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POLARaudio Assists French Bank Revolution in London

POLARaudio Assists French Bank Revolution in London
POLARaudio Assists French Bank Revolution in London

Founded by a group of industrialists and financiers in 1864, The Societe Generale is France's third largest bank and is a revered institution by any standards. Ranked as one of the world's most admired companies in which to work, this 150 year old behemoth has had a presence in London since 1871. Occupying locations at St James' Square and Tower Hill, Soc Gen to give its popular abbreviation owes its history to a ceaseless programme of innovation which is applied across every part of its operation. The constant adapting and refining of its approach in an ever-changing world has seen Soc Gen perform strongly even in the most sluggish of environments. In 2010, Soc Gen launched a vast transformation plan to adapt to industry changes, build a reputation as THE relationship-focused bank and position itself among the leading European financial services groups. One of the themes of the transformation was to take full advantage of the benefits afforded by technological enhancements in the working environment. POLARaudio and installers ProAV became part of this French Revolution in a corner of London, when they were invited to address a very demanding brief.

In a nutshell, Societe Generale wanted to revolutionise its existing provision by combining the functions of a conferencing system with those of a public address system. It required a system capable of allowing communications to flow across multiple locations in two different buildings. The system was to be flexible and easy to use whilst at the same time offering very high quality, clearly intelligible audio communications (and in some cases, video) capable of rising above the general hum of office and trading floor activities. This is a hothouse environment where success depends largely on effective communication of constantly updated information from a central point to a large number of traders and other staff. The system also needed the wider capacity to allow for individual 'broadcasts' – perhaps a visiting executive wishing to address a particular section and then expanding the coverage of the 'location broadcast' back into the boardroom or elsewhere. Thus, presenters of communications needed to be mobile, have a range of microphone options (lapel, handset or headset) and be able to operate from primary and secondary locations in either building. Furthermore, given that SG operates in 76 countries around the world, the system was to provide external interfaces to facilitate remote audio access for people within SG buildings, nationally and internationally. This was a complex and demanding brief. It is worth emphasising that for all of the permutations required, the audio quality had to be of the highest order – a trading floor would not be the place to mishear information.

Central to the solution designed by POLARaudio was the award winning Biamp Tesira system. This line of digital signal processors is designed for use in large, extra-large and super-scale platforms and enabled the POLARaudio team to meet the challenge of simultaneously providing a conferencing facility and a public address system in one. Tesira as a 'protocol-agnostic' system could be employed through the existing SG corporate network to distribute the required audio and video traffic. The technical challenge of bridging two buildings to be seen as one seamless network was overcome using AVB and SIP protocols and as such was a ringing endorsement of Tesira's impressive capabilities.

beyerdynamic microphones were used exclusively throughout the project. The Opus 600 wireless microphone system and the Stegos wireless microphone boundary system were used extensively with a number of other beyerdynamic ancillary products. A combination of high quality, robustness and ease of use made the beyerdynamic range a natural fit in this environment. Over 200 rapid-fit 4" Australian monitor speakers powered by Australian monitor amps completed the picture.

This was a challenging installation to say the least. Obtaining the desired speaker coverage was very important. Audio had to be segmented across different zones and careful attention paid to localising sound as required in the different areas of the buildings. Installers ProAV were further challenged by the fact that their access to the site was compromised by the tight time-framework allowed by limited downtime on the trading floors. They had to work quickly, with no margin for error, to ensure that there was minimum disruption to trading whilst achieving accurate audio coverage. To their immense credit the work was completed to exact specification and, crucially, on time.

Managing director of POLARaudio, John Midgley reviewed the challenge: "At first sight, the brief for this work would appear to be tricky in the extreme. Combining the functions of conferencing and public address, flexibly, across distinctly different working areas of one building, would inevitably present a challenge. Extending that same facility across two separate buildings and one would expect any problems to be proportionally magnified. There was, of course, a great deal of hard work to be done but broadly speaking, after close consultation with ProAV over a system design, the use of Biamp Tesira cut straight through to the heart of the brief and demonstrated its capabilities with flying colours, to the great satisfaction of all parties."

Societe Generale has rooted its success in consistently innovating and addressing the challenges of a fast-moving commercial world. The outcomes of this project attest to the fact that in POLARaudio and ProAV it identified like-minded partners.

10th November 2014

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