High Stakes — AV.technology
Tabcorp goes all-in with the AV fitout of its new HQ, including three highly flexible video walls.
Text:/ Christopher Holder
Images:/ Converged Technology
Tabcorp is an ASX50 company that recently moved its Melbourne headquarters to five floors of a Collins Street address in Docklands.
Tabcorp and Tatts Group combined in December last year and now have the largest retail footprint in Australia. Integrating the two businesses has created many opportunities for the combined group, including the opportunity to customise the new Melbourne office with state-of-the-art AV technology.
STONE AGE TO SPACE AGE
Taking care of all the commercial AV heavy lifting was Converged Technology.
Tabcorp’s previous Melbourne office was starting to show its age and as the company began to grow, there was a need to relocate. The new Collins Square address encourages flexible working and collaboration with more than 50 custom-designed meeting spaces (such as that picutred opposite). The new office is open plan with agile working spaces, VC rooms and user-experience tech spaces.
The big move also allowed Tabcorp to revisit functionality, layout and capabilities of its wagering and operations centre. From an AV perspective the most noticeable manifestation are three high-performance video walls.
DAY AT THE RACES
Tabcorp’s Raceday control room (pictured above) is the operational wagering hub, controlling parimutuel (tote) wagering across thoroughbred, harness and greyhound races. In 2017, Raceday controlled more than 125,000 domestic and international races.
This involves monitoring and disseminating all racing information for up to 60 race meetings daily. The team’s primary focus is to uphold the integrity of each race controlled, by stopping betting at the exact moment the race commences, then paying out on the correct numbers as declared by relevant governing racing bodies (stewards). Sounds easy but the implications for getting it wrong are astronomical. In the rare instance a race is not closed at the commencement of the race or the result is paid out on the incorrect numbers, the team is in breach of the company’s licence and must declare this as a Significant Event to the relevant regulators.
Converged Technology (partnering with IComm and Telstra) designed and implemented a comprehensive video wall solution for Tabcorp that would service the specific needs of each of three different teams. The system would be mission critical, support 24×7 runtime, be IPTV capable, have audio capabilities, support a large number of different graphical layouts and user-driven configurations, yet remain easy to use and accessible to all members of the various teams.
A custom Crestron control system featuring a professionally designed user interface optimised for a 22-inch touch panel was installed into each of the three areas, ensuring that staff had immediate access to the content they required.
Converged Technology: 1300 032 751 or www.convergedtechnology.com.au
The room has 18 workstations for raceday controllers to watch and listen to individual races.
When the race is complete, raceday employees stay tuned, ensuring results given by the caller and stewards are aligned to the results they witnessed. They then await the ‘correct weight’ announcement before paying out.
Each workstation has four display monitors and controllers can select the source for each screen. An audio source selector and level unit allow the operator to hear audio for each of the sources via baby Genelec powered speakers on the desk.
At the rear of the room, senior Raceday team members pay attention to the big picture. A 4×2 46-inch Samsung video wall shows Sky 1 and Sky 2 race meet video along with sources from Tabcorp’s IPTV sources. These might include raw footage from the race meetings.
The senior Raceday employees on the podium level at the back of the room will have their eyes and ears on high alert for all relevant meeting information; from late scratchings (where horses are withdrawn from a race), track and weather changes, protests, delays and rider/driver changes and updates. They have direct contact with the race stewards when they need additional information.
Powered by a Datapath video wall processor, the 4×2 video wall has been a revelation. The new AV fitout has simplified the way they communicate and receive information.
In action, on a busy Friday evening, Raceday is a little like the bull pen of a stock exchange. A lot of chatter, a nose-to-tail race schedule, and a lot of matters to nail quickly and efficiently. It’s a place where conveying concise and accurate information clearly and quickly is essential.
MANY EYES OF SYSOPS
In the System Operations room, a 5×2 Datapath-powered video wall (pictured overleaf) displays Tabcorp’s digital and online wagering activity. The screens display dashboards, Sky Racing, Keno and wagering results, which are constantly monitored.
The highly flexible video wall has the capacity to display as many as 30 different sources. One Samsung 46-inch panel can display two or four separate sources, or one image can be cast across four screens (see the control screen layout, left).
CONTROL & COMMAND
The third video wall is in the Command Centre, which is used for incident management when critical IT and wagering infrastructure isn’t functioning correctly. This video wall was designed to provide response teams with immediate access to monitoring dashboards and real-time data analytics. A 3×2 Samsung 55-inch video wall connected to the same Datapath backbone, allows Tabcorp staff to quickly identify and triage core systems.
HOW IT ALL WORKS
The brains of the video wall operation is a powerful Datapath processor in a centralised equipment rack.
The Datapath server takes a combination of capture and graphics cards that best serve the needs of the project.
Having a centralised server, as opposed to one video wall processor per room, met the client’s brief, whereby any source can be sent to any of the three walls. In fact, when you include the 22-inch Crestron touch panel in each room (which can preview any source), you’re talking about six separate destinations.
Along with Sky TV and PC feeds, the server handles over 100 channels of in-house IPTV. Three SQX decode cards take the IPTV feeds. BrightSign media players take the IPTV feed then split the audio from the video signal destined for the Crestron DSP.
The arrangement ensures Tabcorp employees always have the right audio when they need it. Plus, it means the SysOps wall (which generally has a large portion devoted to a race feed) will have the audio following video — switch to Race 4 at Dapto and the audio comes along for the ride. Having audio so integral is unusual for a command and control room scenario, and required some problem solving.
The excellent AV solution provided by Converged Technology has enabled Tabcorp to continue delivering and plays a pivotal role.
Australian Distributor (Datapath): 1300 666 099 or midwich.com.au
KNOW YOUR TOTE
Parimutuel betting or the Tote or totalisator system: is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and the ‘house-take’ are removed, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all winning bets.
Fixed Odds Betting: A systems where you place a bet a certain, known, odds. In this system you know the return you’ll be getting once you place the bet.