Balancing modern AV technology with preservation orders
Conferencing in historic parliament chambers
As national and regional parliaments and institutions are embracing modern conferencing technology to improve the flexibility and efficiency of their meetings and sessions, switching to an up-to-date system with today’s most advanced possibilities is not always that easy to do. Or is it?
The fact that a lot of parliaments hold their meetings in historic buildings or parliament chambers with stringent preservation orders, is often stated as a reason not to install an adequate audiovisual conferencing solution. The truth is, that today’s conferencing solutions are flexible enough to adapt to even the most challenging environment. In other words: the need to preserve a historic parliament chamber should never prevent you from using the most optimal conferencing system. We give you 5 things to consider.
1. Mounting of AV components
It’s a common misconception that audiovisual components for a conferencing system in a parliament chamber need to be wall- or ceiling-mounted to obtain an adequate set-up. In fact, especially in historic buildings, this will not be the preferred solution. Delicate plasterwork, strict preservation orders, protected architecture or numerous other reasons stand in the way of using drill holes or adhesive mounting materials to attach speakers, routers, access points, … to walls or ceilings.
The good news is today’s conferencing solutions can be fully customized to fit in any environment. The set-up can be made flexible and removable to the extent that it can be quickly removed as it were never in the room. It can be assembled and mounted without impacting the structural elements of the building. Made-to-measure audiovisual conferencing units can even be integrated into the furniture (e.g., into the armrests of the chairs).
For aesthetic or structural reasons, wiring may be a hurdle to overcome when installing conferencing equipment in historic parliament chambers. Power supply, ethernet cables, … don’t always have their place in listed or historically valuable buildings.
If this is the case, the option to install a fully wireless conferencing system seems to be the obvious choice. The most recent and advanced wireless conferencing systems offer you the best options in terms of flexibility and security, and are 100% compatible with the newest possibilities to host hybrid parliament meetings.
It is a given that historic buildings very often present specific challenges in terms of acoustics. Complex architectural structures, ceiling domes, or wood paneling can prevent sound from efficiently travelling through the room. Additionally, preservation orders sometimes limit the possibilities to install speakers in the optimal locations.
For parliament meetings in historic buildings, this situation requires specialized advice to ensure the audibility of the debate to all delegates and to the audience. This is why, before considering to install or upgrade a conferencing system in a historic parliament chamber, it is always a good idea to contact a specialized partner in advance.
4. Lighting and cameras
In meetings with multiple participants such as a national or regional parliament, it is often hard to follow who is talking. Especially for remote participants or live stream viewers. Therefore, no modern council room conferencing system can do without a compatible camera tracking solution.
In historic parliament chambers, on top of the mounting and wiring limitations mentioned above, there may be some additional issues. Suboptimal light, combined with restrictions to install extra lighting equipment, can stand in the way of obtaining high-quality images. And specific restrictions may prescribe that certain objects or artwork cannot be filmed.
All of the above taken into consideration, integrating video solutions for parliament meetings in historic chambers requires a smart and up-to-date of camera system. These systems use set-ups with customizable shots and angles (e.g., less wide shots, more shots per seat or speaker, …) to flexibly adapt to the situation at hand. And with easy and automatic camera control, they enable a better involvement for meetings participants and viewers alike, even in the most challenging environments.
5. Signal reception
Very similar to sound waves, audio and Wi-Fi signals can suffer from suboptimal conditions in historic buildings. Wood paneling on the walls and bad R/F quality are only some of the issues that can present itself depending on the architectural specifics of the building.
Luckily, today’s most experienced providers of wireless conference solutions have come up with best-in-class wireless conference systems that effectively deal with reception challenges thanks to cleverly conceived and optimally positioned aerials.
Based on standard Wi-Fi5 technology, the most advanced systems use a combination of techniques to improve the quality and reliability of the signal reception. The solutions function flawlessly, even in an architecturally challenging historic meeting environment.
With built-in clean channel management and DFS scanning support, today’s wireless systems can identify the clearest channel, including the upper channels of the 5 GHz range that are typically underserved. Predictive algorithms and channel switching mechanisms prevent interference and repair distorted signals.
Intelligent antenna design with spatial diversity and MIMO techniques offers a guaranteed RF coverage and signal reception ensuring reliable and uninterrupted communication even in RF challenging spaces.
The combination of all these technologies result in innovative wireless conference solutions that feels at home in any meeting environment.
Some recent examples of custom conferencing solutions in historic parliament chambers are the Swiss federal parliament in Bern, and the renovated committee room 13 of the Austrian parliament in Vienna.