RTS Solutionz Vice President of Engineering Joy Caspar, CTS®, has been working in AV for longer than she will care to admit. Back when the industry was "a wild mess" (to use her words), she was fortunate to start out with a company that encouraged its staff to get educated in technology, physics and the theory and processes behind AV design and installation. That foundation has stayed with her, and she’s continued to champion education and prioritize the standardization of AV practices in her work.
Caspar began her career in networks and telecommunications, helping corporations benefit from AV in their command and control centers. In her 10 years at New York-based RTS, her focus has broadened to encompass multipurpose facilities, large venues, auditoriums and conference facilities, as well as command and control in large corporate environments.
In 2009, she became the first (and, to date, only) woman on AVIXA's Standards Steering Committee and she was integral in the development of the Standard Guide for Audiovisual Design and Coordination Processes (ANSI/AVIXA 2M-2010).
"Just around the time I was working with the AVIXA group on the AV design standard, RTS was building the design aspect of its business. We were very focused on responding to bids and as we built our design-build aspect, having a checklist and a process that was recognized and contributed to by so many experts was important," explains Caspar. "The standard we were tasked with was to come up with a package or checklist for a set of processes that both a consultant and a design-build designer could use to make sure they delivered all the components that a client needed in a project."
The landmark standard outlines a consistent set of the standard tasks, responsibilities and deliverables required for professional audiovisual systems design and construction. The biggest challenge in developing the standard, says Caspar, was coming up with something that could be used for a wide range of purposes. "It was, in essence, steps and deliverables that could be used for both design — how to capture and analyze those needs — and to deliver back to the clients the performance specifications they need, as well as a way to coordinate all of the responsibilities required by the specifications."
She firmly believes that standards in the AV industry are vital not just to clients and integrators, but to the industry as a whole.
"You see clients who make significant investments in technologies, and too often it's a roll of the dice — there is risk in the selections they make," she says. "Sometimes it's simply the talent of one individual that comes down to whether an investment will deliver. Use of standards reduces the risk for the integrator and the specifier (whether a consultant or design-build firm) and reduces the risk for the client."
Caspar uses the Audiovisual Design and Coordination Processes standard in her day-to-day work, as well as the Audio Visual Systems Energy Management (ANSI/AVIXA 4:2012) and AV Systems Performance Verification (ANSI/AVIXA 10:2013) standards. It was a critical part of a recent multimillion dollar AV systems design and specification program she recently completed for a top-ten global law firm in Washington, D.C.
Describing her work and involvement with AVIXA as her foundation, Caspar is truly passionate about the drive toward developing standards. As the lines between AV and IT become blurred, she sees standards as increasingly more vital to the industry.
"In IT there are a far greater number of standards. That's how IT teams and organizations think," she says. "As we deliver projects to the IT groups of corporations, having standards that we can speak to and rely upon and that give us a baseline gives us a little bit more muscle. We can use the standards to help educate these teams."
While she, personally, has achieved a great sense of satisfaction in being able to provide her input and share and receive knowledge from her peers during the development of AV standards, Caspar knows there is still more to be done.
"There has been a great concentration on performance verification and contrast ratios, but I think the industry would also benefit from more execution standards," she says. "We have wonderful best practices and online and in-person training courses, but some of the standards are reliant on other organizations; part of the challenge is how to keep up and maintain a standard that refers to other standards. How to get the job done from an installation standpoint, the nuts and bolts of systems, in my view warrants a standard." AVIXA's latest efforts developing standards like Cable Labeling for Audiovisual Systems address the need Caspar is speaking of.
"The way that AV touches and is touched by other technologies is both exciting and challenging," adds Caspar. "AV is so much more today than it was. My biggest challenge is staying abreast of all of those different technologies, how they integrate with one another, and understanding where they might need additional resources and education."
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