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Subject:

Re: IT Provision

From:

David Dawson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Museums Computer Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 19 Jan 2007 15:41:44 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Good advice - but increasingly people will have their own wifi devices they could be using to access information from your website while they are in the gallery.

Is anyone using Wifi to enable public access now - either in galleries or in café / informal spaces?

D

David Dawson
Senior Policy Adviser (Digital Futures)
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
Victoria House, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4EA


-----Original Message-----
From: Museums Computer Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Joe Cutting
Sent: 19 January 2007 15:33
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: IT Provision


James,
 >>
Here in Bedford we are are currently looking at a major upgrade to severa= of our exhibition spaces. I have been asked to look at current and=20 possible future IT/technology needs for these exhibition spaces.=20 I wonder if any members with recent experience of planning for such space= pref in a museum/heritage environment (listed building) could reply off=20= list giving details of best practice and 'future proof' provision and=20 suggestions as to any pitfalls etc to be avoided.=20  >> Hmm, this is rather tricky - without knowing the specifics of your space and what you might be planning its very hard to make accurate provision. 
However here's a quick check list
you might like to think about.

- Electricity. You need to have adequate power sockets/cables around 
the building. Some institutions are fine
with just plugging things into wall sockets. In others they'll be 
unplugged or offend the exhibition designers in seconds - if this is 
the case you need underfloor sockets. You also need a timed switching 
system which lets you switch all the power on/off on a timer although 
its also a good idea to have a over ride and a "big red switch".

- Networking. While you're having cables put in you might as well put 
in Ethernet cables so things can be networked. Yes wireless 
networking is great but if your building has lots of metal (think 
iron columns) its a bit tricky to get right.  Your IT people will 
also be happier as they don't have to deal with the security issues 
of wireless networks.

- Sound levels. IT/AV exhibits tend to make sound or the people using 
them do. Its a good plan to
make sure that floors/walls are of a softer sound absorbing material 
rather than a hard sound reflecting one. Even if
you have direction speakers they don't work well with hard floors.

- Light levels. If you want to have projectors in your exhibit space 
you need to have some way of blocking all
direct natural light.

- Tech room / cupboard. Ideally you would also have a small room to 
the side of your exhibition which can house remote computers and spares.

- Conduit / False floor. If you were planning on installing a lot of 
IT in the future you would ideally have a false floor or conduit 
under the floor which would let you install cables at a later date. 
Given that you don't seem to have firm plans this is probably overkill.

Political preparation - these issues aren't directly connected to the 
space itself but tend to be much harder to
organise so you might as well think about them earlier.

- Maintenance staff. You need someone who takes responsibility for 
maintaining the exhibition IT. This really needs to happen before the 
IT is installed so they can make sure its all maintainable.

- Checking staff. You would also need someone to take responsibility 
for checking that its all working.

- Up to date desktop PCs. Most exhibition exhibits are designed to 
run on super fast new computers with big (19"+) screens and sound. If 
your staff all have pokey old machines with small screens and no 
speakers they won't be able to run any of the prototypes.

- Security access to see videos and flash. There's a lot of 
inspiration for IT exhibits out there on the web in the form of flash 
and video. If your IT department's security policy blocks this you 
need to get it changed.

That should do to get you started. If you want to give more details 
about your space/plans I can give more specific advice.

All the best

Joe

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