Written by Mark Abernathy
Photography by Sean Thomas
ICC Sydney is Australia’s largest convention venue, but despite its 70 meeting rooms and 35,000sqm of exhibition space it also has a reputation for its industry-leading technology and audiovisual services. Attendees at ICC Sydney events are mostly on business, says Director of ICT Services, Evan Wood, and they expect the quality of connectivity that they enjoy at their workplace. “We support a seamless, connected IT experience for people who are used to high-quality communications. When our delegates don’t have to engage with the ICT team, then we know we’re doing our job.”
Wood says ICC Sydney was engineered around a Cisco core infrastructure that supports 1030 WiFi access points and over 9000 switch ports. In addition, ICC Sydney’s extensive AV services, critical systems and building control systems all run on the ICT platform which can deliver download speeds of up to 10 Gbps to users. “We’re built around Cisco hardware and management systems, which is the best infrastructure for large-scale, secure and resilient use, and is the most efficient system for scaling to different event sizes. Sibos in 2018 had an average 8500 users on our system at any time, and there wasn’t one reported problem.”
Wood says the ICT team employs 21 people to manage the venue’s ICT infrastructure and operations, and while accessibility, reliability and connectivity are crucial to attendees, security is a major preoccupation.
“We run a ‘Critical Infrastructure’ system, with robust physical security features, next generation firewalls, vulnerability scanning, and intrusion prevention. We also ensure our staff are trained in how to use it effectively,” says Wood. “We’re halfway through our ISO 27001 certification for information security, which will make us the only convention venue in the world with this accreditation.”
One of the services that runs on ICC Sydney’s network is the audiovisual capability, according to ICC Sydney Director of AV Services, Brian Nash. He says the technology behind the AV offering is extensive because international conferences want an AV capability that delivers professional event-production, light shows and video editing. “Venue criteria is now very focused on the quality of the sound and vision. The major conventions set a very high bar and we aim to be ahead of the curve.”
The ‘Qsys’ system is the audio in-house platform that provides flexible, reliable, low-latency sound through the venue. The high-quality sound can be sent to hundreds of speakers, and is managed from the control room or from smartphones and tablets. All meeting rooms have in-built QSC ceiling speakers and the larger rooms have custom-designed D&B speaker systems.
“The speaker systems have been designed for the spaces, and the spaces are acoustically perfect,” says Nash. “This whole venue is an engineered, bespoke audio experience.”
Beyond the latest technology, ICC Sydney offers AV services such as its new Digital Media Suite where clients can have content created by professionals, from welcome videos to post-edited ‘wrap films’. Also offered is an ICC Sydney streaming service where clients can have presentations and events streamed to their YouTube, Facebook or corporate accounts.
“We’re constantly surveying attendees and investigating what is happening across the industry,” says Nash. “Our goal is to be the best-performing convention venue in the world, especially when it comes to the technology experience of our visitors,” says Wood.