Amsterdam meeting facility turns on 800-screen in-house network

September 9, 2009 by Dave Haynes


Convention centers and the facilities feeding into them have massive, massive footprints and I have yet to see one that has really done its signage platform well … mostly beacause the cost of all the needed equipment and installaltion labor would be through the roof.

That didn’t stop the people who run the biggest meeting facility in Amsterdam, called Amsterdam RAI, which has just finished off a network that has some 800 screens. Yes, 800.

The network, named RAI Live!, offers visitors a live news, information and way-finding system that also enables RAI to lower its operational costs, reduce its carbon impact and generate additional revenues from conference and event customers, reports a press release from Scala, which supplied the software platform through an integrator.

“After extensive research and a pilot, RAI concluded that digital media would add value to their primary process of hosting events and exhibitions and would help them in being the most innovative compact venue of Europe. In close cooperation with RAI, QYN designed and developed a unique digital way-finding system with Scala at its core to meet its scalability and media management requirements,” said Aart Nap, Operations Director, QYN.

QYN’s solution was to conceive and deliver a digital network that used a variety of output devices (fixed screens, mobile screens and LED lighting) to deliver a meaningful visitor experience from entry to exit. QYN identified key visitor “journey points” that influenced screen placement and content. RAI’s internal team creates content using pre-designed templates for way-finding, sponsorship and other information. They can also include news feeds, event updates, local weather and flight times.

– Entry and exit points: Amsterdam RAI has eight separate entrances for different events. A mix of permanent screens and freestanding, dual-sided mobile screens (“flexible icons”) provide information, way-finding and commercial messaging relating to a specific event. RAI Live! can use this opportunity to generate revenue from event organizers, exhibitors and brands using the venue to promote their products and services.

– Halls and walkways: Across 11 halls, RAI Live! provides visitors with screen-specific way-finding to lead them to their destination and to prompt a visit to a particular meeting, conference, stand or brand. Content can be updated in real time to ensure that as the venue changes in use throughout the day, necessary changes are reflected on the screen network automatically. Automatic updates ensure information is always accurate and up to date. This helps move visitors around the venue quickly and effectively, reducing the need for staff to replace posters and attend physically.

– Conference areas and meeting rooms: These screens provide up-to-date notifications about upcoming presentations, workshops and breaks. 

There is a very good case study and images on the project here

I have looked for a long time at convention centers and how they’d be properly done. Even wrote a business plan. But never went the next step with it. The challenge is that huge footprint, and the images in the case study somewhat reflect that challenge. In poured concrete facilities with ceilings that are 30 metres or more high, even a pile of large LCDs can get overwhelmed by the surroundings.

It would be great to see this in person and conclude whether sheer volume of screens overcomes that. However, Amsterdam is a long, very wet drive over from Toronto so that’s not happening anytime soon.   

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