Walking the show floor at any conference for public safety professionals is a great opportunity to check out the latest and greatest offerings from the industry’s top vendors. Never was this more true than at The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials’ (APCO) Annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans, which took place in early August.
Not surprisingly, my favorite part of these exhibitions is visiting other dispatch furniture manufacturers. There is nothing better than touching, feeling, and sometimes riding up and down on the furniture! I have 17 years of experience in this industry, and want to share with you what stood out to me.
So without further ado, here’s what you missed from the dispatch furniture vendors at APCO 2014 (in alphabetical order):
Bramic: Bramic is based in in Ontario, Canada. This year they had a 10 by 30 foot booth that showcased one of the their Marathon 6/4 stations, along with a conference table and a nice-looking locker. The Marathon 6/4 is dual-surface, which means the keyboard and monitors can be moved separately. This provides better ergonomics than a single-surface station. The color theme was black with a cherry wood grain.
Eaton: Eaton is headquartered in Worcester, Mass. They were located at the back of the tradeshow floor, but had a nice 20 by 20 foot booth. Their dispatch station had server racks, and to the side was a nice EOC-type table where the monitors raise up from below. Eaton had black-painted sheet metal cabinets with a cherry wood wrap around the back.
Evans: Evans is another Canadian company out of Calgary. Evans had two stations in their booth. One was their Dispatch III station, which has a slatwall and five monitor arms holding screens. The other station was a single surface with a cool monitor arm that held five monitors, and was equipped with motors to move it back and forth and tilt them all together. This station is currently in use at the LAPD. As for color, they had light maple covers on the cabinets.
Russ Bassett Corporation: Russ Bassett, based in Whittier, Calif., was at the back of the tradeshow floor, and were showing both single-surface and dual-surface workstations. Each station had monitor arms to adjust the screens and nice smoked plexiglass across the back of the station. Much like Eaton and Bramic, Russ Bassett also had black-painted sheet metal cabinets with a cherry wood grain for the surfaces.
Watson Dispatch: Watson is out of Poulsbo, Wash., and immediately stood out by breaking the black sheet metal cabinet theme with some modern color combinations. Watson had their Mercury line of furniture on display, which is basically a single surface, but with the monitors on upside-down lift columns to create a dual surface type of workstation. Watson also stepped out of the box with straight, rectangular stations instead of the more common corner style.
Xybix Systems: Xybix is based in Littleton, Colo. Xybix had one station with two 39-inch 4K screens mounted to a RollerVision monitor rack. This allows dispatchers to use hi-resolution screens, which are much easier on the eyes. Xybix also had a new tech tower on display, which is lower than before — moving from 48 inches in height down to 42 inches. This reduces the "boxed-in" feeling dispatchers often have. Xybix showcased a light green and beige work surface with a light cherry color for the cabinets.
The big takeaway question I have after the APCO is: Why all the black? Sure, black hides imperfections, loose cables, etc., but it seems in general that the office-furniture industry is moving toward lighter colors. Is it that dispatch centers don’t want a warmer, more modern-looking center? Maybe they like the tougher look of black workstations? No matter what the answers are, given what the furniture manufacturers had on display at APCO, customers have many options to choose from, which go far beyond color choice.