Written on the International Telecommunications Union website, “Among technological developments, national and international policies, and the many diverse interests of commercial businesses, there needs to be an organization that safeguards everyone’s fundamental right to communicate. The ITU is that organization.”
Every four years the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) holds a plenipotentiary meeting to discuss, plan and draw up legislation that will affect the way every person on the planet shares data with one another. No small feat as the Union is represented by 192 Member States and 700 Sector Members (larger than the whole of the United Nations). Held for almost three weeks, the 2010 ITU Plenipotentiary ran multiple meetings in multiple languages, simultaneously, and boasted attendance by the thousands.
What better arena to place the highest forms of communication technology. From LAN and WIFI access throughout the show floor and meeting spaces, to TCP/IP controlled line arrays for sound reinforcement. Nothing, save the best of the best would hold to the expectations and requirements at this year’s ITU Plenipotentiary, held in Guadalajara Mexico at the international expo.
But first things first; how do you turn an empty expo into a fully functional meeting space for multiple meetings hosting several thousand attendees?
For this, ITU turned to an event services company to provide all of the Audio and Video requirements, including Simultaneous Interpretation. Fourteen temporary rooms were built within the expo; the largest seating 2,000 delegates and the smallest with about fifty. The challenge for each room was that the sheer number of delegations meant home running an audio cable for each delegate microphone would be far too tedious and costly. An alternative method for delegations to participate in the discussion would be needed. In addition to the high number of delegates, most meetings would be held in six languages (French, English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic) and every seat would need access to those languages. In short, a daisy-chained conference system would be required to handle the quantity and features needed in the ITU Plenipotentiary.
And so Conference Rental USA was chosen to provide the conference and simultaneous interpretation equipment that would be used throughout the event. Andrew Murphy of Conference Rental USA poured over the ever changing requirements for the 20 day conference and created the packaged solution that would be used by the ITU and their event service provider.
Eleven rooms would be provided with the TAIDEN 4100 Series Push-to-Talk Conference System, totaling over 1,500 delegate units. All of the rooms were set up with redundancy control on the hardware by using a secondary Main Unit to act as a backup in case the primary Main Unit should fail. In the largest room, Mexico Hall, the Member States of the ITU shared 392 TAIDEN HCS-4331D/20 delegate microphones that operated on a request to speak software, allowing the President to monitor and control the pace of discussion by displaying the names of each delegation wishing to speak. These delegate microphones were also equipped with channel selectors, allowing the attendees to connect headphones directly to the microphone unit and receive the interpretation channels.
In addition to the Conference Systems, Simultaneous Interpretation equipment was set up in five of the eleven rooms. Fifty-four TAIDEN interpreter consoles and twenty-seven interpreter booths (all of them ISO standard) were used within the expo for almost three weeks worth of meetings. Just to provide this amount of equipment was a project in it of itself, but the booths and consoles would be used by different interpreters from meeting to meeting and the settings on the equipment needed to be adjusted accordingly.
The second largest room (412 delegate units) was Room A. Six Interpreter Booths and fourteen TAIDEN HCS-4385K2 Interpreter Desks provided the language interpretation needed by the attending delegates. These stations carried all the familiar features for the interpreters; relay and auto relay interpretation, interlocking channels or override, automatic floor return, etc. and gave the interpreter a robust tool for working long hours at difficult tasks.
“Even though each language channel was available at the delegate stations, most attendants would not actually speak during meetings and therefore did not sit near a delegate microphone,” said Andrew Murphy. “So each attendant was issued a Digital Infrared Language Receiver at the beginning of the day to supply the six simultaneous interpretation channels; at the end of each day the delegate would return this for overnight storage.”
To provide coverage for these Digital IR Receivers, Digital IR Radiators were strategically placed throughout the room. In Mexico Hall, only ten IR Radiators were used to cover over 30,000sqft of seating area making an easy cost effective SI solution for any attendee not seated near a delegate microphone.
Camera Follow Audio, a unique feature for the TAIDEN conference system allowed a clear camera shot of the speaking delegation instantly, even in a sea of over 2,000 participants. For example in the largest room, six SONY EVI-D70 PTZ cameras covered the rear two thirds and as a delegate microphone was activated one of these cameras would be triggered to position itself with a clear view of the speaking participant.
The set up for the 2010 ITU Plenipotentiary began in early September; on October 4th the Opening Ceremonies were attended by over 3,000 people and included the President of the United States of Mexico. Over the course of twenty days a small army of audio and video experts managed the largest conference and simultaneous interpretation system in North America, ever. Meetings extended long into the evening and all involved were put to the test. On October 22nd the closing ceremonies signaled the end of this year’s meeting. Delegations from across the globe signed into effect procedures that will help shape the growth of the telecommunications industry moving further toward the goal of greater communication.
On October 23rd, the freight trucks arrived for packing!