Group collaboration for BRICS


The 10th BRICS Summit themed “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution” – denoting the primary focus of the collaborative meeting between leaders of the world’s leading emerging economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, took place at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 25-27 July 2018. 

The high-profile event hosted Heads of State, Ministers and 2,500 international attendees from various countries and international media houses. The Summit took over the Centre’s venues with multiple events surrounding the main Summit meeting.

Sandton Convention Centre’s inhouse technical supplier, INHOUSE Venue Technical Management (IVTM), was heavily involved in the planning, logistics and delivery of the event under technical Director Philip Beardwood. Philip wrote the specifications for the technical suppliers, drew up the floor plans and technical schematics and collated costings. IVTM and Gearhouse South Africa provided the Lighting, Audio, Audio Visual, Rigging, Power, Structures, Sets and full network infrastructure. 

Overseeing client contact and delivery from an IVTM point of view at Sandton Convention Centre was onsite Venue Technical Manager, Lee Reynolds, who, together with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)’s Marcel Henderson, adapted the brief based on the International BRICS event in China in 2017 to suit the Sandton Convention Centre venues.

Supervising the teams’ matrices and scheduling framework for the events within the Bill Gallagher Room (Africa Outreach sessions), Ballrooms 1A and B (Open and Closed Plenaries respectively), Ballroom 2 (Family Photo) and 3 (Holding Room), Committee Room 4 (Monitoring) as well as Exhibition 2 (Press Room) was Eyal Yehezkely, who project managed the delivery via the various Gearhouse technical teams. 

Philip had worked with Marcel on other international conferences so there was already familiarity with the methodology required but there were a couple of ‘out of the ordinary’ challenges that needed to be resolved. Of course, on a high-profile event like this one, the pressures to deliver perfectly are extremely high and with the programme and spatial design remaining quite fluid due to the nature of the job, the team had to remain open to (and ready to effect) last minute venue and program changes without disrupting the schedules. “Venue changes happened due to increased numbers of delegates/guests attending “Africa Outreach” and due to the need for a secure and intimate press conference venue and Heads of States closed meeting” says Eyal. “We were able to accommodate the necessary changes without any issues.”

“The discussions are very sensitive, so the utmost discretion was required by the technical team. During the closed sessions when no crew were allowed in the room, we were only able to monitor and operate that room’s technology via a remote, control area” says Philip. “We also provided an extensive network of audio and video feeds from various meeting rooms distributed throughout the building which included multiple interpreted language channels. Our integration with the SABC was comprehensive, both in terms of sharing video sources and language channels.” 

Another unusual element was that the 2 main plenaries were required to be completely cable-free areas, so the team planned and pre-installed all cabling under two false floors; which were built and carpeted specifically to keep all cabling out of sight on this event. The level of detail in the planning and communication with multiple suppliers had to be exceptionally thorough as once the floors went in, there was little room to make changes.

“This aspect was the real technical challenge of the meeting for us” explains Philip “The multiple underfloor cabling requirements had to have full redundancy and the various systems needed to be fully integrated, which entailed linking the interpretation systems to the building-wide distribution network, and the video distribution and matrix of video/audio/language solutions provided. The use of Matrox video distribution and the use of Dante audio over ethernet was extensive and very useful.” 

“Communication, planning, calmness and flexibility were key to the success of this one” adds Philip. “And surrounding yourself with the best people in the industry, of course is the best plan. It was great to see the positive attitude from the Gearhouse/INHOUSE teams led by Eyal, the inter departmental co-operation and general good vibe and willingness to do the difficult and unusual.”

IVTM and Gearhouse also collaborated to provide the technical elements on other satellite BRICS events around the country, including the BRICS Young Scientist Forum ( 16 July at the Elangeni Hotel, Durban), the BRICS Media Forum (19th July at the Westin Grand Hotel, Cape Town), the BRICS Presidential Gala Dinner on 21st July and BRICS Business Conference on 22nd July (Durban International Convention Centre) and the BRICS Conference 2018 (25th July at the One and Only, Cape Town 25 July.)

Story Robyn D’Alessandro

Photo Clinton Seery

Aug 23, 2018

The Gearhouse Group of Companies