Three years ago Newcastle City Council put out a tender, to improve the audio visual facilities in the council chamber. At the time they had chosen the relatively new Beyer Revoluto low profile microphone conference system, using AMX to control it.
Having suffered numerous issues, their main objective was to upgrade the Audio Visual system in the council chamber so it was reliable and simple to operate in comparison to the previous system. Complaints from councilors, staff, and the public had been made where they could not hear clearly what was being said. The people who operated the system would never know from meeting to meeting which aspect of the system would not work when they required it. There have also been many occurances where those relying on a control system such as AMX or Crestron have been let down either because aspects of the system would fail or were not easily changed to accommodate the requirements for different events.
Repeated attempts were made by council to have the problems rectified without successC and in the end they decided to put out a new tender to have the complete system removed and replaced.
The vital upgrade
Frank Cordinally comments that, “Onstage Presentations Pty Ltd was the successful tenderer for the project to upgrade and simplify the existing Audio Visual System in the heritage listed council chamber at Newcastle City Council. The project included the installation of a new recording and microphone system, cameras for webcasting, projector, screen and Meetings Secretaries desk.”
Onstage Presentations have installed more than 20 Bosch Conference systems in Councils around the country and have been impressed with the sound quality, flexibility and reliability of the system. Bosch was able to provide hardware with a track record of reliability, flexibility of control through its Open Interface license and excellent sound quality.
The new system is simpler to operate than the previous system for several reasons. Switches are used to turn on and off the system instead of having to go through menus on a touch screen. There is no Power consumed by the system when it is turned off between meetings. A switch is used to turn on and off the streaming instead of having to go through menus on a touch screen. Once the system is powered using the switches a single button on the Kramer 8 button controller can be used to lower the screen, turn on the projector and turn off the light over the screen. If the controller fails there are also remote controls as a backup. When the audio recording is played back for transcription the transcriber can control the recording using a foot pedal, making the process much quicker for the Secretary. The names of those who have activated their microphone are displayed on the screen, and if more than one person has their microphone activated, then the voice pattern that appears on the screen next to the name shows who was actually speaking.
According to Frank Cordinally, the Council’s Meeting Secretaries found that “the MVI software and Kramer control system were simple and intuitive to operate and they enjoy working at the new control desk, designed and built to blend in with the existing heritage listed council chamber furniture and decor.”
The Microphone consoles for each councilor, staff members and those addressing the council along with the Newly installed Bosch PA system allows everyone in the council chamber and public gallery to hear what is being said, which Cordinally mentions was “something we struggled to achieve with the previous system.”
Cordinally also explains that, “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.” Onsite project manager 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,” Says Cordinally, “Peter was thorough, reliable, and responsible at all times to Council’s needs. Newcastle City Council has an AV system that is user friendly, up to date and reliable.”
The Decision Process
For large projects Newcastle City Council set up ‘A project Control Group’ that includes those involved. In the case of AV in the council chamber the group included representatives from IT (who managed the project), Purchasing and those involved in managing council meetings. In Newcastle there also needed to be input from those responsible for heritage issues because of the buildings status.
The Bosch DCN system is operated by two chairman positions with 20 delegate positions, and 7 of the delegate consoles are designated as VIPs. 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.
The DCN system uses the open interface license to integrate MVI software to manage the microphone, camera and voting control. The voting results and other visual information are displayed on a large projection screen and 3 X 55” monitors for all in the council chamber to see. The MVI software also controls 3 Bosch conference dome HD cameras that zoom in on the last person to activate their microphone button so those viewing the meeting at home can see who is speaking and the voting results.
A specially designed and built control desk incorporates a rack to house the PCs, video distribution and switching equipment with additional space for two meeting secretaries to control the meeting, take minutes and display resolutions and updates on the screens in the council chamber. A video providing more detail of the system can be seen on the Onstage Presentations website at www.onstageav.com.au