Global standards at the UN's WIPO

When it comes to meeting on the world stage, nothing but the best will do. Reece Webb takes a trip to the World Intellectual Property Organization to see how standardisation is enabling a new way of working.

Nestled at the heart of the United Nations’ operations in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a UN agency that offers a global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation on a global scale between UN members.

With a long history stretching back to 1967, WIPO has experienced a wave of growth, expanding to become a complex that consists of multiple buildings, including the iconic Arpad Bogsch building and its unmissable, 13-storey glass tower.

This impressive venue plays host to delegations from the most influential nations on Earth, hosting up to 150 days of conferences across the complex’s buildings. Diplomats and delegates from UN member states gather here to discuss intellectual property policy both in large, open forum conferences and in behind-the-scenes negotiations in more intimate meeting spaces.

As a UN agency at the forefront of international diplomacy, WIPO invests in new systems to enhance the work of the organisation. This project went to a public tender; technical specifications were drawn up by the client and a consultant while AV integrator Projection Nouvelle was retained to implement the project.

Gianni Leone de Magistris, head of audio and video support unit, WIPO, explains: “Our older version of a Televic conferencing system had reached the end of its life cycle so an upgrade was needed. We were pleased with Televic and opted to use Televic’s Plixus system. Some of the small meeting rooms were already upgraded with Plixus and we wanted to extend this to the large conference rooms.

“One of the elements of the project was to enable the interconnection of the rooms, bringing them together in a common network secured by VLANS. We had a double objective - first to allow ‘coupling’ of rooms, active coupling with the capacity to bring in more delegates in different rooms and second, to enable coupling for interpretation. We were looking for an integrator who had the capacity to propose solutions and suggest an original approach. We were satisfied with the novel proposals suggested by Projection Nouvelle. The capacity of the integrator to understand our requirements and become part of the design process was quite important for WIPO.”

This project presented Projection Nouvelle with a complex challenge: The facility’s large conference halls and smaller meeting spaces required upgrades to some systems, while also integrating existing technologies into a new framework and control system.

A key requirement for WIPO was to offer ‘couplings’ of different rooms, linking the audio and video signals together as well as linking the rooms’ interpretation systems together to offer new levels of flexibility for rooms that require observers or overspill capacity.

Interpretation has always been at the core of WIPO’s operation in Geneva, and this technological overhaul required an interpretation system that would not only meet WIPO’s key interpretation requirements but also integrate into the wider control network for interpretation between multiple rooms engaging in one, unified discussion.

Meet in style 

The WIPO complex is home to two mesmerising conference halls, representing the traditions of WIPO with Conference Room A, a listed building dating back to the 1970s, and a sleek, modern conference room that is used for international conferences and other events.

Despite their difference in age and appearance, both spaces are outfitted with brand-new Televic Plixus conferencing units and a Lingua TX language distribution system. This conferencing setup is standardised in every meeting space across the complex, whether big or small, to provide that same level of familiarity and user-friendliness no matter where a delegate finds themselves in the building.

“Discussions are interpreted to and from six languages: French, English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Russian”, says de Magistris. “For conference rooms, we needed to be able to address that with an interpretation system and WIPO chose Televic Plixus. On top of the Televic Plixus, which is the base of the audio-conferencing system, control is handled by AMX.

“AMX was proposed by Projection Nouvelle. During the evaluation process, Projection Nouvelle suggested moving to AMX. The capacity of this product [convinced] WIPO, and it was an opportunity at this point which turned out to be a good choice down the line.”

The AMX system was installed in each meeting space around the WIPO facility, transitioning the facility to IP transport of signals using the AMX system. De Magistris adds: “The AMX system also controls all of the equipment, dispatching the commands, getting feedback and statuses etc. We control almost everything via touchpanels which have pages customised to our needs and operation.”

Projection Nouvelle provided an NX-1200 AV control system with MT-1002 tabletop touchpanels for the user interface in the interpretation booths, control room and in smaller meeting spaces, with support from NMX-ENC-N2412A encoders and NMX-DEC-N2424A decoders.

“The move to AMX was seamless,” explains de Magistris. “It was an opportunity for us to completely redesign the interface that had existed since 2014, bringing in new functionalities that were not present in our previous programming. The potential [for this system] was exploited by the integrator and their capacity to properly program and design the pages accordingly.”

WIPO’s large conference hall brings an unprecedented wow factor: Stepping in for the very first time, delegates and visitors are greeted by a vast, wooden[1]panelled space, dominated by a huge projection screen, supported by Panasonic PT-VW-430 20K projectors suspended from the ceiling with a 12K projector as a backup. Gigantic architectural ‘balls’ of light bring lavish lighting while discreetly disguising Panasonic PTZ cameras with JBL and Meyer Sound loudspeakers discreetly hidden in the centre of the lighting balls and around the space.

The pre-existing equipment has also been integrated into the AMX control system, with Projection Nouvelle taking an innovative approach to enable control of the projectors, displays and audio equipment.

Alexandre Rouvelet, technical director, Projection Nouvelle, explains: “We program everything in-house and we were able to easily adapt to the existing installation. In some places, we have created our own AMX driver to be able to control the devices already in place.”

This conference hall is supported by a central control room and eight interpretation booths for interpretation into every official UN language. The booths are built to ISO standard, offering three positions for interpreters. Each interpreter is equipped with Televic interpretation consoles, using Samsung monitors for control of the room’s lighting. The control room sits at the nerve centre of the operation, housing a Tricaster TC2 Elite mixer to enable a TV/broadcast approach for when WIPO wants to run live, multi-camera programs. An AMX control panel is present in the room that drives all of the equipment, both new and pre-existing from an earlier installation. From the control room, operators can open and close microphones based on the seating plan in the conference hall.

De Magistris says: “We can visualise where people are sitting on a synoptic. We can see all floor requests and if somebody takes a request for the floor, we will see where that person is sitting. We can also remote control each camera through a Panasonic remote control and we can do the switching. We usually use automatic mode, where opening the microphone will drive the appropriate camera and switch as a cut. We can always fine tune the camera position or manually carry out the switch by turning the AMX into semi-automatic mode. With the Tricaster, we also have access to visual effects, lower thirds, multi-view and so on.”

The control room is also home to an Extron MediaPort 200 HDMI to USB bridge which is used to support WIPO’s Zoom functionality.

Secure and standardised 

Outside of these public meeting spaces, some negotiations at WIPO take place behind closed doors, requiring a more intimate technology offering that still provides a familiar, standardised user experience no matter where delegates are working.

WIPO offers numerous meeting rooms across the complex, featuring the same Televic conferencing units featured in Conference Room A and the modern conference hall, making user-friendliness a top priority.

These spaces offer three interpretation booths in an identical setup to the main conference hall’s booths, featuring a Panasonic camera in the centre of the table to capture the participants clearly. Panasonic projectors provide a live feed of ongoing proceedings, while Sony displays can be used to show presentation content or host remote participants when needed.

Using the AMX control system, each of these rooms can be coupled together to scale up to the needs of the user, be it for overspill or observers.

“If we need six languages, we can use the interpretation booths of both rooms [to interpret in one room] or if we need extra room for delegates, we can couple two rooms together. Whoever speaks goes live and the programme is displayed in both rooms” says de Magistris.

Coupling of these rooms is made simple through the AMX touchpanel. Operators need only to select the appropriate mode based on the customer's needs, offering the ability to merge the two rooms together or to enable passive coupling where one room is master and the other listens in passively.

Crossing the gap 

For an organisation that hosts high-level conferences, challenges on the installation side were inevitable. Playing host to up to 150 conferences a year, technology had to be installed during quieter periods at WIPO to avoid the loss of much-needed meeting rooms and conference spaces. Combined with product shortages during the project, Projection Nouvelle provided an innovative stop-gap solution to allow the system to operate as intended while work was ongoing.

Following supply chain delays, Projection Nouvelle was brought on board in December 2021, with work beginning in January 2022. In the first five months, conference room A and several smaller rooms were completed, with the last large conference hall finishing in the winter of 2022. The project lasted two years, with Projection Nouvelle taking on the support and maintenance contract as part of the tender package, keeping a member of staff attached on site for day-to-day operations, working with WIPO’s on-site AV team.

Today, WIPO is equipped with a secure and standardised system that offers scalability and a user-friendly experience to make high-priority meetings and conferences easy for delegates and more accessible for remote observers who wish to watch proceedings.

Rouvelet closes: “The user can perform pairings with a single button by choosing in the master room which slave room he wants to use. This is quite complex programming work when you couple 1,000- seat rooms with other rooms. SVI video signals and audio signals are transmitted bidirectionally when coupled.

The Televic interpretation system is also coupled thanks to VLAN changes in the Cisco switches that we pilot with the AMX. The screens and projectors of the two rooms are also controlled at the same time.

“The operator on the Televic system can control the “master” room and the “slave” room as if it were just one room. Speaking, and translation (choice of interpreted language) work in the two rooms as if it were just one room. And all this with just one button. We are very proud to have brought simplicity to the user despite all the technical complexity behind it.”

Kit list

AJA FIDO-2T dual channel SDI to optical fibre

AMX NX-1200 AV control system, MT-1002 tabletop touchpanels, NMX-ENC-N2412A encoders, NMX-DEC[1]N2424A decoders

Blackmagic Design CONVBDC/SDI/ HDMI micro converters, CONVMSDIDA4K SDI distributors

Biamp Tesira Forté DAN CI processors

Extron MediaPort 200 HDMI to USB bridge

Netio PDU 8QS power distribution rack

Panasonic AW-HE120 PTZ cameras, AW-RP50 camera control system, AV-HS410 live video switcher

Presonus ERS E4.5 studio monitors

Sonifex AVN-DIO10 Dante interface

Sony FWD[1]55X80H displays

Symetrix XOut12 Dante interface

Televic Plixus MME multimedia system, Lingua TX language distribution system, Plixus Next network extender, Plixus PS power supply

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