Expanded learning at the Canadian University Dubai

When it comes to maintaining modern learning environment, one of Dubai’s most successful universities invests in forward looking solutions. Reece Webb reports.

The Canadian University Dubai (CUD) is a private university outfitted with a brand-new campus located at the very heart of Dubai. The university is a blend of two worlds – offering a Canadian standard education as well as a fast-paced, pioneering Dubai lifestyle.

As a leading private university in Dubai, a lavish new campus requires a stand-out technology solution to meet its prestigious reputation. To achieve this goal, the University turned to Integral Polymedia Systems to carry out the turnkey delivery in all of its aspects for the university’s new City Walk Campus.

This was no small feat; Integral Polymedia Systems was tasked with outfitting not one, but two campuses – the Faculty of Management (FoM) campus and the HUB Zero campus. This would cover everything from hybrid learning and voice amplification, to a comprehensive digital signage system and even an LED media facade. This project would go on to win the education category at the 2024 Inavation Awards.

Dr. Elena Novikova, president, Polymedia, commented: “Our engineering team developed the solution for hybrid classrooms at Canadian University Dubai based on our extensive experience of work with the education sector”.

“We knew that it is essential in hybrid learning solutions for the students to be able to hear and see the lecturer, as well as communicate, regardless of whether they attend the class online or offline. With these principles in mind, we selected the best technology solutions for sound, video, and control systems. This effort was appreciated by the client, and this engineering-driven approach was one of the reasons the university continued to work with our team on other campuses.”

The scale of this project cannot be overstated, with 23 classrooms to equip at the Faculty of Management (FoM) campus, 42 classrooms at HUB Zero, an LED media façade, LED video wall as well as boardroom setups, an atrium and much more. The initial proof of concept (and corresponding RFQ) was only for one auditorium-style classroom, but it was only the starting point. The initial phase of the project focused on establishing hybrid learning and voice amplification functionalities in the university classrooms. However, based on Polymedia’s proof of concept, CUD furthered its scope by adding the integration solutions such as video conferencing, classroom monitoring systems, lighting control and automation, call/assistance systems, and digital signage across two campuses.

The priority on this project was to launch the Faculty of Management (FoM) classes, which is located on a separate campus at City Walk, Dubai. The Polymedia team started with the design of AV systems for four hybrid auditoriums, 19 standard classrooms and common areas.

Starting in the hybrid auditoriums, Polymedia supplied Shure ceiling acoustic systems and microphones offering lecturers the opportunity to present in a hybrid format with the greatest of intelligibility. The Shure microphone arrays enable consistent sound throughout the room, using a VoiceLift system deployed on Shure’s Intellimix software sound processing platform which captures and reproduces sound from across the space. The VoiceLift system had to overcome difficult room acoustics, with a reverberation time of 1.58 seconds in a room of 528 m3, creating a noticeable delay.

Polymedia worked closely with Shure’s technical teams to build 100% accurate acoustic models of all of the rooms, generating precise settings for the sound systems. Shure Steerable Coverage technology enabled the Polymedia team to position audio capture beams accurately throughout the space for each separate student, while also avoiding unwanted and reflected noise.

All classrooms are outfitted with Shure MXN5 loudspeakers and MXA910 microphone arrays, with sound processing handled via Shure Intellimix DSP. Additionally, each classroom is outfitted with Liberty PTZ10 cameras for videoconferencing as well as Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 5900 projectors to show students digital materials and video from the video conferencing system.

A comprehensive equipment control environment was created by a Crestron control system, integrated in all 23 classrooms which helps to operate AV and lighting systems in each room. Lecturers can control the projectors, lights or call for a technician with the touch of a button on the Crestron touchpanel, sending a notification through the university’s help desk system to the IT team, specifying the room number for the request.

Light control systems in the auditoriums can be operated via a wall-mounted Crestron touchpanel or via conventional wall switches. In the common areas, light can also be switched with wall-mounted touchpanels or from a centralised AV control room.

The university uses a unified, single system for centralised monitoring and control of multimedia systems in the auditoriums, using Crestron Fusion to tie the campus-wide system together. Shure’s SystemOn audio asset management software enables deep monitoring, proactive maintenance, remote control of audio systems as well as remote support of events held in the auditoriums.

Additionally, all systems had to be integrated with existing infrastructure, public address systems and fire alarm.

Effective communication 

The second stage of the installation covered the president’s boardroom, as well as digital signage across the entire campus.

The boardroom is equipped with a videoconferencing system empowered by a BYOM design and integrated control system. In this space, Polymedia supplied Barco’s ClickShare CX-50 with an Aver CAM520 Pro2 camera, alongside a Bose MSA12 sound system and Shure conference system for Zoom and Teams videoconference sessions in the boardroom. A Crestron integrated control system is installed to simplify the user experience, creating a user-friendly operation from the chairman’s seat.

The entire FOM campus features a range of LCD screens and LED tickers, as well as an LED circle-shaped welcome screen and a media façade. All public visualisation systems are integrated into one, unified digital signage system, managed by the Hypersign software platform.

Zero compromises 

With the FOM campus complete, Polymedia turned its attention towards the multimedia solutions for the brand-new HUB ZERO campus.

This new facility features 42 classrooms and laboratories, outfitted with videoconferencing and presentation systems. This includes a main visualisation system built on Digital Projection E-Vision projectors with Samsung UHD 4K displays which were required for improved content delivery to support the back seat rows of the classrooms.

Liberty PTZ cameras provide full classroom views for videoconferencing sessions, with Dante-based Shure MXN5 ceiling loudspeakers and Shure MXA910 ceiling microphones for use during hybrid format and locally run classes, as well as flexible configuration features to reduce the use of cabling.

A Crestron integrated control system includes an individually designed graphic user interface, enabling control of the AV systems and troubleshooting from the in-room touchpanel.

The campus features a high ceiling height, which proved to be challenging for discreetly concealing cabling behind the projectors and cameras. To overcome this, Polymedia commissioned equipment mounts and covers which were individually designed and fabricated in local UAE factories, keeping sustainable principles of work in the forefront.

Another boardroom space follows a similar format to the FOM campus’ boardroom, including a Barco ClickShare CX-50, Aver CAM520 Pro2 camera, Bose MSA12X speakers and Shure MXA910 ceiling array microphones.

CUD also created an exhibition space near the campus’ main entrance, with Polymedia supplying an AKG microphone and JBL mobile loudspeaker sound system to support events in the space. This flexible approach extends to the campus’ multipurpose conference facilities, which are equipped with 4x2.25m LED screens and Bose Panarray sound systems.

The campus’ offices were also equipped with an interactive collaboration system based on FlipBox 4K UltraHD interactive displays with integrated Zoom and Microsoft Teams clients.

Stepping outside, an LED media façade, created from custom P8 LED display was also integrated into CUD’s digital signage infrastructure, which is run by the Hypersign software platform, amplifying the university’s business communications across all digital signage assets.

A project of this scope and scale was not without its challenges, working in a pre-existing structure while also navigating supply chain issues. Walls and ceilings within the facilities already featured mechanical, electrical and technical infrastructure, requiring the Polymedia team to adapt flexibly to fit out the existing structures and space. Logistically, Polymedia’s vendors of choice and their corresponding distributors, along with the company’s long-standing reseller partners in the AV industry helped to get the equipment on-site in time for each project milestone despite any arising supply chain challenges.

From the technical implementation standpoint, Polymedia project team members essentially had to become residents on site and work using a dynamic engineering method, to incorporate equipment such as legacy monitoring cameras, light fixtures, and non-standard room dimensions. The most critical and impactful challenge was the non-standard classroom heights, which impacted the design of the voice amplification system. Polymedia’s team identified this as a challenge right on day one and chose to deliver the proof of concept in the classroom with the highest ceiling.

Novikova continues: “The fact that Polymedia contributed to ensure that ‘learning never stops’, is a win for us. But moreover, from the project development perspective, starting with just one classroom in proof of concept and completing the project with over 60 classrooms, highlights the strength of our team, particularly in solution design, engineering, and client engagement.“

Today, Polymedia remains on site to provide system maintenance and support, while also undertaking an ongoing process of modernisation and improvement.

Kit list

Audio

AKG WMS470D5 vocal kits, WMS470 Presenter Kitsportable loudspeakers

Bose MSA12X array loudspeakers, Panarray sound system

JBL IRX108BT EK/ JBL EON1ProUK portable loudspeakers

Shure Intellimix software sound processing platform, MX95 loudspeakers, MXA910 microphone arrays, SystemON audio asset management software

Video

Aver CAM520 Pro2 cameras

Barco Clickshare CX-50

Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 5900 series projectors

FlipBox 4K UltraHD interactive displays

Liberty PTZ10 PTZ cameras

Samsung AU7000 Series UHD 4K smart displays

Control

Crestron FUSION monitoring software, XPanel control system

Hypersign signage software platform


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