Projects

Case study: Room for improvement – how Arup standardised visual collaboration across offices

15 September 2019 | By Andrew Pring

  • Client: Arup
  • BIM Tools: Cyviz Easy Server Integration and Easy Controller

Arup has an ongoing need to demonstrate to its clients how its concepts and designs will look, which includes viewing plans and graphics in considerable detail. Close liaison is essential, not just with clients but also between Arup’s many employees whose skills encompass a range of complementary disciplines.

Effective collaboration allows the expertise of each member of Arup’s multi-disciplinary project teams to be combined for better decision-making. Such collaboration is often best done on large displays, using sophisticated AV technology. This facilitates the creation of optimal design and construction plans, so the company can meet, and exceed, client expectations.

The challenge: enabling interactive visual collaboration for large multi-disciplinary teams

Arup frequently employs large project teams which often include participants, both clients and Arup staff, from across the globe. These require large meeting room spaces and displays to collaborate effectively. Arup has around 400 video-enabled meeting rooms across its various offices and understands how vital it is to effectively connect their disparate employees and clients.

Arup uses state-of-the-art BIM applications which are best viewed in a large format using several sources of content where users can drill down and consider multiple perspectives simultaneously. This includes the need to display high-quality images in interactive collaboration sessions between Arup teams and clients.

The extensive requirements for successful team collaboration, as well as for productive client engagement, meant Arup had difficulty finding the right solutions to suit varying needs. This was particularly true for the larger spaces that are more complex to design from a collaboration perspective.

Several bespoke solutions were considered, but most were expensive and not easily scaleable to the size of room and specific meeting requirements. Arup was looking for something that the company could replicate across its offices, whilst being easy to manage and support.

Maximising use of space at Arup

Many of the company’s larger meeting spaces are multi-purpose and are used for “town hall” type events. In addition, they can be used for specific meeting, presentation and application-centric needs, such as for BIM.

User requirements driving choice of solution

While Arup’s small and medium-sized rooms were working well, a staff satisfaction survey highlighted users were becoming frustrated with the lack of ability to hold larger meetings and presentations involving many people. An assessment of the requirements for large meeting spaces revealed the need to showcase projects successfully to clients, as well as enable inter-company collaboration on a large scale. This included the use of sophisticated software applications and allowing extensive and detailed sharing of data, to facilitate the complex decision-making to drive projects forward.

The solution: driving standardisation to improve productivity

Large, collaborative meetings typically have complex requirements. These can be architectural, such as the need for divisible rooms, appropriate ceiling height, lighting and acoustic considerations, in addition to both aesthetic and technical functionality.

Like many organisations, Arup recognised that standardising technology across offices makes collaboration easier and saves time and money. This was particularly true when it came to support. Indeed, using a range of different solutions meant that users were having to spend time learning how to operate each particular room before each meeting.

This slowed down the collaboration process and impacted meeting efficiency. Standardisation was a particularly attractive goal because it would allow ease of use by providing a consistent user experience and centralised IT support.

The standardised turnkey solution Cyviz proposed for Arup’s Boston office consisted of three pro-jectors, blended to create one large seamless image

To address such needs, Arup’s global IT team engaged with Cyviz, which offers global turnkey solutions for multi-purpose collaboration spaces.

The standardised turnkey solution Cyviz proposed for Arup’s Boston office consisted of three projectors, blended to create one large seamless image. This solution has overcome the challenges of large-scale presentations to both internal and external audiences.

The Cyviz technology allows several content sources from various feeds to be displayed on a screen at the same time, together with video-conferencing. For example, during a collaboration session, a project drawing can be displayed in one single pane, a timeline for the project in another and information about the contractors in another. A user can move easily from one window to the next, stretching the image and zooming in at the touch of a button without having to manage different feeds.

The set up renders itself perfectly for multidisciplinary teams with participants from different departments and bringing their specific views to the table. Arup particularly liked the fact that Cyviz offered complementary yet standardised technology to other systems already deployed elsewhere and was able to provide a consistent user experience.

This has the advantage that users did not have to waste time learning how to configure the system each time they used it. It also allowed Arup clients to connect seamlessly from whatever technology they wanted to use.

In addition, the system can be fully supported by Arup without having to use external third parties. All this, and the fact that Cyviz provides sophisticated yet easy-to-use technology that works straight out-of-the box, helped make the decision to adopt Cyviz for Arup’s Boston office very straightforward.

Environmentally friendly

Superior video and audio quality means travelling to customer sites or between offices is much reduced, saving time and money as well as reducing Arup’s carbon footprint.

The results

The Cyviz solution is now up and running and working effectively in Arup’s Boston office. Users are delighted with the ease of use and high quality, flexible visual experience, especially the ability to view multiple images simultaneously.

As the graphical user interface remains the same for each office, changes can be made to accommodate the specific requirements of each meeting, while still providing a ‘plug and play’ consistent user experience.

The economies of scale the system provides reduces overall costs, and because only a simple software update rather than reprogramming is needed, the total cost of ownership is much lower. Based on the Cyviz solution architecture, Arup’s internal IT department is also able to manage a larger part of the support themselves, providing further savings.

The results have been outstanding. Users cite ease of use, including simple operation of the rooms, clear join button to initiate meetings and the consistency of the user experience, as well as the ability to see multiple content sources simultaneously as the main benefits.

Arup is now looking at rolling out Cyviz solutions throughout its offices globally.