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ICC Birmingham provides creative solutions for Jisc Digital Festival

The ICC Birmingham hosted the Jisc Digital Festival on the 11-12 March 2014, and has since agreed a three year deal to hold the event at the ICC.  Such was the success of the event, next year Jisc will take over the entire ICC venue to accommodate growing delegate numbers and to create an even bigger and better digital event.

Jisc is the UK's expert on digital technologies for education and research, in addition to four keynote addresses, the Digital Festival offered a wide selection of workshops, surgeries, panel discussions, expert speakers and live demonstrations of the latest education technology.

The ICC’s in-house technical team worked in partnership with Jisc to ensure that all of the event’s digital needs were met. The stage in the flagship Hall 1 auditorium was transformed using the ICC’s Dynamic Image Projection System to add extra dimension and depth to the stage set, and to create an additional layer which was splashed with Jisc’s branding. This system allowed the ICC technical team to project multiple sources simultaneously on to an extra-large screen. Content was projected in High Definition utilising the ICC’s HD projector. The ICC team also helped to facilitate a live conference link from one of Jisc’s keynote speakers presenting live from Calcutta.

Hall 3, the largest at the ICC, was used to create a purpose-built Technology Garden displaying some of the latest innovations in education and research through a series of drop-in live demonstrations and talks.  Hall 3 was also home to the festival’s ‘Hangout’ area for keynote speakers and expert presentations streamed live on the @JiscLive Twitter account. The event hashtag #digifest14 was used by the ICC, Jisc and event delegates to share tweets, photos, videos and other materials from the event. The live Twitter feed was also projected on to the ICC’s media wall in the registration area for the events 550 delegates.

The event also offered a hybrid solution – live video streams were available to watch online, and followers were kept up to date by the social media team live-tweeting all keynotes, workshops and expert speakers as well as highlights from the Technology Garden and images from around the site. Robert Haymon-Collins, Jisc’s executive director customer experience and one of the event’s online hosts said: “Whilst there’s no replacement for attending an event in person, our live streaming highlights, combined with delegate and speaker interviews, provide a great opportunity to take part in the Jisc Digital Festival. Being able to deliver the event through multiple online channels means that as many people as possible have the chance to discover the latest innovations in digital technologies for education and research.”

Grace Owen, events manager for Jisc said: “As the UK champion of the use of digital technology in UK education and research, the Jisc Digital Festival must reflect the highest level of IT available. We recognised that our demands on the ICC which included a live teleconference from India with leading professor of educational technology, Sugata Mitra, were very high but they were delivered faultlessly. There are few conference centres that offer the capacity and specification we needed and who can also deliver this level of technology excellence. We were very pleased with the service provided which supported an outstanding event.”

As well as the technological aspects of the event the ICC also organised a relaxed alternative to a Gala Dinner, aptly named ‘Digifeast’, with the in house catering team preparing dishes with a Birmingham Street Food theme.  The ICC team reinforced the festival vibe with floral arrangements in wellington boots decorating each table and fairy lights adorning the Hall. A ‘digital magician’ was on hand to provide the evening’s entertainment – perfectly in keeping with the rest of the event.

James Elston, sales director for the ICC said: “The Jisc Digital Festival demonstrates everything that the ICC prides itself on – creative solutions, innovation in our approach, and a team of in-house experts ready to rise to the challenge whatever our client’s requirements. We are delighted to have signed a three year deal with Jisc and look forward to working with them again next year to make their event even more successful.”

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