its December issue.

AVI-SPL has earned the trust of its collaborators and customers because of our dedication to providing the best service from project consultation all the way to support. Through solutions that include telepresence, Unified Communications, audio conferencing, video conferencing and digital media, we help businesses communicate, collaborate and compete, and have completed over 30,000 integrations worldwide.

Take a look at a sampling of our integrations in the following markets:


Control rooms


Government & Military


House of Worship

Hospitality & Entertainment

Stadiums & Arenas

AVI-SPL also offers the full production resources of our Creative Show Services, a team of directors, project managers and audio-video engineers dedicated to helping you engage with your audience.

To find the AV solution that’s right for your business, complete this brief needs analysis form, and an AVI-SPL representative will give you a call. You can also contact us at (800) 282-6733 or via email at

Can Technology Combat Teacher Burnout?

We often think of teaching as a lifelong profession, with educators taking up post in a classroom and staying there for 30 years. But did you know that the teaching profession has the highest burnout rate of all public service careers?

An article in the November/December issue of THE Journal, titled “Combating Teacher Burnout,” reveals that the average new teacher tenure is three to five years, and that Gen-Y teachers (those under 30) account for one fifth of the workforce. Education policies and practices focus on student achievement and learning gains, while studies show that teacher turnover costs districts approximately 7 billion dollars a year.

The article also notes a study by the American Federation of Teachers and the American Institutes for Research, which found what teachers want most: time to collaborate, differentiated pay for high performance, and technology not only to provide engaging lessons, but for peer collaboration, such as video conferencing.

Education technology also provides teachers a method to quantify learning gains, give feedback to parents and administrators, and improve communication. Teachers who feel that they have, and are, making a difference in the lives of their students, often stay for just that reason. The intrinsic value of knowing your choice of career has changed lives can offset some of the profession’s stressors.

That being said, wouldn’t it be great if we all could take two minutes to remember a teacher who really did make a difference in our lives? Sometimes we relate a story to a friend about school and a particular teacher or coach, but it never gets back to the subject.  I’ll bet you could find some of your teachers on Facebook (or your children’s teachers) who you know made a difference, and thank them personally and wish them a happy holiday season.  That’s another way technology can help combat teacher burnout!

University Enhances Classroom With Cisco TelePresence

Cisco TelePresence 3210Through Cisco TelePresence, the American University in Dubai is bringing a world of education to its students.  The Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication has deployed the Cisco TelePresence 3210 system into its Global Classroom, connecting it with education networks around the world.

One of those networks inlcudes the U.S.-based National Lambda Rail, a networking consortium.

Through this deployment, students at AUD will be able to participate in lifelike, interactive lectures from around the world.

AVI-SPL is the global leader in designing and deploying audio visual solutions for businesses and educational institutions. If you are considering adding distance learning technologies to your classroom, contact us at 1-800-282-6733 or email us at Learn more about the Cisco TelePresence 3000 series at AVI-SPL.