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New Arizona courthouse facilitates seamless communication with a state-of-the-art AV solution

Arizona Courthouse
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“We now have an audio video system that provides the same level of services and advancements that a professional AV company could have installed for us. In addition, we are now positioned to provide immediate support or changes ourselves to provide an even greater return on investment.”
Kyle Rimel | IT Director, Mohave County Superior Court

Background

Located in Kingman, Arizona, the recently completed Mohave County Superior Courthouse is a $20M building with four stories, seven courtrooms, four jury rooms, two conference rooms, and over 100 employees. A long-awaited addition to the county’s judicial system, the new building’s AV setup provided a unique set of opportunities – and challenges –for the court’s IT Team, from the initial design process through to ongoing maintenance and planning for future expansion.

For the past 18 years, Kyle Rimel has worked as the IT Director for the Mohave County Superior Court. In September 2020, he was awarded the G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) for his role in quickly and effectively transitioning jury selection to a remote process at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goals

Instead of relying on an outside vendor to install and maintain the AV system for the new courthouse, Kyle and his team – most of whom are Kramer-certified – were tasked with creating a custom solution from the ground up. He explains, “The original cost to complete the building was just too expensive, so they started cutting costs. Two years ago, when we kicked off the building design, our presiding judge asked me specifically, ‘Can you implement the AV yourself?’ I was confident I could take on that level of work, and because of that decision, we were able to pull the trigger and move forward.”

Logistics were also an important consideration. Spanning both sides of the Grand Canyon, Mohave is the fifth-largest county in the United States. This makes even intra-county travel a difficult process – let alone travel from larger cities such as Flagstaff or Phoenix. And so for Kyle and his team, being able to troubleshoot and make on-the-fly changes to the courthouse’s AV interface without outside support was critical.

“We don’t have any AV companies within a hundred miles, and if we have something fail, we can’t afford to wait four hours for somebody to drive from Phoenix,” says Kyle. “We need that courtroom up and running, so we needed to build a system that we could maintain internally.” This is where Kramer stood out from its competitors.

The Solution

Kyle noted that he and his team were able to purchase Kramer products directly from CDW Corporation – providing necessary autonomy and helping cut costs on the installation.

“Right away Kramer’s interface was much easier for us to follow, maintain, and implement,” Kyle explains. “We looked at other Kramer products and found that they offered most of the solutions we were looking for, so we selected them for our new building. I was able to add hardware, add individual images, build my touch panels, and get a working system within a matter of a couple of days.”

Kyle and his team installed Kramer’s VP-444 for video switching, the VM-218DT for monitor distribution, TP-580R to receive the video signal on each of the eight monitors, the PT-571, and PT-572+ to extend the inputs from the attorneys’ tables and lectern for all other inputs (such as Blu-ray players and document cameras). All equipment runs over a CAT6 cabling infrastructure and is controlled by a Kramer SL-240C with two integrated Kramer touch panels.

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“Kramer’s interface was much easier for us to follow, maintain, and implement. We looked at Kramer products and found that they offered the majority of the solutions we were looking for, so we selected them for our new building. I was able to add hardware, add individual images, build my touch panels, and get a working system within a matter of a couple of days.”
Kyle Rimel | IT Director, Mohave County Superior Court

Value

For a busy courtroom setting with several users on any given day, ensuring the system was intuitive was of utmost importance. “I have designed separate pages and buttons on the Kramer touch panel to control many different pieces of equipment. For example, I have built a separate page just to control the DSP to allow the judge to control each individual microphone, pump white noise into the courtroom, or adjust the audio levels into and out of the courtroom,” Kyle continues.

Fully integrated control of the video conferencing system and a PIP controller also allows the judge to choose which of four different camera views he or she wishes to display to remote parties at the touch of a button.

The reception from judges, court administrators, and the Board of Supervisors has been overwhelmingly positive – a night-and-day improvement over their old VGA environment. “Prior to this setup, judges were not able to control audio at all. Some judges literally had to go to the amplifier and increase or decrease the volume. Even though we had some volume knobs, the way we did it was archaic. We’ve evolved.”

Overall, as Kyle reflects, “The amount of work my team and I have invested into this building and specifically each individual courtroom has been tremendous, from design to installation. But as a result, we now have an audio-visual system that provides the same level of services and advancements that a professional AV company could have installed for us. In addition, we are now positioned to provide immediate support or changes ourselves, to provide an even greater return on investment.”

After a successful installation at the courthouse in Kingman, Kyle and his team are now looking toward a future pair of projects elsewhere in Mohave County. First, they plan on completely renovating the old courthouse – a 100-year-old building that has a mishmash of different types of audio-visual technologies. Second, one of the county’s municipal courts has also decided to construct a new building with three additional courtrooms.

When asked whether he will be using the same Kramer equipment in these two upcoming projects, Kyle gave a definitive answer. “Absolutely!”

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