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Metro Toronto Convention Center signs up for LCD monitors

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Challenge: The Metro Toronto Convention Center (MTCC) is Canada's largest convention and trade show facility, with more than 600,000 square feet of exhibit space and 64 meeting rooms in two buildings. Each year, the MTTC hosts more than 700 events and has more than 3 million visitors pass through.

"Convention centers by nature are big buildings, and they are often complex buildings," said Bill McDonald, director of technology services at MTCC. "Way-finding in a convention center is a challenge," he added. The convention center had been using LED (light emitting diode) display signs around the facility to help visitors find their way and provide event information. However, McDonald said, the signs were about 8 years old and were limited in the number of characters that could fit on each row. He admits that LED technology today is a lot better than it was eight years ago, but the time was right to move to LCD (liquid crystal display) technology.

Solution: The convention center sent out an RFP to sign vendors and system integrators, and it decided to go with 46-inch LCD monitors from NEC Display Solutions.

"We ended up picking the NEC product because of quality and durability," McDonald said. The LCD monitors provide text, audio and video that can be updated in real time, using software from Omnivex Corp. The MTTC set up 19 monitors in 11 locations throughout the facility, providing event locations and additional information, including corporate logos and a temperature feed. At a recent dinner reception for United Way, which was holding an event at the convention center, one of the monitors was used to run a United Way promotional video. McDonald said he plans to set up an NEC display on a mobile cart that can be rolled around to special events, using the Wi-Fi wireless network to access content.

Results: The NEC monitors have been a success, McDonald said. "We have gotten good feedback from surveys and anecdotally," he said. "People have made comments, and they stop and look at the signs." While the primary purpose is providing directions, the MTTC also plans to explore new uses for the monitors such as advertising and special promotions.

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