Medical School, Hong Kong

Hurrairah bin Sohail discovers how Vega helped a university’s medical school make a giant leap in tech capabilities with an AV and IT upgrade.

A recent upgrade at a university in Hong Kong for its medical school, across four different buildings, serves to illustrate the direction modern tertiary education institutes are taking when it comes to technology in service of teaching and learning. With an investment of HKD 100 million, this endeavour is believed to be the largest AV/IT design and build project in the history of Hong Kong.

Vega was the integration partner for the upgrade and Raymond Ng, senior project manager at Vega, details: “Over the course of three years of meticulous planning and execution, Vega, a renowned leader in audiovisual solutions, has been entrusted with the task of providing a comprehensive technology solution system to revolutionise technology. This includes HCI architecture, network infrastructure, and LED wall installations, covering a range of AV, lighting, and security systems. The scale of this venture is truly awe-inspiring, as it aims to serve the needs of over 5,000 students, 420 full-time academic staff, and 1,000 research personnel within Hong Kong’s leading medical school.”

Ng talks about some of the main requirements for the project: “The main thrust for this upgrade project was to implement 4K distribution, the higher resolution was a key focus and we needed to upgrade the technology infrastructure and its capabilities to support 4K transmission. The medical school needs to create and share content via live broadcast and on-demand platforms, and they need the higher resolution to accurately capture the details of the subject matter that they are trying to convey.”

Conversations around signal transmission for higher resolutions can become mired in technical complexity but Vega was able to ascertain the client’s intended outcomes. Ng says: “The end user did not want to get tangled up in technical jargon. From their perspective, they were concerned with the experience. They wanted a clear image and smooth video transmission. From this we knew that the technology backbone and infrastructure would need to be bulletproof.”

He continues: “We examined the desired application for 4K and realised that the differences in 4K60 and 4K30 in terms of quality were not particularly significant. We also realised that latency was not a concern. For example, if we are livestreaming an operation being performed in a theatre and the content needs to be shown in a lecture theatre in a different building, latency would not be a concern as long as the content was being delivered in high quality with stable transmission. Furthermore, we built a dedicated network for the university and that allowed us to have extended control over the latency and other aspects of AV over IP to be able to create the perfect experience.”

Crestron NVX encoders and decoders are used for AV-over-IP students with content on-demand to enhance their learning outcomes and pacing.

Regarding the challenges faced during the course of the project, Ng says: “There are complications whenever AV and the network come together. We had to contend with bandwidth requirement issues from the start due to the high resolution content. Other than that, the 4K video transmission over NVX was not an issue. However, we did have some integration challenges with audio in particular with crosstalk. When using the Cisco telepresence, we could rely on the AEC of the codec for echo cancellation. But when we ran the microphones through the DSP, we had to spend time to make sure the tuning and setup was correct.”

Murphy So, senior AV consultant at Vega, details further challenges: “One significant challenge was building a proprietary network for content distribution and video communication that was ready for hybrid communication, on-premise, and cloud integration. This aspect of the project accounted for 30% of the total project's cost and demanded meticulous planning and execution. To address this challenge, we focused on ensuring a seamless and uninterrupted streaming experience for all users, regardless of their location. We carefully planned and implemented the network infrastructure, considering the specific requirements of content distribution and video communication. Additionally, we leveraged the power of technology by incorporating over 800 sets of Crestron DM NVX for AV-over-IP connection.”

Another obstacle Vega faced was the physical limitation during the project for the medical school. So says: “We had to ensure that the distribution of video and signals could be clearly delivered to all students, regardless of their location within the science laboratories, lecture theatres, or tutorial rooms structured in various spatial sizes. To tackle this challenge, we determined the different sizes and quantity of displays required for various areas. By strategically placing displays of appropriate sizes, we ensured that students could clearly receive and view the video and signals in all kinds of academic spaces at Hong Kong’s leading medical school.”

Dennis Ho, senior sales manager at Vega, talks about further challenges encountered: “One of the challenges we faced was the design of wireless channels frequency due to the presence of numerous frequencies covering the campus. It was crucial to design the wireless channels with precision to ensure optimal performance. To overcome this challenge, we conducted a thorough frequency analysis and employed advanced spectrum management techniques to identify and allocate the optimal frequency bands for our wireless channels. This ensured efficient and reliable wireless communication throughout the campus.”

Network integration with the school facilities and existing systems, such as recording system of the school library platform, was another challenge that the team had faced.

Ho further adds: “It was pivotal to ensure that all networks involved in the project were seamlessly integrated and compatible with the existing recording system of the school library platform. To confront the challenge, we engaged in detailed planning to bring together different technologies and ensured interoperability between them. This allowed for a seamless integration of the networks and the existing recording system.”

With the technology systems up and running, Ng concludes: “The system we have deployed is quite impressive, making this one of the best medical schools in Hong Kong. The feedback from the teachers is that the technology has been very useful for students in terms of how they learn to perform surgeries and procedures. So, there has been a positive practical impact. Even when it comes to simple presentation, there has been a vast improvement because they have jumped forward a decade in terms of technology. The AV team has been able to help set up the system for the teachers, and for simple usage the teachers are proficient in operating the system themselves. The teaching staff in general has become very proficient with technology over the past years.”

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