Since the late 19th century, Sheffield Council Chamber has been a centre for local policy and decision making. Sheffield Council pride themselves on providing an efficient and transparent service to the public that they serve. So when they decided to update their Council Chamber audio, broadcasting and voting system they asked us, at TecInteractive to help.
Sheffield Council Chamber is part of Sheffield Town Hall, a historic building first opened by Queen Victoria in 1897. Even then the building embraced technology, with the Queen using one of the very first ‘remote controls’ in her carriage to remotely open a door at the ceremony.
Today, its primary function is still council meetings, but the ornate, wood panelled room is used for other types of meeting as well. This posed challenges with the existing wired audio set-up which took hours to take down and re-install again when council meetings weren’t taking place.
The audio, when it was in place, required a lot of maintenance, and the sound quality often made it difficult for people to hear what was being said.
Voting in council meetings was still conducted in the same way it was in Queen Victoria’s time – with a show of hands. In a large room such as this, the process was tedious and inefficient. And transparency was challenged on occasion when members of the public wanted to witness the meetings, but the gallery was too full for them to enter.
The facilities management team recognised an opportunity to improve the experience of constituents and councillors alike and contacted us to help.
For us, we believe in finding simple solutions that just work. We were able to recommend, supply and install a complete audio, broadcasting and voting solution that prepared their historic council building for the future. Something that was easy to use, easy to set up, and that offered the efficiency and transparency that are key to the council’s operations.
Bosch DICENTIS Wireless Conference System
We recommended the Bosch DICENTIS as the primary audio solution for this large meeting room.
With microphone, speaker and voting button at every seat, the DICENTIS uses a standard wifi connection and smart wireless management to provide interference-free audio and flexible hardware that can be moved and installed easily.
The integration of the voting button allowed easy, quantifiable and reliable voting that could be recorded effortlessly. The system works in unison with the additional camera and microphone set-up.
Speakers just simply push a button to connect their microphone and speak to the room. With microphone and loudspeaker working simultaneously, the result is like a face-to-face experience.
Two Large 75” Displays in the Chamber
The large screens are paired with the voting system to display the votes live in the council meetings, making it clear and easy for everyone to understand the decision outcome.
Modern microphones to compliment the rest of the system were installed in the public petitions area as well as in the public gallery. This ensures members of the public can be heard easily and clearly during meetings or when making petitions.
Three Pan/Tilt/Zoom Cameras
We installed three cameras to provide coverage for the entire chamber. These are integrated with the DICENTIS and will automatically zoom in on council members when they press their button to speak. This helps to give complete clarity to the online webcast viewer over who is saying what.
Integration with Public-i
The high-quality cameras and sound system are suitable for web broadcasting so we integrated this with webcasting services from Public-i to broadcast meetings live via the web. Meetings are also recorded for future viewing on demand.
This alleviates the pressure on the limited space at the Council Chamber when more people wish to witness the proceedings, whilst also making meetings more accessible to people who cannot otherwise attend.