COVID drives urgent MS Teams upgrade for James Cook Hospital

Challenge

When the coronavirus outbreak enforced new restrictions that dramatically challenged their way of working, James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough needed an upgrade in their Academic Centre to facilitate virtual meetings. As their long-standing technology partner, Visavvi were the natural choice to provide the right solution to enable remote meetings and learning activities that are as equally productive as they would be physically.

When Visavvi installed a new AV system into the James Cook Hospital at the beginning of 2020, no one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and how it would completely change the way we work. The demand for collaboration technology soared – and the client required a complete upgrade of their system to ensure they can operate efficiently.

  • No one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and how it would completely change the way we work

Solution

Reaping the benefits from their existing system, the client came to us to upgrade their facilities to enable Microsoft Teams for remote video calls – along with a large videowall for displaying and sharing content across the building.

However, the large spaces throughout the building caused acoustic problems - and picking up all the voices in the room proved to be a challenge. Visavvi Account Manager John Andrews said, “I advised on the Sennheiser Team Connect 2 solution – which is installed into the ceilings with multiple microphone arrays around it, intelligently seeking out whoever speaks in the room and projecting their voice.” These highly intelligent microphones ensure that only active microphones are live at any one time, thereby removing unwanted background noise which increases audience engagement and focus, through improved intelligibility.

Intelligent Sennheiser Team Connect 2 mics and multiple acoustic conditioning panels resolved acoustics issues throughout the spaces.

To complement the microphones, we installed three Aver CAM 540 auto- framing cameras. With 4k ultra high definition and intelligent SmartFrame technology, the cameras automatically seek out active speakers, allowing meeting participants to concentrate on hands free meetings. “This provides a completely seamless virtual meeting experience for the users”, explained John “Users don’t need to control who the camera points to or constantly adjust its position to frame new speakers. Upgrading the existing environments to provide Microsoft Teams video calling capabilities has substantially increased the facilities functionality and provided new levels of agility to ensure the vital activities of this NHS trust continue.”

Additionally, to further improve acoustic quality for local and remote participants, Visavvi installed a range of acoustic conditioning panels. These wall and ceiling mounted panels remove echo and reverberation from the room to further enhance acoustic clarity.

Video conferencing facilities including auto-framing cameras and repeater screens allow speakers to be seen and heard across both physical and virtual environments.

As you would imagine, the sharing of important information within an NHS trust is crucial - and Visavvi provided a 4 x 55’’ screen videowall mounted within a custom display enclosure. This impressive display enables room utilisation status to be displayed, helping wayfinding and social distancing. Displayed content is sent via the internal network and displayed locally on the screen, using Signage Live Cloud System. A single NUC PC attached to the video wall running the Signage Live app allows the end user to send content to the screens remotely.

Large videowall provides wayfinding whilst displaying crucial information.

Results

After just one week of usage, the client has been delighted with the new environments, which have significantly improved their new way of working whilst providing additional capabilities. As a long-term AV service and maintenance client, James Cook has access to our dedicated support helpdesk, equipment loan, and an onsite engineer, providing them with complete reassurance and support when they need it.

John Pulling, Technical and Facilities Manager at James Cook Hospital “As the pandemic was about to unfold, we realised we needed to act swiftly in order to deliver much needed training on COVID-19 both internally to hospital staff and regionally with our partner organisations. With the challenge of social distancing, providing vital training to our teams was going to be even harder to achieve than ever before.

We looked at our main lecture theatres and boardroom and realised whilst we could deliver things virtually, the experience for those attending in the virtual environment was worlds apart from the physical environment so we tasked Visavvi with bridging that gap for us.

  • We can confidently hold important board meetings, debates and teaching sessions whilst maintaining social distancing in the room with colleagues joining us from all over the world.

They designed and delivered a fantastic solution which has worked in all 3 areas and now means that users can confidently hold important board meetings, debates and teaching sessions on hot topics at the flick of a switch whilst maintaining social distancing in the room with colleagues joining us from all over the world. They seamlessly integrated the new solutions into the existing environments to ensure previous technology investments were maximised and that the rooms could be operational in a very short space of time.”

The application of multiple displays combined with the latest video conferencing facilities allow socially distanced meetings to take place in every environment.

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