17.07.14

Bank's room management made easy

AUTHOR: Inavate
Touch panels inside and outside the meeting space

British integrator FitzPro was tasked with carrying out installation in the offices of a newly launched bank in the heart of London. 

A systems integrator wishing to be recommended for a high profile project could do worse than carry out a successful installation at the corporate offices of an international infrastructure investment company. This is how British integrator FitzPro found itself put forward to carry out installation in the offices of a newly launched bank in the heart of London. The two jobs would have a common theme of an AMX infrastructure.

“We worked very well with the building contractors and their contracts manager put us forward for this next project,” explained Rich Denham, managing director of FitzPro.
“On that particular job we had used AMX’s Enova 32x32 matrix for the first time in the UK, something I realised when I saw serial number on the unit ended in ‘001’. It was also the first time AMX Modero landscape panels had been used in the UK.”

The brief for the new project was to identify the performance specification for the new meeting rooms. FitzPro ultimately needed to equip the meeting rooms in the bank’s HQ with screens and projectors; install a system to distribute analogue and digital sources throughout the building and, finally, provide a room booking system that integrated with the one that the company was already using. The latter task proved to be a challenge as the existing room booking system was desktop-based, with employees booking rooms through their computers. Once electronically booked, a secretary would have to go and stick a piece of paper on the door to notify people which room had been reserved.

Denham explained: “The system used by the bank is a booking platform called Just Ask. It was quite challenging for us to develop interfaces to ensure AMX processors would be able to talk to that system reliably to both allow users to continue using the desktop and laptop based interface they were familiar with and feed that information through to the screens outside the rooms.”

In a broader sense, this aspect of the installation had a more important role to play.

“In London space is at a premium and if you have a nice big building with lots of meeting rooms you really don’t want to see them sitting empty,” Denham said.
“With the touch panels we installed outside the rooms people can check whether the room is free and also see upcoming bookings.
“Depending on the settings of the rooms they can also come up and make ad-hoc bookings as and when necessary. That greatly increases the usage of the meeting spaces as people can grab them when they are needed.”

FitzPro provided 36 AMX Modero X series 7” touch panels to TSB, most being wall-mounted outside the spaces for room booking use, while the rest were tabletop models for control of screens and projectors within the room.

“We’re fairly product agnostic and we chose to go with AMX Modero X touch panels this time as the property directors liked the look of them; they are very slick with a modern appearance,” Denham commented.
“As far as the design of the touch panel software goes, our programmers worked closely with the architects to ensure the company colours and logos were properly adopted.”

The central element of the install was an AMX Enova DGX 16 matrix, chosen to fit in with FitzPro’s overall vision that the spaces be kept as flexible as possible to cater for additions or changes in the future. The bank’s HDMI and HDCP, full HD video and control signals were to be transported over Cat6e cable.

Denham explained: “With the Enova centralised system – basically we were able to build a very versatile system using our understanding of structured cabling – we do find with a lot of corporate installs is that [the clients] want to remodel the space after a certain amount of time.
“On a traditional system you’re putting in bespoke cabling like HDMI, VGA; you’re limited on your run lengths and sometimes you have to put quite expensive cabling in. There were also no issues with scaling or aspect ratio switching using the Enova system.
“We wanted to move away from having bulky equipment in the rooms like matrix switches and controllers. The idea of having a centralised matrix was to pull as much equipment out of the rooms as possible use the transmitters on the tabletops as the input cables – HDMI and VGA – and then utilise structured cabling.”

Several meeting rooms have dividing walls which, when opened, automatically configure the screens in the room to display the same thing without the need for user intervention. TSB holds a bi-monthly town hall-style meeting in the larger meeting rooms and FitzPro installed a system for control and distribution of the audio to cater for this. The person giving the speech uses a Audio Technica head worn mic feeding to an Extron DMP64 digital signal processor held in a Canford V-frame rack mounted in the ceiling void. The DMP64 is controlled by an iPad, allowing staff to turn the mics on and off when required.

Head worn mics feed into the DMP64 to be mixed and tidied up within the processor, a local feed then goes to an Extron XPA2011 amp and on to flat panel ceiling speaker for local voice enforcement, a return feed is then sent from the DMP64 via an in ear system to a Cisco spider phone to the bank’s telephone conference system.

Elsewhere, the onboard media players in Samsung displays led to FitzPro to choose them for this project. The capability makes it simple for users with access clearance to update and select content to be shown on the screens.

“The screens in the reception areas and café can be used to show broadcast TV which is routed through the Enova system,” Denham said.
“The screens have built-in MagicInfo players so it’s very easy to load content via the USB. That content can be accessed at any time. Control over that content is taken care of by an iPad which is linked to the system by TP control. This means an engineer can take control of many parts of the system, including the reception screens, and decide what is shown on there. “

Displays mounted on glass wall partitions presented a further challenge.

“There are no sockets or plugs on these so we used the Extron USB Extender,” he said.
“You have the USB inputs in the comms room and if you need to load content onto that screen you do it from there, using an iPad to download content into the screen. That content will remain in that media player meaning you can be use the displays for broadcast TV, digital signage, or anything from the meeting rooms.”

Since the installation FitzPro have been back to create two more additional meeting rooms with screens and touch panels, and have added a further eight room booking panels to the system. Adopting a centralised approach to cater for future room changes in the first instance has saved the client money and FitzPro time and hassle on these later jobs, said Denham.

Fitzpro have again been back to install a new IPTV system for the media team consisting of an Encodedmedia 12 MUX TV server with a number of media players and display. This allows the media team to monitor multiple TV channels as required records all the user’s critical TV channels on a seven day loop allowing then to go back through the programming to check for any reference to TSB and its staff. As all channels are recorded at once if they miss something of interest they can come back to it later and catch up. Programming can then be kept permanently by choosing to keep the content, and it can then be shared via the company's intranet as required.

“Changing the use of rooms or adding more to the system was very simple to do because we had spare capacity in the Enova matrix,” he said.
“We simply added more transmitters and receivers to the system and, with a very simple bit of code added in, you achieve what you want without the massive upheaval of pulling floors up to run cables in - the structured cabling is already in place.”

Denham concluded that the expandability of the system had been of great benefit.

“I’m very glad at the beginning that we did impress that on the client and that they took heed of it,” he explained.
“Now further down the line it has been very easy to implement the changes they have asked for. We do find that if you get the core of the system right then you can easily expand on it.”