Girls™ Day School Trust

Future-proofing the workplace

London-based integrator Tateside was chosen to install a sub-divisible AV meeting room solution that future-proofs collaboration and communication for The Girls™ Day School Trust (GDST) – a family of 25 all-girls, independent schools and the largest group of its kind in the UK.

The 5th floor of a multi-tenant building near London Victoria is the location of the trust’s main headquarters. With a commitment to providing quality girls-only education, the GDST recognised the need to upgrade its meeting room technology at the site to enhance collaboration and communication between stakeholders and provide a space to hold events. The installation comprised a range of corporate spaces, including huddle rooms, an events space and sub-divisible meeting rooms.

“The team at GDST reached out directly to Tateside to express their need for an AV update due to latency and synchronisation issues during video calls. The collaboration began with a survey of the space and their current meeting room technology, followed by a quote for a phase one upgrade, which would encompass small meeting spaces or huddle rooms”, recalls Joby Morris, Audio, Visual & Networks Specialist at Tateside. “Next, we proposed a vision for a more extensive installation, including sub-divisible meeting spaces.”

One room fits all

After an initial survey in December 2022, the installation commenced in June 2023, allowing six months of meticulous planning and collaboration. We divided the project into two phases: the first included outfitting small meeting rooms with NEAT bars and NEAT pads, while the second aimed to transform the events space into a multi-use area with sub-divisible meeting spaces and conference capabilities. This would require more complex planning and overcoming challenges posed by working with an existing network and technologies.

“Following the relatively simple installation of all-in-one NEAT Bar and Pad conferencing solutions in the huddle rooms, the Girls™ Day School Trust team had ambitious visions for its larger spaces, including a main boardroom and an event space”, explains Morris. Following discussions, we opted for the increasingly popular option of sub-divisible meeting spaces.

The project focuses on two spaces known as the Art and Drama Rooms. Here, the concept was to create a room that could accommodate up to 100 people for events but could be sub-divided into two separate meeting spaces. We installed Sennheiser Team Connect 2 ceiling microphones to capture audio from all four corners of the space. We also positioned two AVer auto-tracking cameras at the front and back of the room, ensuring we could capture both presenters and audience members. Visuals are via two Samsung 65” displays, one for each sub-divided space. Existing ceiling loudspeakers provide audio on a Dante network.

Enhancing the collaboration and communication

“We added a bespoke element here, via AVers PTZ link, to integrate microphone data to facilitate automatic camera switching based on the presenter’s location in the room”, explains Morris. “Taking this larger space and making it work as two separate meeting rooms required using a Crestron system connected to two PCs running Microsoft Teams and Zoom. A Blustream matrix manages the video distribution and customises camera feeds based on the configuration. The room then opens into a single space, which the user can signal through the Crestron control; the system switches onto a single PC via a custom UDP.”

For a consistent user experience, the system uses Mago unified communication software, allowing for bring-your-own-device capabilities. We worked on custom integrations allowing easy sharing to any screen through the familiar user interface provided by Mago, continues Morris. Whether the user is utilising the Art, Drama or entire space, they have a consistent user experience.

Aside from the Art & Drama space, the Council Chamber was another focus of the work at the Girls™ Day School Trust. Characterised by a long boardroom table, the system followed a similar setup in the sub-divisible spaces, with seamless control via Creston and front and back cameras. Here, Shure microphones provide crystal clear speech pick-up and deliver data that feeds the camera switching.

Adaptation for legacy systems

“We were required to adapt to the various meeting room technology already in place at the Girls Day School Trust”, explains Morris. “We quickly realised that the existing network was unreliable and needed to be carefully configured to avoid complications. Luckily, we were able to recognise these pitfalls before they became a problem. Ultimately, we upgraded the network with a Netgear switch to ensure better reliability; it works perfectly.”

Under the guidance of Tateside, the GDST successfully transformed its meeting rooms and event spaces into advanced, user-friendly and highly versatile areas for collaboration and communication. The project not only addressed existing challenges but also laid the foundation for a future-ready AV infrastructure that will serve the GDST’s educational mission for years to come.

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