Maritime Port Bureau, Taiwan

Hurrairah bin Sohail speaks with Wei Chen from IPX-Innova about how ZeeVee AV-over-IP solutions were at the heart of the upgrade at the Maritime Port Bureau.

The Maritime Port Bureau, a division of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, located in Taipei, Taiwan, is charged with building a quality environment for the country’s maritime industry. This includes not only reinforcing the country’s maritime capabilities and competitiveness and implementing national maritime policies, but also maintaining order and safety at sea. Pursuant to the latter objective, the organisation recently completed the construction of a new command centre to assist in its monitoring of offshore activity.

The project began in September 2020 and was completed in December 2020 with IPX-Innova Phoenix Electronics appointed as the integrator for the project. Wei Chen, managing director, IPX-Innova, details the integrator’s remit for the Maritime Port Bureau upgrade: “This was a turnkey project for us. We designed and planned the AV systems and then ensured that they were properly deployed. The scope of the project included conference and meeting rooms and two ‘command/ emergency response centres,’ which were the larger of the two types of spaces.”

IPX-Innova was given a good starting point for the project as Chen details: “There was a bid document and it had a number of requirements and specifications such as integration between the camera and the videoconference (VC) system, using the microphone to track speakers in a conference environment and a device control list for the control system which spanned across audio, video and lighting. There were product specifications but no specified manufacturers. This document served as the starting point for the project.”

Conference and meetings It is important to note that the spaces at the Maritime Port Bureau were being upgraded. When it came to the conference and meeting rooms, IPX-Innova focused on improving the function of the spaces and ensuring that the needs of the Maritime Port Bureau were met.

Chen explains how the integrator approached its task: “We installed junction boxes on the table for wired connections and also provided wireless connectivity via ScreenBeam. There was a specific sequence of operations that we wanted. The junction box had priority, so a wired connection would be shown via the projectors as the first priority. The wireless connectivity, however, added an additional layer of inputs allowing it to mirror iPad or iPhone devices.”

Another important aspect of the project was ensuring that content from conference and meeting rooms could be sent to other spaces. Chen details how this was achieved: “The wireless connection is linked to the ZeeVee Zyper4K AV-over-IP, so that allows us to stream the video to other parts of the building. The wireless presentation system also provides Wi-Fi bridging functions as it can connect to the access points in the command room. This enables users to also make wireless presentations in that room without adding extra wireless presentation devices.”

The legacy audio equipment for the conference and meeting rooms was retained for sound.

Command space

Over in the command/emergency response room, a four by two LCD videowall comprising LG 55-in flat panels serves as the main display.

Chen explains how the videowall is employed: “The workstation desktops can be mirrored onto the videowall which has three different pre-set layouts. One mode is where two selected workstations are being displayed in a 2x2 layout, the second is when all eight workstations are displayed and the third is for conferencing—with the centre two by two section of the videowall used to display the VC call. In the latter mode, the displays at the sides of the videowall are used for maritime related information or presentations.”

On the back end, ZeeVee AV-over-IP encoders and decoders and a Datapath VSN controller are used to manage and transport video. Chen details: “From the workstations we use HDMI cables to directly connect these to the video processor. From there, six ZeeVee Zyper4K decoders are used to deliver the signal to Datapath VSN videowall controllers and this drives the four by two LCD videowall. Zyper4K AV-over-IP encoders are used to deliver the video across the building to other rooms and spaces.”

Employing AV over IP and videowall controllers for the display is a novel approach and Chen explains: “Our initial design for the video system was based just around the ZeeVee Zyper4K. But the feedback from the client was that due to the critical nature of the deployment, they would like to have an extra layer of reliability and stability. So, we chose to include the Datapath VSN videowall processer to meet the requirements. However, the Zyper4K was still needed. Video over IP allowed us good quality transmission as well as an easy way to control the system. It simplified the entire cabling. And it gave us flexibility and reliability as well. In the end, the videowall processors are just focusing on handling the different layouts or modes for the videowall itself while the Zyper4K is responsible for transporting the signal.”

Regarding the video deployment, Chen says: “The deployment of the video system was quite straightforward, and we didn’t face any major challenges. There were some sync issues with the displays for the videowall, but we were able to troubleshoot them. Similarly, there were some challenges with the graphical output from the video processor, there was conflict between the software versions. But again, these are part and parcel of being an integrator and nothing that we could not handle.”

Audio for the command/ emergency response room has also been given special consideration. Chen says: “For the company room we purchased a TOA amplifier and cabinet speakers. It’s not just a regular amplifier, but a mixer amplifier. We support three audio sources. The first is the audio source from the Datapath controller coming from the displays. The second is from the microphones. The third is from the videoconferencing platform.”

On the topic of control, Chen elaborates: “Using video over IP meant that devices are all on the network so control was really simplified. With the addition of the AMX processor, we essentially just needed to design a user interface and after that it was just a matter of drag and drop. We used AMX because we are very familiar with the platform and the product. The user interface is pretty flexible and designing a customisable user interface is easy to manage.”

Reviewing the project, Chen narrates specific ups and downs the integrator experienced: “Integrating the videoconferencing with the AV system was interesting for us. The AV systems all sit on their own network which we have set up. This includes all audio, video and control on the same switch. The workstations however are on a separate network from the AV systems. This meant that we essentially had two different networks and unfortunately the VC platform was not on the AV network. The VC platform obviously has to connect to the web and the way we had budgeted the ports and set up the control system meant that we were not able to incorporate the videoconferencing into the AV network. We eventually solved the issue by accessing the VC platform via a browser and using that for control.”

Chen concludes: “There are always modifications and adjustments to be made to the systems and the designs as the project progresses. We kept in constant communication with the end user and focused on their requirements. The end user did not know what specific products they needed but they were very clear with regards to the functions their system must perform. It was our job to make sure that we were able to translate these functions into AV systems they delivered.”

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