Scotland's newest music and arts venue, Perth Concert Hall opened its doors in September last year, amid a flurry of public and media interest. It marks the beginning of a new cultural life in the city and an opportunity for the people of Perth and the surrounding area to indulge in the very best in music, drama, new media, comedy, family events and much more.
The plan to build the new concert hall was part of Perth's Millennium celebrations. The building is now situated on the once bustling Horsecross market area of the city, acting as a catalyst for impressive plans to transform Perth into one of Europe's most vibrant cities by 2010.
Therefore, the name of the new organisation Horsecross stems from that once bustling area, a friendly identity firmly rooted in the local area. Horsecross was keen to ensure that customer communication was a priority and that they could drive sales for all events. The organisation discussed this objective with Scotia UK plc, an audio visual reseller they were already working with on conference facilities. The solution that Scotia recommended was the Net Top Box from UK manufacturer ONELAN.
The ONELAN Net Top Box is a web based digital signage solution that gives great flexibility and is very simple to use. They took up Scotia's recommendation and the result was the installation of two Net Top Boxes linked to large display screens, which are used for informing customers of concerts and performances. The scrolling text section is used to promote shows that need additional support - as
people are standing in the box office queue they can see more details which might be of interest and encourage them to book.
However, the Horsecross team also saw an opportunity
to use the Net Top Box concept to spark the interest of people passing outside the building.
"Initially, we had both boxes installed at the box office area," explains David Smout, IT Administrator at Horsecross. "However, we saw there was great potential by moving one of the digital signs to the front of the concert hall. Our building is glass fronted and this will give us the opportunity to communicate with people walking past the building 24/7."
In addition, because the system is very easy to use, the responsibility for inputting the content doesn't only land with the IT administrator.
"Because of the ease of use, it wont take very long before the box office staff could take some responsibility for the digital signage content," adds David. "The format used is very familiar to anyone who uses Windows therefore the training needs for any member of staff to use the system is minimal."
More benefits have already been found with Onelan, in particular, with the Threshold artspace located in the foyer of the concert hall, this is also Scotland's first dedicated exhibition space for digital public art. Threshold also breaks new ground in the technological world ensuring that the concert hall is an intelligent building on a par with only a handful of other venues in Europe.
Using embedded projections, a wave of twenty two 40 inch LCD screens, sound and light displays, sensors and cameras, the Threshold artspace is run by a unique computer control system built by using 'open source' software available to other artists and exhibitors worldwide.
David adds: "Currently the scheduling of artwork is done manually but the Onelan system has led me to investigate automated scheduling for this facility, which would be a huge benefit."
Although the systems have only been running for a short period, Horsecross is confident that Scotia made a sound recommendation with Onelan.
"Feedback from staff and customers has been really positive," says David. "The Onelan solution allows us the flexibility to adapt and update its use as we need to in the future, so the investment now will not be wasted as our needs change. Fundamentally what the system delivers for us today is improved customer service - which has to be a key objective for any successful organisation."