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July/ August 2010 Conference+ Meetings World www. c- mw. net7 TECHNOLOGY V enues face the eternal problem of knowing when to invest in in- house technology and when to let outside suppliers make the running in terms of offering clients the latest ( and often expensive) cutting edge products. Edinburgh International Conference Centre ( EICC) does a lot of business around the Edinburgh International Festival, so investing in £ 150,000 of modular aluminium staging equipment seemed logical. EICC believes the investment is offset against the high cost of one- time use stage carpentry. Moreover, performance or display space can now be set up in a fraction of the conventional build- time. A new HD camera system means the EICC can now claim the highest specification in- house video projection capability of any UK congress venue. Head of technical production, Kenneth Boak, says: " Every investment in new kit is significant, but unless you realise a return for customers counted in terms of successful and sustainable events, then you are missing the point. Great staging and rich images in HD will pay back quickly for our clients." Also in Scotland, The Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre is pioneering a new teaching and conferencing system. The Beardmore specialises in medical Wired for value? 1- 2, 1- 2, CMWtests the technology being installed at a selection of venues worldwide. High bandwith fibre optic connection at The Beardmore in Scotland also fell because an increasing number of executives owned corporate Next G wireless network cards." Next- generation 802.11n wireless LAN technology brought immediate advantages, boosting throughput speeds. The wireless network means delegates can access their emails and the web anywhere at the convention centre quickly and at reasonable cost. " We are not tied to whatever bandwidth a provider chooses to give us and at whatever exorbitant fee they want to charge," says Wright. " Being able to extend our broadband offering to include wireless is hugely beneficial to large conferences where organisers prefer to set up their own V-LANs," he adds. Wireless can also power other venue services and Wright is also looking to equip waiting staff with PDAs so they can take orders from the floor, relaying direct to the kitchen. Maintenance staff will be armed with tablet PCs and be able to remotely control infrastructure on the network, such as air con and lighting. Ottawa Convention Centre expects its invisible technology to earn it clients when it opens its doors for business in April 2011. Centre president Pat Kelly anticipates a new revenue source that includes facilities for multimedia presentations and communications. The network will be run by a single data centre for voice, video and data that will also control lighting, heating and security. Kelly says the technology will also be able to involve other participants to conferences not able to attend in person. All the above venues have harnessed technology to the bottom line, so important in today's ROI- oriented organiser thinking. conferences and can broadcast directly to its auditorium from the cardiac catheterisation laboratories at the adjoining hospital. Professor Masahiko Ochiai, from Showa University in Japan, used the equipment to demonstrate a new method of opening blocked heart arteries. The high bandwidth fibre- optic connection and live two- way audio enabled the remote audience to see the same high resolution imaging as those working in the lab. The system will now be rolled out for event organisers to use. Down Under, Australia's Gold Coast Convention Centre recently installed next- generation Cisco wireless LAN technology, which technology services manager Nathan Wright says can be used to track people in the centre with pinpoint accuracy. The centre had initially used a Telstra Hotspot for wireless connectivity, as well as a cable service to provide visitors with high- speed internet. There was growing demand to provide delegates with a cheaper, quality wireless alternative. " When we did a deal with Telstra to set up its first Hotspot, public Wi- Fi was relatively new," says Wright. " Telstra Hotspot struggled to cope with large numbers of users at once. It became too slow and wasn't cheap. Use of the service Spending on technology can put you a leap ahead and it can deliver improved ROI

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