The Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre is in the process of updating itself. Still billed as “the largest enclosed space in the Southern Hemisphere,” the 322,500-square-foot, single-floor, pillarless exhibition hall and adjoining 50-room convention hall (including the 1,500-seat John Batman Theatre) now offers live webcasting service. Working with Melbourne-based Isis Communications, Ltd., the MECC has dedicated streaming video service for broadcasting events at the Centre over the Web or bringing in speakers from remote locations. Most of the meeting rooms are equipped with built-in screens, electronic white boards, and complete data and signal cabling for data transfer and networked presentations.

On the Convention Centre's fourth level, under the Bellarine Banquet Hall, which seats up to 2,500 classroom-style, a series of large-diameter conduits have been installed beneath the floor slab, linking all existing cable trenches. Direct cable runs are possible from north to south, and additional cable routes have been incorporated in the East wall.

New Web Site

The MECC will also roll out a completely redesigned Web site February 19 when it hosts the 10th annual Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo. The rollout will occur in two phases. The first will be a general front-end redesign offering improved navigation, with more information available, including detailed floor plans, event listings, and food and beverage information. According to Petrina Gillespie, director of sales and marketing, the new site will also have an extensive database engine on the back end, to give quick access to information. A virtual tour “will provide an exact representation of what to expect,” she says.

Phase two of the rollout will add extranet and intranet capabilities, incorporating e-commerce and online booking forms, and will include the Isis streaming video service.

The Web development work is being done by Morpheum, a Melbourne-based firm. “The combination of front-end design with the implementation of a back-end administration system will enable the MECC to substantially increase the speed to market of new information and products,” says Matt Harris, Morpheum's director.

The MECC has voice and data cabling, ISDN and Internet connection capabilities, and a 750-extension PABX system. The Exhibition Hall's floor pits each have six voice/data jacks that connect to a 10BaseT Ethernet network, ISDN digital phone service, and the Web broadcasting service. The pits are distributed throughout the hall on an approximately 20-by-30-foot grid.