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December 13, 2021

Conferencing in historic city council rooms

5 things to consider when balancing modern AV technology with preservation demands in historic buildings


As city councils are embracing modern conferencing technology to improve the flexibility and efficiency of their council meetings, switching to an up-to-date system with today’s most advanced technology is not always that easy to accomplish. Or is it?

The fact that a lot of city councils hold their meetings in historic buildings or council rooms with stringent preservation orders, is often stated as a reason not to install an adequate audiovisual conferencing/delegate microphone 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 city council room should never prevent you from using the most optimal conferencing system.

We give you 5 things to consider:

  1. Mounting of AV Components
  2. Wiring
  3. Sound
  4. Lighting and cameras
  5. Signal reception

1. Mounting of AV components

It’s a common misconception that audiovisual components for a conferencing system in a council room need to be wall or ceiling-mounted to be completely optimized. In fact, especially in historic council rooms, this will not be the preferred solution. Delicate plasterwork, strict preservation orders, protected architecture or numerous other things stand in the way of using drill holes or adhesive mounting materials to attach speakers, routers, access points…etc. 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 if it were never in the room. It can be assembled and mounted without impacting the structural elements of the building. Custom, made-to-measure audiovisual conferencing units can even be integrated into the furniture (e.g., into the armrests of the chairs).

Curious? Have a look at some inspiring examples.

2. Wiring

For aesthetic or structural reasons, wiring may be a hurdle to overcome when installing conferencing equipment in a historic city council room. Power supply, ethernet cables…etc 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 city council meetings.

3. Sound

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 for additional audio reinforcement in the optimal locations.

For city council meetings in historic buildings, this situation requires specialized advice to ensure the audibility of the debate to all council members and to the audience. This is why, before considering to install or upgrade a conferencing system in a historic city council room, 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 city council, 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 city council rooms, 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 city council meetings in historic council rooms 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 meeting 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 city council rooms. Wood paneling on the walls and bad R/F quality are only some of the issues that can occur 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 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 challenging RF enviornments.

The combination of all these technologies result in innovative wireless conference solutions that feel at home in any meeting environment.

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