Meeting demands

Installer FotoPhono has completed a refit of the meeting and presentation suites in the newly outfitted Norwegian embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

Following a tender process, FotoPhono, under the leadership of project manager Frode Austigard, were hired to design and install new AV systems for the Norwegian embassy. The project was to generally improve the level of technology and facilities within the embassy building in Brussels, which also houses the Norwegian mission to the European Union.

The project management and procurement process was somewhat complex. Essentially all of Norway’s overseas real estate is facilities managed by a state owned organisation called Statsbygg (lit. state buildings). This body operated the tender and acted as the client in a process, which Norwegian integration specialists FotoPhono won.

The requirements were laid out initially by Statsbygg, and FotoPhono responded with a detailed system design and equipment specification. Statsbygg are notoriously strict on such processes so it was important the bid was prepared extremely carefully.

ICT Manager Audun Lillerud was responsible for overseeing the project for the embassy and running it now everyone has moved back into the building from the temporary accommodation, which they occupied during the refit.

He explained the embassy’s needs. “Obviously the embassy hosts a huge number of meetings and presentations. We wanted to improve what was available to embassy staff and their guests as part of a general refit of the building. We therefore asked for easy to use facilities of two general types.

“The smaller rooms hold five or six people. These are equipped with a 50” plasma display and then attachments on the tables for laptops or DVD players so we can do power point and that kind of thing. There’s also a conference telephone on the desk. It’s a very simple installation.”

There are six of these rooms throughout the building’s ten floors.

FotoPhono specified wall-mounted 50” Panasonic TH-50PH10EK plasma displays for each, simply using the units’ built in loudspeakers for some basic programme sound. Extron Cable Cubbies were installed in the tables, and these allow delegates to switch their laptops through the plasma displays. The other source option is a Sony DVD recorder.

“The second, larger room type caters for up to 16 participants,” continued Lillerud. “It’s more of a boardroom-sized space. This one is equipped with a projection system, advanced AV control and a better sound system.”

Epson 1825 XGA projectors were specified in this case. FotoPhono selected them on the basis of a brightness / price point trade off, as well as because of their excellent sonic performance – they only produce about 32dB of noise.

They are ceiling mounted and project onto a 2.4m electronic projection screen. In a sub-class of this room, a smaller 1.8m screen is employed.

Video scaling and switching is performed by an Extron SW6 VGA switcher.

Programme sound is provided by wall mounted monitor speakers from RCF, and driven by an RCP UP-series amplifier. The audio from the various sources is mixed through an Ashly Audio 24.24M matrix processor.

Sources include Sennheiser wireless handheld and head-worn microphones, and a Sony DVD player. As with the smaller rooms, table fitted Extron Cable Cubbies provide audio and video input points for auxiliary inputs as well as AC power for laptops etc.

These larger rooms are also fitted with Wolfvision XGA+ document camera.

In the board rooms, FotoPhono also installed an overall AV control solution from Crestron. The room are equipped with a CP2 controller and TPS-1700 17” touch panel for source switching and volume control.

It was really important to the embassy that the user interfaces are as simple as possible so that they are easily accessible by non-technical staff with support from technicians. There are also a lot of people who use the meeting rooms on an in frequent basis so they must be able to pick up things quickly to conduct their business with ease.

Rune Bjastad, marketing manager for the Embassy said: “FotoPhono have done an excellent job on the user interface design, catering for our range of users. They are clearly laid out and easy to use.”

Overall the whole refit project has taken about 18 months, but FotoPhono were able to begin and end their installation within a tight two-week window. And embassy staff were able to Move in at the end of January.

Audun Lillerud commented: “The installer worked incredibly hard to meet our demanding installation schedule. They were also very responsive during the installation process any time we had a query or a problem. I’m very pleased with the outcome.”

Project manager Frode Austigard concluded: “Our installation window was very tight due to the construction schedule. We did first fix in December for five days, pulling cables, and then came back at the start of January for the second fix.

“There were no real technical challenges with the installation, the main issues were logistical in terms of shipping equipment from Norway. We also had a few communication issues with the Belgian building contractors. I’m not sure they were so used to working with audiovisual equipment and there were some differences in working practices and standards that made things difficult at times. Overall however I’m really pleased with the way things turned out.”

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