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Feature: Capturing the voice of a nation

Feature: Capturing the voice of a nation

Feature: Capturing the voice of a nation

Distributor and systems integrator Gihroma took a starring role in the creation of renovated and a more modern parliament chamber in Amman. Pro AVL MEA casts a vote

Every company is searching for that high-profile reference project that can prove their capabilities and elevate their business to the next level. Few are as prestigious as helping to create a new seat of power for an entire nation by shaping the development of its parliament building. Such projects are, of course, very rare; however, a recent commission to supply and install conferencing AV equipment into the newly renovated home of the Jordanian parliament in Amman, proved to be one such opportunity.

Televic products have been central to the latest works but they were no stranger to the parliament building. Back in 2008, American company International Roll Call was tasked with installing a TCS5500 system throughout the parliament chambers, settling on the Belgian manufacturer’s API to develop a tailor-made identification and voting solution in Arabic. At the time, this was cutting-edge technology. But, over a decade later, the system was no longer capable of keeping pace with the parliament’s busy schedule and varying needs. Furthermore, the chamber itself was due for a refresh and renovation. It was the perfect opportunity for an upgrade.

Conferening in the chamber has been handled by Televic solutions for more than a decade in total
Conferening in the chamber has been handled by Televic solutions for more than a decade in total

Central to the project from an audiovisual perspective has been Amman-based distributor and systems integrator, Girhoma, which was handed a long list of technical requirements to cater to. Firstly, both the House of Representatives and Senate occupy the same room and the conference capabilities would therefore have to appeal to both, whether used individually or combined.

“The system had to be capable of viewing and selecting the member list imported from a standard file and, based on the calendar, support the organisation and logistics for the convocation of sessions. Furthermore, it had to possess the ability to define, store and share the session agenda along with arguments and related documents, identify a member via RFID and/or fingerprints, and ensure the continuous presence of an inserted card throughout the session. This is in addition to request to speak functionality from any chairman or delegate seat and the ability to manage session activity both from the control room and the chairman’s unit,” recalls Girhoma general manager, Hanna E Zananiri. “Of course, the ability to immediately calculate, display and record voting results at the end of the session was also essential.”

The work for Girhoma was split into two phases. The first stage included the integration of the main dome AV systems – the PA, conference system, translation systems, DSPs, mixers, microphones, LED displays, retractable monitors and control touchpanels. The second phase, planned from the outset, would be to fully link the new conferencing system with additional meeting areas.

Beyond conferencing capability, the overall solution would also need to be able to capture video of the speaker from multiple angles with automatically tracked cameras, as well as transmit the live audio and video signals to external users in the press rooms and balcony.

The two large LED videowalls can diaply IMAG of the chamber as well as voting information
The two large LED videowalls can diaply IMAG of the chamber as well as voting information

Interpretation is vital for such a project, requiring a simultaneous translation system capable of handling up to eight languages, with a headphone and a language selector for each seat. Furthermore, in order to secure the tender, Girhoma had to prove its ability to provide comprehensive training of the installed voting and conference system for the parliament technicians, both at manufacturer facilities and onsite.

To fully understand the space they were working with, Girhoma engineers began by acoustically modelling the main chamber using EASE and, having identified its issues, quickly realised that a clever speaker solution would be required. This came in the form of a Pan Acoustics beam-steering sound system for interior reinforcement based on Pan Beam PB 24 cabinets.

The 10-sided layout of the hall may have aided the creation of multiple cameras angles, but it does not favour sound reinforcement. “It had been proven that a conventional speaker was unable to cover all seats, as their height difference was more than 4m between the lowest and highest seats,” explains Zananiri. “The multi-beam technology of the Pan Beam system solved this by creating three beams directed to the different levels.”

Girhoma's customised uniCOS 10-inch delegate unit
Girhoma's customised uniCOS 10-inch delegate unit

Another challenge was the space’s highly reflective walls, which created confusing sound distribution with long reverberation times. The 2.4m-long PB 24s helped tame these acoustics. “Pan Beam PB 24s made our lives much easier in solving all the difficult acoustical problems we have faced during this project,” adds the general manager.

Laid out in an in-the-round format, the parliament hall is a decahedron. This immediately made the job of filming all delegates and speakers much easier, as PTZ cameras could be placed on every other wall to provide complete 360° coverage. At the heart of the visual system is a Crestron 32x32 DigitalMedia matrix connected to eight Vaddio RoboSHOT 30 HD PTZs – managed by a ProductionVIEW Precision camera control unit – and a pair of Unilumin Uslim Series 5.5m x 3m videowalls, positioned on either side of the Pan Acoustics columns. These are driven by Christie Phoenix videowall processors, while a further six 60-inch displays dispersed around the chamber provide confidence monitoring

Powered by a pair of Televic Plixus MME multimedia engines, the main hall conferencing system encompasses 233 individual delegate positions equally spaced throughout, requiring the deployment of 10 Plixus NE network extenders to increase the number of system ports available and create a redundant system design. Plixus V-In and V-Out input and output boxes inject video content onto the Plixus network through an HDMI connection, while Plixus V-REQ panels allow delegates to request to share content with others over the network. Software flexibility and customisation options, as well as its support team, were the main reason for choosing Televic, says Zananiri.

The chairman and other VIP dignitaries are treated to 18.5-inch Arthur Holm retractable screens
The chairman and other VIP dignitaries are treated to 18.5-inch Arthur Holm retractable screens

Girhoma spared no expense in designing a customised uniCOS 10-inch delegate unit especially for the parliament’s use. These have been installed at the chairman and each delegate position alongside 50cm D-Mic 50 SL Televic gooseneck microphones. Over 240 Televic TEL152 headphones were provided to participants to follow the session. Televic CoCon software manages voting, while CoCon Signage is used to display information to the delegates in the chamber via the videowalls and LED screens. CoCon Authentication manages delegate registration, identification and voting authorisation in tandem with CoCon Voting. A TReX 16-channel audio recorder captures sessions.

Instead of the custom-designed delegate unit, the chairman and other important dignitaries have each been treated to Arthur Holm 18.5-inch retractable multitouch screens with built-in dynamic talk. To further aid listening options, an Ampetronic induction loop has been integrated below four delegate chairs.

When language becomes a barrier, the systems integrator has installed more than 200 Lingua R6 six-channel IR receivers drawing signals from four TEL15 Lingus T transmitters. Interpretation content is delivered from video-enabled Lingua Interpreter Desks situated at the perimeter of the room.

With the House of Representatives’ new system tried and tested, the parliament extended the project to include all ancillary meeting rooms throughout the building. In total, Televic solutions are present in the main hall, VIP meeting room, six additional meeting rooms and auditorium.

“One of the main reasons that they have chosen Televic is the technical possibility to couple the audio from all rooms together; in the future, they will add also video,” says Zananiri. “This allows non parliament members, such as the press, to follow the meeting in the main hall from any onsite meeting room or the auditorium.”

Televic’s Plixus network supports the transport of audio, data and video over a single Cat-5e cable with low latency between the House of Representatives and the additional meetings. The smaller meeting rooms have been integrated with D-Cerno digital discussion units, 82 delegate units in total, while Confidea T-DI solutions – 42 delegate units – offer both conferencing and simultaneous translation. Driven by Powersoft Duecanali 804 amplifiers, Community ENT212 column arrays and D6 ceiling speakers provide in-room reinforcement in the auditorium and meeting rooms, respectively, and facilitate for presentations via Shure SLX24 wireless microphone systems.

“There were many challenges on this project, but the toughest was finishing the first phase within just 45 days,” recalls the Girhoma general manager. “It’s a huge system and it takes a minimum of two or three months to thoroughly check that the programming and communication between all items is working properly. Additional challenges included the integration between conference system, control system and LED screens. I’m proud of the result. It’s an iconic reference project and will, of course, support us greatly in our upcoming business.”

After many months of hard work, the installation has not just produced a top-class reference project, but also spawned new relationships that could potentially outlive the systems installed. Not long after completion, Pan Acoustics partnered with Girhoma for the distribution of its steering products throughout Jordan.

The view looking out from the chairman position
The view looking out from the chairman position

More important than all of this, though, a very important VIP client received a solution meeting all of its detailed requirements. “The House of Representatives is very happy with the work we have completed,” concludes Zananiri. “Our system satisfies their long list of requirements and, even as we hand it over, we will continue to support future training, software and firmware upgrades.”

Little did the government know back at the beginning of 2020 that it would be unable to frequent the parliament building for multiple months; nevertheless, the system allows them the flexibility to expand outside the chamber’s 10 walls.

This article appears in the September - October edition of Pro AVL MEA. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/mea



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