About EUROCONTROL MUAC
The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, known as EUROCONTROL, is an international non-profit air navigation service provider. They have members in 41 countries and are headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, working with multiple stakeholders, including national bodies, airports, civil and military aviation authorities to ensure the safety of air traffic through Europe. The Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) operated by EUROCONTROL on behalf of four States: Belgium; Germany; Luxembourg; and The Netherlands. MUAC ensures the safe navigation of aircraft flying in the upper airspace over the Benelux and north-west Germany regions.
Pexip services used
Why video conferencing?
Working as a pan-European body, cooperating with many stakeholders and countries, maintaining strong communication is vital to day-to-day operations for MUAC. From coordinating with external partners, to planning upcoming events and projects, to weekly recurring meetings, videoconferencing helps their dispersed teams and projects to deliver.
Each week their teams might need to liaise with a government authority in the Netherlands, an external partner in Germany, or provide remote operational assistance to a team hundreds of kilometers away.
Why cloud video conferencing?
Transitioning From Managing Video to Managed Video
Implementing Pexip’s cloud video conferencing solutions was not MUAC’s first experience of a video conferencing deployment. They had already implemented a video conferencing infrastructure, managed in-house, and using dedicated Cisco hardware.
The old setup was creating friction points for their users. The infrastructure was not connected via an independent internet connection, instead relying on an older ISDN gateway. Not only could this cause bandwidth issues with heavy usage that could negatively impact in-call performance, but they were discovering that many of their partners didn’t actually have ISDN connectivity, only capability for IP connectivity.
Making the most of hardware infrastructure
MUAC had no external support contract for their existing infrastructure. A large operational responsibility fell to the VCS team in particular, the team needing to dedicate time and resources to managing it all. Also, if the hardware ever needed updating to fix small bugs for example, it could be quite costly to carry out for the VCS team.
Reducing IT Demands
A move to a cloud solution would help to address many of the problems the MUAC team staff was experiencing, in terms of connectivity and improving performance for end users, plus simplifying the workload for the responsible maintenance team. John Last is a voice communications engineer in the MUAC VCS team and he explains:
“In my team, our core business is managing operational voice communications of the center, so essentially the radio and telephony systems used for air traffic control. We ended up overseeing videoconferencing because there was a tendency that anything with audio/video to be thought of as generally belonging to the VCS team. So it fell to my team to run and maintain it for MUAC.”
Video conferencing wasn’t meant to be the primary focus of John’s team; time and effort used to maintain the video infrastructure was time that could be spent on other things close to their core objectives.
The advantage of moving to cloud-based videoconferencing was that John’s team could transfer the day-day-to running of the videoconferencing system to MUAC’s in-house facility management department. This department would assume ownership for daily handling of the videoconferencing systems, handling customer support and other operational requests. John’s team would then only need to be responsible for the technical management of the dedicated hardware.
"A move to a cloud solution would help to address many of the problems the MUAC team staff was experiencing, in terms of connectivity and improving performance for end users.“EUROCONTROL MUAC
As a public European organization, EUROCONTROL's procurement process is tightly regulated. The process requires them to consider the technical aspects of each solution before being able considering any financial factors. This helps to ensure they consider only solutions that really deliver the technical requirements and are truly fit for purpose. Financial assessments are then applied, before being factoring technical requirements again to give a value index for each solution.
In choosing Pexip’s proposal, there were a couple of other options with perhaps comparable technical profiles. However, they were not able to offer the same price level whilst meeting all the technical specifications, leaving Pexip as a clear winner.
After Roll-Out - Day to Day Impact
In addition to the facilities team being able to take over day-to-day responsibility for video conferencing, the team has been able to drastically cut down on service costs as they no longer have to maintain their own infrastructure, with savings potentially adding up to tens of thousands of Euros over the course of a year.
The company has multiple dedicated meeting rooms with Cisco video conferencing room systems connected to the Pexip network; all are in constant use throughout the day, every day, to host all types of internal and external meetings. Plus, team members can also easily join meetings from their own devices when working at home.
While video conferencing was not new to the organization, implementing a cloud solution did mean a few changes to user workflows in people invited guests and joined meetings. To make things easier, John and his team went for a very popular approach among companies with larger video solution. Each dedicated video system was allocated a dedicated virtual meeting room, so that the digital rooms would mirror the physical room layout, and simplify the process of joining a specific meeting.
And for one last inspired way to overcome user errors, John developed an incredibly simple, yet incredibly elegant approach. Since each video system had an attached TV screen, he created a screenshot image of the video system’s remote control and annotated it to indicate which button needed to be pressed on the remote control to join a meeting from the video system. He then saved this image as the background image for the TV screen in each meeting room.
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