Case Studies

Conference system for council

by Mark Rowe

In Hampshire, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has 60 elected members who discuss local politics, municipal budgets and taxes at regular meetings. For full transparency with the members of their constituency, the council streams live video of all its meetings, including public votes, on their YouTube channel.

The borough decided to upgrade their conference system. After discussing their requirements with Andover-based system integrator VP Bastion, a fully IP-based DICENTIS conference system from Bosch was installed. The product offers integration of live voting, built-in automatic camera control and direct streaming with speaker-name indication. Council members wanted the freedom to sit anywhere in the chamber during sessions – while still being automatically identifiable on camera – and the installation needed to accommodate for the limited desk space and cabling voids.

The system includes 63 DICENTIS Discussion devices with touchscreens (to support the required voting and identification for council members), nine DICENTIS discussion-only devices for guest speakers, and automatic camera control software. All the discussion devices are mounted on raised brackets to maximise desk space and come with high directive microphones.

Council members have the freedom to sit at any seat in the meeting room, as the system automatically registers their presence at a specific location thanks to the NFC (Near Field Communication) card registration on the discussion devices. When a speaker activates a microphone, the system’s automatic camera control points the camera towards their location, zooming in and displaying their image on the big screen.

DICENTIS’ works with third-party software. Two companies – Arbor Media, which offers conference recording and streaming services, and MVI Engineering, a conference software firm – worked together to create a webcasting and conference control software package that was integrated with DICENTIS. This solution helped to meet the borough council’s requirements, including report generation via live image feed and identification by name and party affiliation on the council’s YouTube channel. Besides displaying the DICENTIS-enabled voting results on the council chamber’s big screen, it is now possible to share the voting results on the YouTube Live feed.

Since the installation, the new DICENTIS system has supported a seamless and transparent democratic process at Basingstoke and Deane. Iain Steel, Director of VP Bastion says: “Having a fully integrated conference system with audio-video feeds from meetings automatically streamed to the council’s YouTube channel was a must.”

Behind the scenes, via the third-party MVI Engineering application, the system automatically upgrades to the latest software versions. These centralised updates save time and operating costs. Bosch supplies around half of councils in the UK and Ireland.

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