Communicating safety

AUTHOR: Inavate

When McAfee decided to roll its executive briefing centre out to its Amsterdam office it turned to CSL Integration to provide the AV/IT solution. Anna Mitchell visited the impressive corporate facility that combines communication and display technologies to demonstrate the company’s services.

McAfee develops and sells software that provides computer systems and networks with security and protects against virus attacks. It’s an increasingly important market and a service that is crucially vital to users with massively varying security needs; from military and government to corporate users and, of course, home users. We’d all notice if the protection wasn’t there but whilst it is and it’s functioning correctly it goes largely unnoticed. So how does a company like McAfee communicate its services to potential and even existing clients?

The challenge was answered with an Executive Briefing Centre (EBC) at McAfee’s Santa Clara, USA facility. The centre uses interactive technologies, displays and simulations to communicate McAfee’s solutions. It also acts as a communication hub, providing telepresence and videoconferencing facilities for visitors and employees.

With the Santa Clara facility successfully installed McAfee decided to extend the idea and provide a similar facility in EMEA, pinpointing its Amsterdam offices as a suitable location.

“Basically the reasoning behind the centre is to be a more customer focused facility,” explains Steve Warner, McAfee’s real estate manager for EMEA. “After opening the Santa Clara EBC the business wanted to open more throughout various geographical locations. The idea was to have one to serve the EMEA region.

“We have a new EMEA president, Gert-Jan Schenk and it was decided that it would be in the best interests of the business to have an EBC here in Amsterdam. One is locality to Schiphol airport. It’s central for everybody to fly into and obviously Schenk and the senior management team are based here as well.”

The £1.35 million project commenced. CSL Integration, an AV/IT networking specialist with offices in London and Birmingham, was one of five companies invited to enter the tender process for the project and was ultimately successful.

“It was very much a fast track project from tender award,” explains Lance Frampton, director of CSL. “So the whole process took eight weeks from inviting to tender to actually handing over the project. Our biggest challenge was the time scale. From mobilisation to hand-over it was seven weeks.”

It was a huge undertaking in such a short timescale. Frampton continues: “We’re talking about a 10,000 square foot space. It was being designed, developed and constructed by a fit out contractor with us working in tandem to develop and install all of the IT/AV elements within the timetable.”

The EBC is made up a number of distinct areas based on a multi-room, multi-source system. “In essence the whole project covered a multitude of different requirements from a client usage point of view,” says Frampton. “Some of these were for internal usage – so we have a number of meeting rooms – and some were to communicate McAfee’s offerings to clients.” Crestron and Extron handle control and switching requirements with Crestron 8.4” wireless touch panels provided throughout the centre for control.

After entering the Amsterdam office’s ground floor you can access the EBC directly from the main reception foyer. The initial space is a large open area, with seating grouped in various locations. Visitors are immediately greeted by two 46” NEC narrow-bezel LCD displays. The first screen provides visitors with a history of McAfee and they can use the second to search through the various patents the company has accrued. Interactivity on both displays is achieved with Visual Planet interactive foil, which provides single touch control.

Directly opposite this display CSL has installed four further 46” NEC panels in a two by two configuration using Unicol mounts. McAfee use this as its Global Threat Centre Firewall and display a world map to simulate virus attacks in various locations. From this screen users can scroll through and access a number of videos about the company. For this display CSL surrounded the screens with a PQ Labs touch overlay, which provides multi-touch capability.

Audio to support both the Interactive History/Patent Wall and the Global Threat Centre Firewall is provided by directional Holosonics ceiling speakers, Clearone digital matrix mixer and Wohler self-powered speaker system. NTI cabling and switching equipment is also used to serve this area.

On the other side of the wall that supports the NEC videowall are two more 46” NEC panels. These are located side by side and situated above a seating area. They can be used for presentations, accepting various source inputs via DVI. A television feed can also be fed to any of the centre’s displays with an Exterity IPTV solution.

Dominating the far end of the initial open space is a huge L-shaped construction, McAfee’s Collaboration/Demonstration table and the centrepiece of the room. This structure spans about 4.5m end-to-end and houses nine 46” NEC ultra narrow LCD displays. Seven are used on the horizontal side of the structure and two on the vertical to create one, virtually seamless display. Ventilation fans are housed within the construction to extract heat from the equipment.

The whole structure was created by CSL, using a steel fabricator in the UK to create the frame, which also utilises Unicol parts.

McAfee uses this in two different ways. Firstly in collaboration mode the display provides the opportunity for 14 people to sit and work at the table simultaneously. Content is provided via USB ports that only take specific shaped USB keys to protect McAfee from unauthorised data. The screens are covered with 3/8” thick tempered glass and a PQ Labs frame provides 32 points of touch, allowing users to control their content and share it with colleagues by dragging from station to station. Fourteen ultra-directional Holosonics ceiling speakers provide directional audio for each station, which despite their close proximity are incredibly effective. When the table is used in presentation mode EAW ceiling speakers provide sound reinforcement.

The server room provides a backdrop to the table. The room is glass fronted so at the end of the EBC’s open area visitors can see nine Middle Atlantic racks with an impressive array of neatly arranged equipment, both servers for McAfee and the units that drive and power the AV installation. The table and backdrop can be controlled from anywhere within the EBC using a Crestron 8.4” wireless touch panel.

CSL used Priva-lite liquid crystal glass for the server room so when the table is switched to presentation mode the clear glass is transformed to a translucent surface. Four projectiondesign 3,900 lumen projectors fire onto the rear of the Priva-lite surface to create a display wall that is a backdrop to the table. Each projector is fixed with Unicol ceiling mounts has a single DVI source from a server within the equipment room. An NTI KVM switch is housed in the server room to support up to 32 DVI displays, USB keyboards and mice. Clearone digital matrix mixers were also provided within the server room.

Branching off the main area there are two meeting rooms, a War Room and an immersive telepresence room. Frampton explains the War Room is “used as a demonstration facility but also as a live war room facility for McAfee to carry out their analysis of threats within certain key partners around the world”.

It is dominated by an eight-monitor display wall constructed from NEC 46” thin-bezel monitors mounted in a four by two configuration on Unicol brackets. The display is managed by a 16 input, eight output display wall Christie Spyder processor. The video wall processor was configured and programmed to deliver presets to McAfee for use with demonstration content developed by others. Up to four sources can be layered onto each output for background/foreground transitions and PIP effects.

The room houses three stations, each served by two 24” NEC monitors, mounted with Chief desk mounts, and a dedicated PC. Each of the three PCs has two DVI outputs connected to the two station monitors and the same DVI output is routed to the video window processor. Keyboard and mouse functions were extended to the War Room through the NTI KVM switch system. Digital matrix switching is handled by Clearone.

Lighting in the room is used to simulate various levels of attack. The room also has a clear glass wall that looks out into the open area of the EBC. Once again CSL used Prvia-lite liquid crystal glass so the room can be transformed into a private space. Holosonics ceiling speakers are installed in the room as well as two RBH wall speakers. Control for components within the room, including presets and volume, is provided by a Crestron wireless 8.4” touch panel.

An immersive Polycom OTX telepresence suite has also been installed in the EBC in addition to two meeting rooms and a boardroom. McAfee went directly to Polycom for the immersive system. Warner says: “We use Polycom for the telepresence room in Santa Clara. So what we’ve done is we’ve mirrored that room in the Amsterdam EBC. It looks fantastic, you’d never know where you are. You could be in Santa Clara or here but everything looks the same.”

The two meeting rooms accommodate ten and sixteen people and house NEC 82” commercial LCD panels. Mounting solutions were selected from Unicol. Display sources included two VGA/audio and two HDMI inputs at the conference room table. Other display sources include a DVI input for a room computer and Denon Blu-ray player. All display and audio signals run through a Crestron digital media switcher that can be updated in the future if additional sources are added to conference room.

All audio sources can be heard through Holosonics ceiling speakers. The larger room is equipped with Polycom videoconferencing and beyerdynamic table mounted button microphones serve seating positions in each room. Both meeting rooms have a Crestron 8.4” wireless touch panel for control of audiovisual components.

The other side of the entrance lobby, CSL has installed a boardroom that seats 26 people. The set-up is largely similar to that of the two smaller meeting rooms, with beyerdynamic microphones, Polycom videoconferencing and two 82” NEC LCD panels mounted side by side. All meeting rooms utilise Crestron switching and control equipment.

CSL successfully met the seven week timescale and, as a result of their work on the project, are now a preferred supplier for McAfee. The company is providing ongoing support and management for the EBC with an engineer based near the site in Amsterdam.

Warner concluded: “We’ve created a facility that is a great selling tool for customers and partners. It showcases what McAfee as a global business is capable of and what it does. And so far the feedback that we’ve got has been fantastic.”


Beyerdynamic microphones
Clearone digital matrix mixers/4 channel amps
EAW CIS400 ceiling speakers
Holosonics audio spotlight speakers
M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R
RBH wall speakers
Wohler self powered speaker systems

APC power management
Crestron DM cable and connectors, transmitters, expansion cards, processors, RoomView servers, touch panels and docking stations, Ethernet interfaces, switchers
Chief desk mounts
Christie Spyder processor
Denon Blu-ray player
Exterity IPTV: servers and software
Extron cables, fibre, transmitters and receivers, extenders, switching
Middle Atlantic racks, 1RU keyboard mouse/monitor
NEC 24” LCD monitors, display wall calibration software, 46” ultra narrow LCD displays, 52” HD LCD panels, 82” HD LCD panels
NTI switches, USB cables
Projectiondesign F12 SX+ projectors
PQ Labs 93” touch overlay
Polycom VC camera shelf, HD VC systems, VC mobile trolley
Unicol ceiling mounts, Adapta-Wall mount sets, display brackets, tilting mounts, ceiling plates, wall mounts, dual screen wall bracket
Visual Planet 93” and 46” touch overlays