Helsinki City Council
Audico did a precision job installing new panels on the councillors' desks in the Helsinki City Council chamber to run the meeting application system.
On Aleksanterinkatu Street, on the edge of the Senate Square in Helsinki. We enter the old and labyrinthine corridors of the Bock building, where the different political groups of the Helsinki City Council have their own meeting rooms. Along the walkway are dozens of portrait paintings of past and present presidents of the council groups and the council as a whole.
Finally, deep in the heart of the block, we move from the Bock building to the new building and arrive at the council chamber, the main headquarters of the city council. Lauri Menna, Senior Expert and Secretary of the City Council, has promised to show us around.
The 85 members of the City Council meet here every other Wednesday, usually at 6 p.m. The City Council is the highest decision-making body in Helsinki. Elected by municipal elections every four years, it is responsible for the city's operations and finances.
Built thirty years ago, the new side with its council chambers does not look particularly solemn after the old side, but clearly functional and functional. In the hall, Lauri Menna presses a button and the protective strips in the ceiling roll noisily aside, letting in light through the skylights. Juhana Blomstedt's wooden sea, which fills the wall on the right, comes to life in daylight.
Menna shows us the technical upgrade that Audico made to the hall's meeting software system and AV equipment.
"The voting panels, which were almost ten years old, were replaced so that more space for technology was now sawed into the original councillors' meeting tables. Audico custom-made the new panels, which feature three voting buttons, presence and speech buttons, and a larger touchscreen and microphone than before. At the same time, the power supply for the panels was converted to PoE-based. Delegates also get power from the panels to their phones and laptops," says Lauri Menna, while showing a huge screen on the back wall where delegates can also follow the proceedings.
The recent renovation of the Parliament Chamber was a step up in scale for Audico, but it was no small job to give the City Council Chamber a facelift in technical terms.
Panels were installed at each councillor's desk, 85 in all. In addition, there are a further twenty or so panels, with minor modifications, tailored to the mayor's office, the mayor's secretary, the chairman, the officials, the translator and the minute-taker. The technical staff of the building also have a few spare and test pieces in stock in case one of the panels should break down.
Lauri Menna explains that the City Council usually meets in the Council Chamber every other Wednesday at 6 pm, about 21 times a year. The different political groups meet in their respective group rooms in Bock House before the session. Councillors can also move around the building during meetings, for example taking breaks in the adjoining cafeteria.
"The shortest meeting this term has lasted seven minutes, but sometimes we sit for half the next day. If there are bigger issues to discuss, such as the budget, the meeting might start a couple of hours earlier in the afternoon," says Menna.
Council meetings are open to the public, which can watch from the public gallery in the chamber. All sessions are also videoed in a modern way, so they can be watched and listened to live online or afterwards at your convenience (the sessions can be found online at www.helsinkikanava.fi).
As he escorts us out of the building, Lauri Menna introduces us to the other premises in the so-called "town hall" or "Lion's Quarter". We see, for example, the magnificent ballroom of the former Hotel Seurahuone, which is now the ballroom of Helsinki City Hall.
It is the only place in the City Hall that has been preserved in its 19th century style. This was the home hall of the Helsinki Orchestra Association, now the Helsinki City Orchestra, at the turn of the century and many of Sibelius's works were premiered here.
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