• How to Integrate Public Safety Video Feeds and Surveillance for Real-Time Visualization

     Dec 5, 2016  Black Box

    Active shooter incidents and similar threats have become more prevalent. According to data released by the FBI on June 15, 2016, there were 20 active shooter incidents in 2015 and 2014 each. That is six times more than the two-year period of 2000 to 2002, which was when the FBI began tracking active shooting incidents.

    As was demonstrated by the horrific shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, there is often confusion when law enforcement respond to such incidents as they are unable to see what is going on inside, and dispatchers must rely on oral communication in chaotic situations. There is an increasing need for police operations centers and 911 centers to be able to visualize feeds that they are receiving. The information can come from officer body cameras, dash cameras, helicopter and drone video, public and private surveillance cameras and other public safety data. Having the ability to receive this data as it happens with real-time visualizations could aid in response times and potentially save more lives.

    A Technology Solution

    A technology solution is to install a Black Box Radian Video Wall. These systems can be integrated with DVRs and video management systems to provide all of the incoming video feeds simultaneously on a wall in the command center or control room for real-time visualizations. The information is streamed via the IP to DVR. Black Box has the necessary components to display it via the Radian Video Wall. 

    Video Compatibility 

    The Black Box Radian Video Wall is compatible with multiple formats and video inputs. You can rely on it to display information from DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, SDI, VGA, and IP. It works with all modern video formats, and it supports 4K. Users are able to drag and drop video feeds on the display and can freely position and size incoming video anywhere on the video wall. 

    Flexibility

    The system has numerous configurations, allowing you to create one or more video walls using up to 64 video outputs. It can handle inputs from hundreds of sources simultaneously. Expansion chassis allow greater scalability and come in 4-slot, 9-slot, and 11-slot sizes.

    Trained law enforcement personnel are human and have human reactions when confronted with severe crises like active shooting incidents. This makes it more difficult for dispatchers and command centers to get a true picture of what is happening on the ground at the site of the incident. In the Pulse nightclub attack, several officers responded within a few minutes of the shooter’s engaging the security personnel in a firefight. The officers had a difficult time initially spotting the shooter but followed sounds back to the bathrooms. They were communicating with dispatchers orally. According to the Washington Post, one officer among the small team that made their way in said that the five were told to hold their position and wait for the SWAT team to arrive. If the dispatchers had had real-time visualizations from the officers’ body cameras to better understand what was going on, it is possible that the response would have been quicker, saving more people on that night.

    It is an unfortunate fact of modern times that violent incidents sometimes happen. Having real-time visualizations along with verbal communication can help public safety professionals to better understand where help needs to be directed. As more incidents continue to happen, having quick, real-time information can end the active shooting much faster, saving lives in the process. 

    To learn more about the Black Box Radian Video Wall system and our technology solutions for public safety, visit our website.  

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  • KVM Extension vs. Switching: How to Decide What’s Best for Your Control Room

     Nov 18, 2016  Black Box

    When it comes to managing your control room, there are a number of options and issues to consider, but high on that list will be how to extend access to server and other remote data sources through the use of keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) extenders, keeping the servers themselves in a secure, environmentally controlled server room. Two leading options are KVM Extenders and KVM Switches. So what is the difference? When and why would you choose one over the other?

    Generally speaking. The fundamental difference between a KVM extender and a KVM switch is this; an extender provides a point-to-point extension, while a switch is generally a many-to-many configuration, which allows multiple users to access multiple target systems. Overly simplistic, but think of it in terms of an electrical extension cord that simply moves the female plug socket from the wall to wherever you need it. That is the essence of a KVM extender. A KVM switch is more like a network switch you may already be familiar with, which provides an access path from each device plugged into the switch to users on the other side of the switch. This could mean multiple users have KVM access to multiple computers in your server room.

    Options and trade-offs. As technology advances, extenders and switches continue to be endowed with more features and capabilities. KVM extenders provide a point-to-point solution, allowing a user to increase the distance that a keyboard, monitor and mouse can access a remote computer. Switches, on the other hand, are capable of much more in terms of multiple people supporting and accessing multiple remote systems from a consolidated control room, without having to be co-located with the systems being accessed.

    Control vs flexibility. Bear in mind, there is no need to pick just one solution type. There are many reasons to have computer hardware in a server room with the KVM access in a control room somewhere else. For example, it may simply be an individual computer that needs to be outside of a sound studio to avoid the machine noise and yet allows the personnel inside the studio to operate the computer. There, an extender would be ideal. For many, limiting the human presence in the control room is a priority. KVM extenders and switches can help achieve that goal also. Another example would be where many support staff need real-time access to mission critical data sources, being able to switch with ease and speed. This would clearly call for a KVM switch.

    As is usually the case, what is best is going to depend on your specific needs and concerns. After all, that is why both technologies exist and continue to thrive in the market. To net it out;

    Extender: Point-to-point, one-to-one, essentially moves the KVM from where the computer sits to where the operator sits. 

    Switch: Many-to-many access giving many users access to many remote devices, such as servers and other media sources, allowing for seamless monitoring and control, as would be common in a control room scenario.

    It is important to remember that this is actual keyboard, video and mouse connectivity. It is not the same as a remote login, but rather as if the operator were using the physically attached keyboard and mouse. This is a key distinction. Since KVM access is not dependent on network access like remote login, it can be used even when the network is unavailable and is not subject to network vulnerabilities like hacking and data stream sniffing.

    Still not sure what is best for your situation? Black Box makes it easy with comprehensive integration teams, project engineer experts and 24/7 customer service support. To learn how to manage any computer or server from anywhere at any time, visit our website or view our Webinar: KVM Applications Beyond the Data Center

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  • Black Box Brings Best Practices in Broadcast Virtualization to NAB Show New York

     Nov 10, 2016  Black Box

    NAB Show® New York is under wraps and it was an exciting event to showcase the best in broadcast technology. Black Box unveiled how broadcasters can benefit from virtualization with InvisaPC™. The transition to the virtualized TV station is underway, but hurdles must be overcome. Until then, broadcasters must utilize both physical and virtual resources. Black Box’s InvisaPC is the only solution to make this possible, delivering seamless KVM connectivity through access to physical and virtual machines. As a result, broadcast teams always have access to the technologies they need.

    Black Box’s InvisaPC benefits an array of scenarios through virtualization. This includes:

    • The Newsroom: Whether a large team collaborating during peak news hours, or smaller groups managing live broadcasts during slow points, instant access to technologies they need is pivotal. InvisaPC allows teams to simultaneously work across the same array of computers and virtual machines from a single interface and can instantly re-assign the resources for future events. The result is uninterrupted, high-quality broadcasts viewers expect.
    • The Studio: Broadcasters must quickly change set up from one production to the next to keep up in studio environments. InvisaPC makes this possible, eliminating downtime with access to multiple physical and virtual machines from a single monitor, while routing and re-routing AV, multicasting content and adding or removing screens and interfaces.
    • Disaster Recovery: In the event of a disaster, fast transition from the primary site to the disaster recovery site is vital. Access to disaster recovery systems is achieved using InvisaPC connected to virtual machines; either directly through the facility network or remotely across the company WAN.

    “Broadcasters can realize the full potential of the virtual TV station here and now,” said John Hickey, Senior Director of R&D and KVM at Black Box. “At Black Box, we are providing and constantly upgrading a suite of tools that meet the needs of broadcasters today, and throughout their evolution from SDI to IP workflows. Our customers are armed with the tools and support they need to meet expectations, enhance collaboration and reduce costs to maintain a competitive edge.”

    Download your free virtualization white paper: Broadcast and Post-Production Transition to Virtualization.

    download whitepaper
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  • 4 Features to Look for When Buying a Presentation Switcher

     Nov 7, 2016  Black Box

    Have you ever been in a meeting where presenters changed or the input source needed to change? Typically, this involves switching cables and changing the source on a display, which wastes time and creates distractions. The advent of the presentation switcher has made awkward and time-consuming fumbling around a thing of the past. But not all presentation switchers are created equally. Here are the key features to look for when selecting a presentation switcher for your conference room:

    1. Easy Connectivity Regardless of Source
    It’s very common to have a variety of analog and digital sources that need to connect to a display during a meeting. A presentation switcher that can accommodate a host of inputs, including DisplayPort, is important to maximize flexibility.

    2. Seamless Switching
    When more than one source is required, it can be inefficient and time consuming to switch in between sources. Look for the ability to switch quickly between sources, like projectors and laptops, without latency. Lulls in a presentation can lead to losing the audience's interest. Look for a presentation switcher with the most seamless switching capabilities.

    3. Built-in HDBaseT Extension
    HDBaseT technology enables users to present from remote sources or to transmit to a remote display over existing CAT5e and CAT6 cable. Presentation switchers with built-in HDBaseT extension enables use to take advantage of existing infrastructure saving both time and money.

    4. Future Proof Technology
    Technology is always evolving therefore it is important to look for a presentation switcher that can accommodate change. Look for a presentation switcher that supports 4K UHD with the ability to scale signals up or down in order to match the display resolution. 4K UHD is currently the best resolution we have, so finding a switcher that supports it ensures you never encounter display issues. Backwards compatibility is also necessary, as well, as you will most like encounter a variety of newer and legacy displays.

    In a technology-focused world, presentations that utilize multiple, multimedia tools are the norm. Presentation switchers have entered the arena to make multimedia presentations more impressive, interactive, and seamless. Not only do they enhance presentations, but they also enhance the collaborative nature of a multimedia presentation. Whether you are switching between sources or switching between presenters, a presentation switcher will ensure the process is effortless.

    For more information on Black Box conference room solutions click here.

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  • 6 Reasons Fiber Networks Are Best for High-Security Applications

     Nov 3, 2016  Black Box

    High-security networks, like those used in government, healthcare, retail, and financial applications, require a higher level of network security than commercial applications. While fiber optic networks are well known for their speed, they also present significant security benefits compared to CATx networks. The following security benefits are important to evaluate when considering fiber for high-security networks:

    No Radiated Emissions

    CATx cable, the network standard, carries a risk of radiated emissions while fiber optic cables do not emit or absorb electromagnetic energy.  To transmit data, CATx cable uses electrical signals which conduct an electromagnetic field. Although CATx cables might be wrapped in shielding to help prevent leakage, the risk of possible exposure of the data poses a risk to security. The effectiveness of the CATx cable shielding depends on the material, quality of construction, and necessary flexibility. Conversely, fiber does not radiate electromagnetic signals and is extremely difficult to tap.

    Travels Long Distances

    By using light to transmit data at high speeds and great distances, fiber optic cable has very little loss. Unlike the native 328 foot (100 meter) limit of copper, the distances possible with fiber depend on the style of cable, wavelength, and network. As noted in 8 Advantages of Choosing Fiber over Copper Cable, fiber can travel from 550 meters to 40 kilometers depending on speed and cabling. Longer distance requires fewer signal repeaters and signal boosters and therefore fewer breaks in the system that may be exploited to compromise security. The less equipment there is, the easier it will be to centralizing the system, improving overall security.

    Harder to Tap

    Because fiber is extremely difficult to tap, it offers data security unmatched by copper. Any attempt to break the physical security of a fiber network will be immediately apparent because the leak will cause the entire system to fail. Instead of having wiring closets and equipment throughout the building, fiber networks typically feature a secure central location to house all of the network equipment.

    Greater Bandwidth

    While single-mode fiber offers the greatest bandwidth, the exact speed of transmission depends on the specific types of cable. Fiber carries more information with greater fidelity than copper at speeds of 10 Gbps or better.

    Reliability and Immunity

    The core of fiber is made of glass, which is an insulator, so no electric current can flow through, providing extremely reliable data transmission. Because it is completely immune to environmental factors that affect copper such as electrometric interference and radio-frequency interference (EMI/RFI), crosstalk, and impedance problems, fiber cable can be run next to industrial equipment without concern. Fiber is also less susceptible to temperature fluctuations than copper and can be submerged in water.

    Migration

    The proliferation and declining cost of media converters has made migrating from copper to fiber much easier. Media converters provide seamless links that extend the life of existing hardware. Fiber upgrades may include 12- and 24- strand MPO cassettes, cables, and hardware possibly in preparation for future 40- and 100-GbE networks.

    Meeting Future Networks Needs with Fiber

    Fiber optics are the right choice for most modern networks. Although other technologies may be sufficient, the capabilities of fiber are vast. As technology continues to emerge, fiber optics are making great strides, extending its superior capabilities even more.

    Learn how easy it is to bring fiber from the data center to the desktop with our Media Converters Guide or contact us to discuss an upcoming project.  

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  • 4 Ways to Modernize Your Broadcast Workflow with Today’s KVM

     Oct 27, 2016  Black Box

    As broadcast technology evolves, KVM has advanced to accommodate large distances, high performance, and varying levels of system redundancy and resiliency. But what is behind the KVM technology that allows the system to meet varying user needs? Whether a direct-connect system or customer supplied IP-Network, learn how todays KVM is evolving:

    System Architecture – While KVM was traditionally used to connect a large number of servers to a small number of user stations, analog systems came with use limitations because of their architecture. Today’s KVM has gone digital, and is available as a direct connect or IP network connected system. These systems are designed to offer a high level of flexibility and usability among hundreds of users in a system.

    Connected Options – In former years, finding a fixed input or output could prove troublesome. Modern KVM deploys various endpoints that can be configured as inputs or outputs to offer further flexibility for users. Numerous options exist for the type of endpoint that can be deployed, as well as for copper or fiber interconnections between endpoints and matrix.

    System Resiliency – Broadcast technology has changed, and has transitioned from a background configuration tool of yesterday to a main point of control for today. Maintaining these control points is critical in many on-air applications, and resiliency allows operators to react quickly. In some of the most critical operations, system protections can be integrated to maintain in-sync system configuration and connection.

    Port Flexibility – Today’s direct connect matrix systems not only allow users to configure different I/O port speeds, but to customize connections between endpoints and the matrix. With options like high speed ports, users can take advantage of recent advancements in SFP technology to allow additional connectivity options, allowing high resolution video sources to be switched alongside the traditional UI signals for greater flexibility in monitoring options.

    KVM systems have come a long way since their roots, and as they evolve, they provide a vital link between operations staff and the technologies used to create and distribute content. These important tools have continued to evolve to keep pace with an ever-expanding array of technology and platforms, while at the same time increasing their usability, performance, and reliability.

    To learn more about Enterprise Class KVM Solutions for Media and Entertainment, download our KVM for Broadcast Guide or contact us to schedule a consultation.

    Be our guestRegister to attend NAB Show NY and use guest pass code NY8464 to obtain a FREE exhibits-only pass. Visit us at booth #1508. 

    RegisterNow
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  • Black Box Brings the Latest Technology Innovations to NAB Show NY

     Oct 25, 2016  BlackBox
    Setting the standard in control, quality, and collaboration for the broadcast industry, Black Box will demonstrate numerous live broadcast and post-production solutions at the NAB Show New York on November 9-10, 2016 at booth #1508.  Throughout the show, Black Box will showcase 4K, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), high-performance KVM, A/V signal distribution, and extension and switching solutions that simplify workflows and promote workplace efficiency.

     

    FEATURED BLACK BOX SOLUTIONS

    Upgrade to 4K Resolution

    Black Box DKM is on the forefront of the 4K trend. DKM enables flexible and immediate matrix and cross-point switching to extend 4K resolutions at 60Hz over fiber cable for the highest onscreen resolutions available in post-production suites.

    Go Virtual

    Black Box InvisaPC closes the gap between traditional KVM and virtual machines, helping clients transition from legacy applications to virtualized environments while reducing operating expenses and future proofing deployments.

    Simplify the View

    Black Box 4Site enables users to access and display up to four servers in real-time on one screen. Using a single keyboard and mouse, 4Site KVM switch displays video from four USB or PS/2 computers simultaneously with resolutions up to 1900 x 1200.

    Small Footprint, Big Picture

    Black Box DCX is designed for applications that demand fast and reliable switching of digital HD video, audio, and USB.  DCX high-performance KVM matrix switches deliver zero compression, zero latency ensuring superior quality graphics and perfect video synchronization.

    Extend Over-IP

    Black Box Agility  goes the distance with KVM switching and extension over CATx cable. Agility transmitters and receivers comprise a highly adaptable system that meets the demanding requirements of control rooms and post-production suites.

    Streamline Controls

    Black Box Freedom enables users to shift between computer systems by simply moving a mouse cursor from one monitor to another. Freedom can interface with up to four receivers and switch between targets using a single keyboard and mouse.

     

    Don’t miss this opportunity to hear insights from industry-leading keynote speakers, explore breakthrough technologies, investigate industry trends, and join informative discussions with friends and colleagues.

    Be our guest — When you register to attend NAB Show NY, use guest pass code NY8464 to obtain a FREE exhibits-only pass.

    RegisterNow
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  • Three Ways to Make Workspaces More Collaborative

     Oct 12, 2016  Black Box

    Collaboration is not just a buzzword or trend; it's a way of doing business that's here to stay. Whether you're in an academic setting or a multi-national corporation with a worldwide workforce, collaborative interaction is part of life. Here are just a few ways to make collaborative workspaces at your business or school more effective.

    1. Set Up a Collaborative Orientation

    To start, set up workspaces in a way that will facilitate, or even encourage, working collaboratively. Individual cubicles or lecture-style layouts have their place, but not when creating a space for people to work together. While this mostly deals with the orientation of tables and chairs, consider placement of audio and video equipment as well. Use of wireless presentation systems or video conferencing interfaces must be accounted for in such a way that everyone can participate comfortably, including having their ideas viewed and heard. Also consider the needs of both local and remote participants. The days of everyone being in one room at the same time are fading fast.

    2. Keep it Simple

    Choose hardware and software tools that are simple to use. We’ve all been there: wasting valuable time trying to figure out how to use a program or find the right cable. There are resources that are well-suited for a facilitated environment, but for collaborative workspaces, choose easy-to-use tools. Few things will quell one’s creative ambition to share like being intimidated by the wireless presentation or collaboration tools. When dealing with a physical work space, be certain that access to A/V equipment connections and power outlets does not create a hindrance.

    3. Keep it Open and Secure

    In today’s climate with globally dispersed workforces and supplier/partner relationships, it's important to have a communication framework that can openly and securely enable collaboration anywhere, at any time, on any device. Openness and security are two sides of the same coin — it cannot be one over the other, it must be both. If your solution is not open and supportive of multiple device types such as PC’s, Mac’s, Android/iOS/Windows tablets, and smart phones, you risk losing valuable input by alienating participants. But if you don’t keep it secure, you risk losing valuable information and people possibly becoming reticent to openly share their ideas.

    Whether a board room, a classroom, or a project meeting in multiple rooms, collaboration enables participation from more people in every setting. From a single location or multiple sites across a campus or across the globe, the generation and sharing of information and great ideas is vital to driving business forward. A simple to use, yet full-featured, robust tool set, combined with an overall unified collaboration and communication platform, taking advantage of secure networking solutions is the way to go.

    Need help determining what to include in your conference room or classroom to encourage collaboration? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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  • Migrating to UCC--Easier than You Think

     Sep 27, 2016  Dennis Behrens

    Communications technology is constantly evolving. A one-size-fits-all technology approach suited the needs for voice communications between employees in an age when the number of buttons and size of the phone was a status symbol. Fast forward to now, where employees have a myriad of options for each communication transaction – traditional to collaborative, landline to mobile, company-provided to consumer. The most empowering organizations focus on the experience of their users and clients, enabling choice.

    These Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) solutions:

    • are software driven
    • can involve a single vendor or multiple technologies carefully stitched together, and
    • can include the right mix of mobile, video, and software-based endpoints

    However, at the core, many of the same communication building blocks of the past still exist. Specifically, we all have phone numbers so that we can be reached ubiquitously by anyone (sure – additional technologies can layer on top, like WebRTC, SIP URIs, and more). 

    When an organization chooses to migrate to a new UCC platform, typically a new underlying phone system is implemented. Although this new system promises to enable the new modern communication experience, the manner by which we get there has remained unchanged in decades.

    That is, until now.

    Traditional Approaches: Inconvenient, Inflexible, and Inefficient

    The traditional approach to a phone system transition can happen in one of two manners:

    • a flash cut, or
    • a migration

    A flash cut is quite simple – typically reserved for smaller solutions, the new system is configured and made ready. At that point, all users get moved to this new system in one event. Afterwards, the old system gets removed.

    The migration approach can be more complex. It involves integrating the new and old systems, moving users in batches from old to new, and then removing the old system after all of the moves are completed. Moving the users becomes a focal point in the work effort. In most migration situations the following occurs:

    • the vendor and client teams identify EXACTLY what devices are going to be part of a move
    • the user data gets configured into the systems
    • phones get installed in parallel (which can be mobile clients or softphones)
    • the engineers that understand both systems perform a cutover and test over a weekend or evening
    • the old phones get removed during another visit to each workstation

    This age-old approach works. We’ve all been conditioned to accept it as the norm, the way consumers accepted the need to rewind VHS cassettes in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.  This approach of restarting a video still technically works, but is outdated in the world of Blu-ray and Netflix.

    Black Box felt it was time to innovate.

    bMigrate: Cutting-Edge System Migration

    Why not perform cutovers for individual devices? Wouldn’t this reduce a significant amount of the planning, inflexibility, risk, and delay associated with telephony migrations? These are the exact questions that Black Box has answered with its bMigrate approach and software. bMigrate simplifies migration—providing an on-demand method for moving between phone systems by utilizing software automation to perform the migration work predictively. This approach transforms the experience for end users and technical teams alike:

    • the technical teams no longer need to be EXACT about what devices are going to be transitioned and when
    • the engineers that know both systems don’t need to be engaged for coordinated cutovers
    • the end user no longer will have phones installed in parallel, reducing confusion
    • testing can be performed AT THE ENDPOINT to assure everything works the first time
    • endpoints can be installed at any time of the day and the cutover will only affect that specific user (This is especially helpful in 24x7 environments or where a user already has an IP phone.)

    If your organization is considering an upcoming transition to a new UCC platform, how would you like it to be performed? Would you consider renting and rewinding a VHS video instead of streaming with Netflix? 

    It’s time to evolve.

    To download more information about how bMigrate can work for you, visit our website.



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  • 7 Tips for Removing Corporate Collaboration Barriers

     Sep 15, 2016  Black Box

    The benefits of collaborative work environments are countless—from saving time to more effective outcomes. Many organizations struggle trying to find the right solution for removing collaboration barriers and improving meeting effectiveness.  Here are seven tips that may help your organization.

    1. Select a tool that is easy to use. Systems that are hard to set up and difficult to use will lead to system abandonment. Often, the first 5 or 10 minutes of a meeting is spent setting up. To avoid this costly time robber, look for a product with an intuitive user interface (UI) that requires little or no training to use and enables sharing within seconds.

    2. Be sure your solution can support any type of device. In a BYOD world, all types of devices can be found in a corporate conference room. Live stream desktop, apps, docs, images, and videos may be shared from any laptop, tablet, iOS, or Android device. This is particularly important as millennials enter the workforce.

    3. Offer both wired and wireless connectivity. Some devices require a wired connection while others can connect wirelessly. A solution that allows for both wired and wireless connectivity at the same time will eliminate any connection guesswork.

    4. Enable collaboration with people outside of your organization.

      In many instances, people from outside of your business will want to share and collaborate with your team. To ensure the highest levels of security, look for a collaboration tool that has dual-network support. This means that internal team members are connected via your corporate network and visitors are connected via a guest network.

    5. Don’t limit the number or type of things can be shared. There may be times when the group needs to share multiple items at the same time for comparison. Being able to share an unlimited number of items is a great feature to look for when selecting the collaboration tool.

    6. Allow for an unlimited number of participants.

      If your meetings typically have more than two to four people, you’ll need to look for a system that allows an unlimited number or users. 

    7. Provide for meeting moderation. 
      In some instances, a team member may need to be able to manage the meeting and control who shares what and when. There are collaboration tools with multiple-use modes that enable different types of meeting moderation including open, password, screen key, and line of site.

    Black Box can help you design a collaboration system that will create a collaborative environment and enhance meeting efficiency and effectiveness.

    Black Box can help you design a collaboration system that will create a collaborative environment and enhance meeting efficiency and effectiveness. Watch this video on our wireless presentation solution, Coalesce, or contact us today to find the solution that’s right for you.

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