More and more over the past years, the IT (Information Technology) and AV (Audio Visual Systems integration) industries have converged. Whether it’s running AV signals across a Local Area Network or using a laptop as a source signal for a projector, it’s hard to find a commercial application where IT and AV don’t meet in some form.

ITAV convergence took on new meaning this Thanksgiving, though, when members of the Information Technology Disaster Recovery Center (ITDRC) and members of the AV community, including Staten Island based audio visual systems integration and consulting firm JD Pro, Long Island-based AV integrators Digital Sales Group New York, rAVe [Publications] and the Women in AV (WAVE organization) worked together to bring something special to New Yorkers displaced for Thanksgiving due to Hurricane Sandy.

Background on a Thanksgiving to Remember

When Superstorm Sandy swept across the New York tri-state area, JD Pro was right on top of hurricane relief and recovery efforts, working with our close friends Partners in Sound Productions and the Carl V. Bini Memorial Foundation. (You can read more about those efforts here. (www.binifund.org)

WAVE founder Jennifer Willard cited the post and shared an article of her own across her vast social network, including a call-to-action for the AV industry to get involved in our relief efforts.

Simultaneously, in a phone call with a member of our marketing team, JD Pro’s Jonathan Joyce had an idea: “You know,” he said, “Thanksgiving isn’t going to be the same for a lot of people left homeless by the storm. What can we do to help make Thanksgiving just a little more normal for those in the shelters?”

A Thanksgiving Day ITAV Plan, In Motion

Fast forward two weeks, hundreds of emails and many phone calls. ITDRC worked with DISH TV network to bring Internet access and television broadcast signals in to Staten Island’s Beyley-Seton Hospital, the site of a hurricane shelter organized by Gateway Church, and to Coney Island in Brooklyn’s historic Our Lady of Solace Church. Both facilities were planning Thanksgiving dinners for New Yorkers without permanent homes.

WAVE and the integrators worked to secure the necessary AV equipment, including projectors, screens, and sound systems, to broadcast the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade during the Thanksgiving celebrations. The industry stepped up, with Draper supplying two large projection screens and Vutec offering a newly introduced model.

Digital Sales Group loaned a JBL Eon system and an InFocus projector to the Coney Island location. Late Wednesday evening, WAVE member Dawn Allcot and her husband, T.J., drove with their family from Long Island to Brooklyn to deliver the gear. Dave Silkin of Digital Sales Group, along with ITDRC’s Joe Hillis, provided remote support to help a volunteer from the church set up the equipment and on Thanksgiving morning, a DISH TV technician came out to assist.

Gateway Church had most of the necessary gear for the Beyley Seton event and JD Pro set up a complete AV system to broadcast the parade during the 1,000-person Thanksgiving dinner, in between working on a high profile New York retail integration project with a Thanksgiving Day deadline. Vision realized and mission accomplished.

Working Together

For audiovisual systems integrators, working on tight deadlines is nothing new. As installations go, these projects were straightforward, since they were temporary installations with minimal design work required.

What was noteworthy about the projects was the way two integration firms and diverse organizations from three industries came together, with Jennifer Willard of WAVE spearheading efforts from across the country in San Francisco and ITDRC’s Joe Hillis working from a trailer near the affected areas of New York City. “Everyone involved played an important role in making this happen,” Willard said. “And the amazing thing is they all did it just to help.”

For thousands of New Yorkers who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy, a Thanksgiving dinner and the chance to enjoy the parade on a seven-foot projection screen may not have been as much as we would have liked to give, but it was an important symbol of New York’s strength and our ability to overcome a difficult situation with ingenuity, teamwork… and technology.