The Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) opened in July 1987, after originally serving as the Canada Pavilion at the World's Fair in 1986. Since its inception, the facility has demonstrated a constant commitment to service excellence, technical capabilities, and creative high-quality banqueting. The Vancouver Convention Centre has grown to become recognized as one of the leading convention centres in the world and hosts over 300 events with close to 600,000 visitors annually.
Built on the original Pier B-C and water, with floor-to-ceiling glass throughout that treats guests to phenomenal harbor and mountain views, the new West Building is a masterpiece of design, inspiration and sustainability. With the expansion completed, the VCC has tripled their size to cover 1.1 million square feet (or four city blocks) for a combined total of 473,523 square feet of pre-function, meeting, exhibition, and ballroom space. With over 72 separate meeting rooms, plus ballrooms and exhibition space, the facility now offers the ability to hold multiple simultaneous events, each with their own separate access and function space.
During the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Vancouver Convention Centre will serve as the international broadcast centre for all media relations at the Games.
As part of the expansion project, the objective was to improve the guest experience by providing them with exceptional visual communications to guide visitors through the large facility. Displays were mounted on central pillars/towers, hallways and placed outside conference rooms throughout both the East complex and the new West building. In total, Bell installed over 170 LCD screens, ranging from 37 to 60 inches throughout the facilities.
Bell Canada was contacted to manage the digital signage system for the VCC. Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers with solutions to all their communications needs, including telephone services, wireless communications, high-speed Internet, digital television and voice over IP. Bell also offers integrated information and communications technology (ICT) services to businesses and governments. Additionally, Bell is a Premier National Partner and the exclusive Telecommunications Partner to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Bell undertook an extensive evaluation process in order to determine what solution was best suited to the VCC. "The digital signage system will help us communicate with the thousands of visitors who attend events hosted at the Vancouver Convention Centre each year," said Gregory Davey, Associate Director Olympics, IP and broadcast services, GM convention centre services, Bell Canada. After careful review, Omnivex software was ultimately chosen as the content management software to run the system. Davey continued, "Omnivex software was selected for its ability to easily manage a very large network of screens and because it could interface with the existing event management system." Information only needs to be updated in one backend management system or database and the Omnivex software automatically formats and displays that information on the appropriate screens.
Omnivex digital signage allows for centralized management of all installed displays, effectively utilizing them as digital billboards. Omnivex software provides the complete content management and device management solution that is designed to manage any number of displays from a central location. Being controlled by a central server allows for rapid changes to the message, formatting or artwork of all or specific screens. Omnivex Moxie is a "store and forward" system, meaning all of the components (content, layouts, playlists and schedules) are assembled at the central management location and delivered to the remote players once. Corrections or new messages can be broadcast to many screens in near real-time. As well, content changes can be based on external data or triggered by remote users. "Omnivex software is well suited to these types of large installations, because it automates the process of maintaining accurate and up-to-date information on the displays, without the need for someone to modify content, thus reducing operating costs," said Jeff Collard, president of Omnivex. "The system will also scale easily to accommodate their growing needs and plans. Additionally, it has the ability to be used as an emergency notification tool, by tying into the Convention Centre's existing systems," concluded Collard.
A central server with digital signage management and content creation software transmits text, images, video and animations over an Internet or LAN connection to media players connected to the LCD screens. The meeting room and convention scheduling information is automatically displayed on the appropriate screens throughout the buildings using Omnivex SQLLink software to pull the information from VCC's Event Business Management System (EBMS) software. Omnivex SQLLink makes queries to the EBMS system to retrieve event data. This data is then placed into the Omnivex DataPipe server where it will be utilised by Omnivex Moxie. Information only needs to be updated in the EBMS, and the Omnivex software automatically formats and displays that information on the appropriate screens throughout the facility. Using Omnivex Moxie, different layouts are designed to be used with a data triggered playlist. The Player will then play the appropriate content based on the data retrieved from the EBMS system.
Omnivex Control manages all device functions for remote screens and computers from a central location with real-time status information. Omnivex Control receives real-time information directly from the display device. Daily routines can be automated (such as powering on and off of hardware) and the system can be configured to automatically react to any information received from any device (for example, should a PC encounter a problem, the Omnivex software can reboot the PC or send a notification to the network operator for further investigation). All functions can be scheduled to automatically occur from a central location.
The Vancouver Convention Centre maintains an extensive environmental program to ensure sustainability in everything they do. This commitment to green technology can be found in every corner: the "living roof," made of indigenous plants, seawater heating and cooling, on-site water treatment and even fish habitat built into the foundation. "The Omnivex software allows us to remotely turn on and off all of the display hardware associated with the digital signage network, prolonging the life of the equipment and reducing energy costs. It also alerts us if there are any hardware failures on the network, increasing up time," said Davey.
Information is easily accessible and clearly formatted to ensure people know which room their meeting is taking place in or how to navigate the facility. "Guests are able to access information they need to know quickly and in a format that is clear," said Davey. "We have found it easy to maintain and manage the network using Omnivex software, as it automates so many of the processes associated with running a large scale, real time visual communications system," concluded Davey. The digital signage system will play an integral role at the upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, when the VCC will be used as the international broadcast centre.
The digital signage system at the Vancouver Convention Centre earned Omnivex the sole digital signage award in Sign Media Canada's 2009 National Sign Competition. "Submissions arrived from across the country. Our judges reviewed all eligible entries based on the entry's merits in terms of originality, creativity, appearance and design suitability," said Peter Saunders, editor of Sign Media Canada. "The competition this year attracted projects of a higher calibre overall, truly capturing the best of the best in Canadian sign making. In this highly competitive field, there were some very close finishes, so we must congratulate all entrants on the fantastic quality of work this year," concluded Saunders.