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Oslo metro digital signage sidesteps power shutoffs

Distributed digital signage within the Oslo metro system is no longer impacted by metro-run system tests that abruptly shut off the power, thanks to Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders.

Clear Channel Norway has installed Matrox Maevex H.264 encoders and decoders to deliver advertising content on 176 digital screens in three stations within the Oslo metro system. The distributed digital signage is no longer impacted by metro-run system tests that abruptly shut off the power.

Comprising six lines and 100 stations, the Oslo metro system is used by over 80 million travellers each year. While considered prime advertising real estate, the metro system presented several challenges for integrator Clear Channel Norway to deliver digital signage in three metro stations.

Clear Channel Norway was tasked with setting up a network to provide the content to 176 65in screens already installed in the digital stations across the Oslo metro system. The original set-up had the screens connected to PC players housed in machine rooms. Signals would be transmitted via HDMI extenders, but emergency power shutdowns for system tests would leave the screens blank even after the connections had been re-established, leading to lost advertising revenue.

“The environment and the operations were quite difficult for us to handle. We needed to find a different solution to transmit the signal from the player to the screens,” said Jonas Michael, head of digital development and operations at Clear Channel Norway.

A temporary fix involved having to regularly access the screens to reconfigure the HDMI extenders – a near-impossible undertaking given the screens were located in between tracks. As a result, Clear Channel Norway sought a stable, cost-effective solution that would not be impacted by abrupt disconnections, require on-site maintenance, or interfere with passengers and metro workers.

Maevex was the first choice for Clear Channel Norway, as the product specifications for its AV-over-IP devices met the requirement to distribute high-quality, up-to-1080p60 video and audio at low, user-defined bitrates.

Also at the heart of the new installation is the operations centre located at Clear Channel’s Oslo office, which oversees all operations across the entire network.

Connecting via a VPN, Clear Channel Norway uses Maevex PowerStream software to oversee and manage every Maevex encoder and decoder. The firm has also integrated two encoders at each station for redundancy, and can remotely switch to the second should any problems arise.

Content is created using Mermaid digital signage software and placed onto a PC media player in the operations centre. The Maevex AV-over-IP platform captures, encodes, and streams the signal for decode and display onto remote digital signage screens within each metro location.

The Maevex decoder’s built-in switch also meant a separate switch – to find the PC players at each station and communicate with and control the monitors – was no longer required. In this way, Maevex has dramatically reduced the number of players needed and, more importantly, the cost, both of which were huge benefits.

Now, when the power comes back on following a system test, the screens work right away without any issues, which is very important for an outdoor advertising company where display problems result in lost revenue. At the moment, the set-up is located in three stations, but work is being undertaken on expanding the network to an additional seven stations. According to Michael, the success of Maevex here is a huge accomplishment, but not a big surprise.

“We feel very strongly that the solutions Matrox produces cannot be compared to home office or consumer products and meet a high grade of industrial standard. Matrox products are built to last,” he said. “It was a no-brainer for us to select Matrox.”

Clear Channel Norway was so pleased with the results that Maevex, in a similar set-up, has already been integrated by the company on three Oslo Ferries vessels and is in the process of being installed in six airports across the country.

“The airport IT staff have already reported back saying, ‘Yes, this is what we have been waiting for,’ relayed Michael. “In every digital signage set-up it is a standard to have the PC just behind the screen. That is the normal way to do it. And Maevex is really a revolution, enabling us to remove it and place it elsewhere in our operations centre, away from the public. So, it’s a fantastic solution that we foresee using again in the future.”

Matrox Graphics
Clear Channel Norway