Onstage in the Council Chamber
AUSTRALIA: With staff, councillors and members of the public complaining about the lack of intelligibility provided by its existing conference system and after several attempts to fix the problem, Newcastle City Council put out a tender to replace it. Onstage Presentations Pty Ltd submitted a bid for the work, winning the tender due to its experience of integrating conference systems in councils across Australia.
‘Onstage Presentations Pty Ltd was the successful tenderer for the project to upgrade and simplify the existing A/V System in the heritage listed council chamber at Newcastle City Council,’ recalled Frank Cordinally from Newcastle City Council. ‘The project included the installation of a new recording and microphone system, cameras for webcasting, projector, screen and meeting secretaries desk.’
The old conference system had been plagued with different problems seemingly every time it was switched on. Therefore, as well as providing intelligible sound reinforcement, reliability was the key requirement for the new system. With this in mind, Onstage Presentations turned to a Bosch DCN solution, having previously installed 20 of the manufacturer’s conferencing systems during its previous council projects.
The Bosch DCN system installed comprised a DCN-CCU2 control unit, two DCN-CONM chairman units and 22 DCN-DISV-D discussion units. An LBB1968/00 feedback suppressor, three DCN HD PTZ dome cameras, four EVID 4.2T loudspeakers and a Plena amplifier were also deployed, as was DCN-SW open interface and DCN-MR meeting recorder software. Kramer devices were implemented for controlling and distributing signals and the setup was completed with MVI software, an NEC Projector, several 55-inch monitors, POS flat monitors for the mayor’s desk, UPS, a power sequencer, an HP workstation and cards and software from Blackmagic Design.
‘The sound for the public gallery and council chamber is controlled by a Bosch Plena Matrix DSP fed into Bosch Plena Amplifiers and then to EVID 4.2 speakers,’ explained Peter Sinclair from Onstage Presentations. ‘The DCN system uses the open interface license to integrate MVI software to manage microphone, camera and voting control. The voting results and other visual information are displayed on a large projection screen and three 55-inch monitors for all in the council chamber to see. The MVI software also controls three Bosch conference dome HD cameras that zoom in on the last person to activate their microphone button.
‘The new system is simpler to operate than the previous system,’ he continued. ‘Switches are used to turn on and off the system instead of having to go through menus on a touch screen, no power is consumed by the system when it is turned off between meetings and a switch is used to turn the streaming on and off. A single button on the Kramer 8 lowers the screen, turns on the projector and turns off the light over the screen. Also, if the controller fails there are remote controls as a backup.’
The council set up a project control group to oversee the installation. The group was made up of representatives from the IT department that managed the project and the purchasing department in addition to those that could advise on heritage issues due to the building’s listed status.
With the Bosch solution up and running, Mr Sinclair’s statement that the new conference system is simpler to use has been confirmed. ‘The MVI software and Kramer control system were simple and intuitive to operate,’ said Mr Cordinally, when discussing the benefits of the solution. ‘The new control desk is designed and built to blend in with the existing heritage listed council chamber furniture and décor and the Bosch conference PTZ cameras zoom in on those who are speaking as microphones are activated, allowing those watching in the overflow room or via a live stream to see who is speaking and how each councilor has voted.’
‘When the audio recording is played back for transcription, the transcriber can control the recording using a foot pedal,’ added Mr Sinclair. ‘The names of those who have activated their microphone are displayed on the screen. If more than one person has their microphone activated then the voice pattern that appears on the screen next to the name shows who is actually speaking.’
‘Peter Sinclair of Onstage Presentations Pty Ltd was meticulous in the planning, installation and handover of the project, working with us to ensure that we have a system that suits our council meeting practices,’ concluded Mr Cordinally. ‘Peter was thorough, reliable, and responsible at all times to Council’s needs. Newcastle City Council has an A/V system that is user friendly, up to date and reliable.’