NEC Display Solutions Client Installation Education

University of Hertfordshire

AV tech facilities scientific research

Investing in homegrown academic talent whilst widening international reputation is all the more crucial in todays’ post Brexit Britain. The University of Hertfordshire’s ambitions to raise its profile have resulted in a magnificent new science building with cutting-edge technology including a range of NEC displays and projection solutions to support mainly undergraduate scientific research.

With a proud heritage in aerospace engineering, the once Hatfield Technical College has taken off to become the UK’s leading business-facing university with ambitions for international renown. The University of Hertfordshire is working towards its 2020 Estates Vision, a ground-breaking plan to create an inspirational space in which to live and learn, to attract the best teaching and research talent and to dramatically raise the university’s profile.

The Challenge

One element of this ambitious transformation has been realised at the recent opening of a landmark new science building at its College Lane campus. Bringing all its science facilities under one stunning roof, the 9,000sqm, five storey building houses laboratories, cutting-edge research technology and areas for informal learning and socialising. The £50m building, plus the flexible, future focused teaching and work spaces it houses, are designed to be highly sustainable achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating..

Following a user consultation process which involved academic and technical staff regarding which activities took place in the spaces and how they were delivered, an AV design was developed that took into account the university’s agreed AV specification.

As these are not general teaching spaces we had to develop the delivery of the AV in each different environment,” says Adam Harvey, solution architect, AV and digital media, University of Hertfordshire. “These are not bespoke systems per room but more variations on a theme. We’ve developed standardised AV systems over many years and this has served us well in supporting our users.”

UniHertfordshireDetail1The NEC Solution

Following a tendering process, Integrator Reflex provided an innovative solution that comprised video and audio distribution using an AV-over-IP delivery solution based around WyreStorm Network HD.

In the science labs, NEC 46” V463 displays are installed at the end of every bench, controlled by IP. “We have found NEC displays to be very reliable having worked with the brand for several years. The specification of the screens fell within the usage parameters for the lab spaces and are now delivering bright HD content, easily readable in the sun lit lab spaces,” says Adam Harvey.

Projection is used for the traditional teaching wall for large display purposes. Projectors were needed in every teaching lab, classroom, and computer lab as the focal point of the room. NEC’s PA552U projectors were chosen due to their excellent performance and brightness.

Adam continues: “It’s all about standardisation across the building – it’s helped for the past 10 years. We have about 2,500 staff at the university and a lot of people come into the rooms to present so it needs to be consistent in every room. By standardizing on NEC for our display and projection needs we are assured of an excellent quality product delivering reliable performance whilst simplifying operation and maintenance.”

Elsewhere, NEC P553SST displays act as digital signage screens on each floor landing to display internal communications to staff and students. In the future, these will function as touchscreen displays as the university embarks on developments in wayfinding and rolling out the ‘Ask Herts’ service which answers students’ questions about the university.

In the meeting rooms, NEC V552 displays deliver content from any source from around the building and a pair of NEC PA522U projectors and two NEC V463 repeater screens were the products of choice for the IT suites. These all exist as part of the WyreStorm Network HD system, meaning all local devices can be switched via the local Crestron touch panel to each display, but they can also have any source in the building routed to them. All meetings are then booked through the university timetabling system.

The tech innovation continues in the simulation suites, two replicating hospital set-ups and another mimicking a pharmacy consultation environment where NEC E243WMi displays comprise the visual interface.

The Result

Moving forward, room linking and collaboration around the building are planned additions for phase two. “The functionality is there, it’s just getting it into a state where a user can operate it easily,” concludes Harvey. “We’ll probably roll out the AV-over-IP to more buildings because it’s proving successful and the university network can easily cope with it. There are also more diagnostic tools on the network than you have for a traditional AV system.”

We have had a long standing relationship using NEC display products. Quality, reliability and after sales service is key to allow us to deliver robust services to our users and for us, NEC ticks all those boxes. Working with NEC on this project allowed us to specify the right product for each environment and ensure that we had all the support we needed during the installation phase and beyond.”