I had a great opportunity to go to an open house for a newly remodeled dispatch center. This was in Shawnee, Oklahoma, a city of about 30,000 residents. They dispatch fire and police for the city.
A Little Bit of Background Information
The building they are housed in was built in 1970, and it looks like it from the outside. The architecture is single-level brick with a basement and was probably designed for half of the population they now have. Throughout the years this building has been remodeled and changed many times. The evidence of this stems from the fact that some of the rooms used to be jail cells. In fact, the bathroom for the dispatchers was an old jail cell. (I didn’t take a picture, but trust me, it did not look anything like a jail cell.)
The dispatchers were on the ground level in a small room. They had four stations jammed into this rectangular-shaped room. They decided to move them to the basement. I know; that’s usually not a great place for dispatchers. (Contrary to what some people say, dispatchers are not like mushrooms.) The goal was to make it comfortable and nice for the dispatchers, while fitting six stations into the room. Shawnee hired a great architect firm out of Oklahoma City, TAP Architecture, to re-imagine this space. TAP did a wonderful job getting a lot out of a little.
Putting the Vision Into Action
They did not go with a raised floor, as it would just take up too much space with a ramp. All of the dispatch consoles were against the wall, and they fed the power and data using snake trays above the stations where the wall meets the ceiling. With the cables well organized and a “cloud” ceiling in place, they were hard to see and out of the way. By not going with the raised floor, a lot of money was saved.
They put real tile on the floor. Usually this means poor acoustics, but TAP figured out a way to make it work. The walls were covered in a thin acoustic carpet. The “cloud” ceiling had acoustic panels in it, and the Xybix panels also had acoustic noise reduction features. The room was not loud, and you could not hear an echo coming up from the floor. The tile floor will be resistant to stains and spills and should last a long time. This is another great value-based decision that they made.
Their Xybix designer, Cat Miller, worked with Shawnee on over six different revisions. By working with Shawnee, we discovered wants vs. needs, and Cat came up with a layout that fit their new space. She had to do a few tricks to get it to work. Since Cat knew that they would have acoustical benefits on the walls, she was able to forego the panel system on a few of the walls. This saved about 3 ½ inches which is what they needed to keep ADA regulations in place. This is a great example of what a professional designer does; they figure out the best and most efficient way to make it happen.
Hard Work Pays Off
Another great part of my experience at Shawnee was when the community leaders came by to see the dispatch center. It is nice to know that people care. Dispatch seems to be the forgotten element in public safety, so it is nice when the mayor shows up in support of the dispatchers. He was excited to see that the dispatchers could stand at their workstations and be healthier.
Personally, I could not be more proud of the Xybix team and the work that they did. The local Xybix salesperson, Glen Hanson had several on-site meetings to help in the discovery process and facilitate the flow of information from Shawnee to Xybix. Cat Miller Xybix's designer, designed the room, got everything to fit, and made the dispatchers happy. Tim Majszak, our installer on the project, got everything done on time and it just looks great.
This was one of the nice days of being an owner of the business and seeing that what we do does make a difference in the lives of the dispatchers. It also is a testament to what happens when everyone works as a team.
Thanks to Shawnee for having the open house and inviting us along for it.