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Belfast Waterfront centre equipped with state of the art network

Belfast City Council has refitted its Waterfront conference and entertainment venue with new smart building connectivity to enhance the staff and visitor experience

Belfast’s Waterfront conference and entertainment venue is now equipped with high-performance wired and wireless networks, including a distributed antenna system (DAS) to boost indoor 3G and 4G coverage inside the centre, following a major overhaul conducted by NG Bailey’s IT services unit, KNI.

Venue owner Belfast City Council splashed out £1.2m on the infrastructure contract to enhance connectivity, security and safety at the newly expanded centre, including 400km of structured cabling – consisting of 155km of Cat 6a copper connected to a 250km blown fibre backbone, and specialist audiovisual (AV) cabling to support performance equipment and digital signage.

“The Waterfront Hall was built nearly 20 years ago and has been an important catalyst for Belfast’s transformation and growth,” said Alan Reilly, ICT manager at Belfast Waterfront.

“We saw an exciting opportunity to both extend and upgrade the venue to create a world-class smart conferencing venue. A fundamental driver of our success has been the creation of a world-class communications infrastructure, AV facilities and a highly secure and safe environment,” he said.

The council’s primary goal was to enhance the user experience by enabling exhibitors, staff and visitors to use fast and reliable wireless and wired networks. It put the provision of new high-density wireless network – capable of supporting superfast downloads to 6,000 devices simultaneously – at the heart of its plans.

The additional installation of DAS antennae, enabling direct access for mobile operators to enhance in-building availability of 3G and 4G services, means those who choose not to use the Wi-Fi are still assured they can receive a network signal.

At the same time, a captive portal is able to support the Waterfront’s analysis of profiling data to enhance targeted marketing and the overall experience, while network failover and data replication were also built in at the start.

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With the Waterfront having played host to high-profile events and world-famous personalities, including more than one US president, over the years, venue security was also high on the agenda, so the network is also set up to manage next-generation security measures.

These include 150 IP-CCTV cameras, video management software, power over Ethernet (PoE) access control systems at 100 doors, and an IP-converged alarm system, all controlled and coordinated centrally, and supported by a property-wide uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system.

Marcel McAlinden, business solutions manager at KNI said: “We are extremely pleased to have been involved in transforming this landmark venue into a world-class conference and entertainment facility.

“Our teams worked tirelessly to accommodate a time-critical build schedule and integrated cutting edge network technologies with an already complex technical installation. The end result is easily worth it, however, as the building’s users now have a truly world class user experience.”

“We have been hugely impressed by the quality and speed of the connectivity now at our disposal and the feedback from our customers has been terrific,” said Reilly. “The security systems have also helped us to set Waterfront apart; our clients are increasingly looking for assurances about security when choosing a conference venue, the solution provides a valuable differentiator and competitive advantage that is helping us win business.”

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