One of North America’s largest financial institutions is putting the finishing touches on an impressive AV system for its new offices, featuring conferencing solutions and meeting spaces that could accommodate every need a global organization had traditionally required.
But, as the system was being finalized, the 2020 global pandemic occurred – and the needs for work spaces changed rapidly.
Luckily, the bank’s conferencing setup utilized the scalable Dante audio-over-IP standard. Thus, when technicians for the financial firm looked at what challenges they might have with social distancing requirements, they instead discovered solutions.
“Even with the global pandemic we can still have a large meeting, or even a major event, without too much effort at the new offices,” said Ali, an AV Engineer for the bank. “We can route one audio stream from a single location to many additional rooms that could be used for overfill.”
The bank recently discussed the approach it took to bring its thousands of AV-over-IP signals together, how it built a more effective and efficient corporate conferencing environment, and the simple steps it took to pivot it took to a socially distant workspace.
Building Better Conference Spaces
The bank’s new offices offer more than 1,000 locations where meetings can be held – and most of those spaces rely on AV-over-IP solutions to enable video and teleconferencing.
To manage the thousands of signals in the facility, ensure a secure solution, achieve true interoperability, and offer the highest quality sound available, the bank relies on a system backed by Audinate’s Dante and Dante Domain Manager.
Dante is the de facto standard for digital audio networking, and distributes hundreds of uncompressed, multi-channel digital audio via standard Ethernet networks, with near-zero latency and perfect synchronization. Dante allows audio, control, and all other data to coexist effectively on the same network. Dante is also among the most widely adopted protocols in the world, with more than 500 manufacturers offering more than 2,800 different Dante-enabled solutions.
The Dante system offers the bank resiliency and scalability – features proven in the real-world test of the global pandemic.
Video and teleconferencing was mission critical to the bank even before changes that occurred to workplaces as a result of the pandemic. Today, with a blend of homeworking and social
distancing requirements increasingly common, the ability to provide clarity in conferencing solutions is even more important.
With Dante, audio signals can be easily routed to and from any room in the facility – allowing for overflow rooms to be created, or for multiple rooms to be used for a single meeting with no discontinuity between participants.
Further, proper placement of ceiling microphones and speakers also means an effective setup for social distancing.
“People can just speak normally,” Ali said. “No need to lean into a microphone or talk across someone.”
The workflow for meeting spaces in the facility is expansive, yet also elegant thanks to IP-enabled simplicity:
- The bank made Microsoft Surface Hub interactive whiteboards the core of its conferencing setup. The all-in-one digital boards allow for project collaboration and Microsoft Teams integration. However, once meetings grow beyond six people – or across a larger space – a more robust audio solution is required to ensure everyone can hear and be heard.
- Dante-enabled Sennheiser ceiling microphones capture audio locally. As Ali said, the ceiling microphones were the preference of the bank before the pandemic for reasons of clarity and unobtrusiveness – but with health and safety concerns that can be abated through social distancing, the microphone placement becomes a critical component of the workflow.
- The microphones connect via the network to Dante-enabled Biamp DSPs – which are located across multiple floors in the building in a “farm” configuration.
- To achieve effective communication between larger and remote environments, each Surface Hub is connected to a Shure USB-to-Dante convertor. This allows all audio from the digital board to be brought into a network environment, and to be shared both locally and with remote participants.
- Rooms utilize SoundTube speakers – each one Dante enabled – that provide complete audio coverage in every space. Most rooms are configured for four loudspeakers.
Ali said other locations in the space have different equipment installed but all with the same Dante connectivity. This, he said, allows for interoperability and scalability across every location.
Also, by using a Dante-backed network, the bank has ensured that if a device ever needs to be added or swapped out – such as adding an additional microphone to a location – the AV team can quickly and easily join it to the network.
“All of the configurations and the routing are remembered if you move devices,” Ali said.
Managed and Secured
To manage all of the signals and devices on the network in a centralized location, the Dante Domain Manager software enables user authentication, role-based security, and audit capabilities for Dante networks while allowing seamless expansion of Dante systems over any network infrastructure.
“For example, if I lose a device, if suddenly someone calls for support and says a speaker isn’t working, the first thing I can do is check it on the software, on Dante Domain Manager,” Ali said.
Dante Domain Manager provides observability of the system from any location – and allows for streamlined management and troubleshooting, such as getting a device back up and running remotely. This means there’s no need to dispatch a tech to a different floor – or even a different tower – to manually assess the problem.
Dante Domain Manager also offers robust user-based and device-based authentication, helping secure the system against both malicious actors and – far more commonly – unaware users.
Further, because the new facility has a robust networking topology, multiple subnets have been set up on the bank’s network. With Dante Domain Manager, this type of configuration is no problem – the tools and security offered by Dante Domain Manager work across all subnets that might exist.
Cost Consideration - Dante Paying Dividends
One of the biggest victories Dante offers is in a cost comparison to traditional AV. Going to one cable – the common network cable – the bank sees benefits in costs across many future considerations as well.
“Moving anything around is a lot easier than a traditional system,” Ali said. “If we ever want to change the configuration of a room or make it larger. all you do is grab your gear, go into the room, and use the existing network connection.”