University of Plymouth - SoSC Crime Simulation Lab


AVoIP network

Iiyama displays

Extron control

WolfVision visualiser

Lumens IP cameras

Audac speakers

Shure microphones


featured in AV magazineBuilt on top of the site of the biggest civilian loss of life in Plymouth during the Second World War, the Portland Square Building is home to some of the University of Plymouth’s most forward-thinking schools including the new School of Society and Culture.

Continuing a long and successful ongoing relationship with the University, GVAV were appointed to design and deliver audio visual installations within the SOSC Crime Simulation Lab across four new linked rooms within the Portland Square Building in 2022.

The refitted office spaces include a customisable crime scene inside a mock-up one-bed apartment, as well as two interview rooms joined with observation rooms and a seminar room.

This space will become an innovative and pivotal part of the University’s Policing and Forensic Criminology courses, further contributing to the appeal for prospective new students and adding real value to those already studying.

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A dynamic installation

Not only would this space facilitate practical training, but it also needed to act as a learning space in its own right – the seminar room would double up as a classroom/observation room with staff having full control over all cameras, microphones and displays within the system.

The client’s requirements for this ambitious and exciting project meant that each room needed to be connected via a sophisticated network with video and sound capture as well as recording capabilities, meaning the right technology had to be meticulously planned and well-executed.

Despite completion being initially scheduled for September 2022, global supply chain volatility meant that lead times on kit pushed the project back to the end of the year. This extra time was used to work with the client to further refine the design and detailed proposals. This ensured all key stakeholders understood the project approach and its benefits.

While the electrical and cosmetic contracting work could get underway over the summer as planned, the University were able to utilise another space for their students to allow the AV install to go ahead between October and December.

This GVAV installation was headed up by Technical Project Manager Darren Nutt alongside Lewis Todd and Iain Morrow.

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The focal point of this impressive new space is room A222, the Crime Simulation Lab. Consisting of an open-plan kitchen and living area as well as a bedroom and bathroom, this area allows students to dive into an immersive training experience within a realistic apartment environment. The rooms are filled with prop furniture and mannequins, allowing staff to set up the space to meet their flexible requirements and simulate different crime-scene scenarios.

This complex project required students and staff to be able to monitor all areas of the mock apartment and interview rooms from the seminar and observation rooms. For a project like this, having the right kit and systems in place was essential both in terms of usability and compatibility. This was at the forefront of the planning and design stage from the outset.

A seamless solution

For video capture, 10 Lumens PTZ IP cameras are fitted across the suite. These cameras were the perfect selection for the requirements of this project due to their 4K capability, pan, tilt and zoom functions, giving University staff full control of the output.

Lumens Compact Camera Controllers are designed for seamless compatibility with up to 250 IP cameras, and three of these were installed across the network to work in partnership with the Lumens PTZs. Staff and students are able to intuitively switch to and control any camera on the system from the seminar room or either observation room using these controllers

Audio in the lab is captured by five Audio-Technica ES945O/XLR omnidirectional microphones integrated into the ceiling, with talkback into the lab possible from the other rooms via Audac CALI660 ceiling speakers.

For the seminar room, a Gooseneck Shure microphone and more Audac ceiling speakers ensure the presenter is heard, while two JBL Control 25-1 speakers accompany the room’s three displays with high quality audio.

In the interview rooms, the impressive Shure MXA310 Microflex Table Array Microphone captures audio across four independent channels and polar patterns, meaning mic coverage can be customised depending on the seating arrangement and the number of people talking.

Simulating real-life police interrogation rooms, this technology integrates neatly into a Top-Tec Synergy Collaborative table alongside power options for other devices. An Iiyama 43” display is mounted as well as an integrated Extron touch panel for comprehensive input and output options. All of the audio visual technology in the interview rooms is neatly built into the Synergy table design for a clean finish with no loose-hanging, messy cables.

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Built today, for tomorrow

The flexible connectivity options throughout the suite are smartly facilitated by an AV over IP (AVoIP) system cleverly designed and implemented by GVAV, seamlessly connecting all devices in each room on a fast, efficient and secure network. AVoIP is the backbone of this project and future-proofs the solution, allowing for potential future scalability and new features without the need to replace the whole system.

In line with other installations across the University, the client was keen to use Extron kit within the AVoIP system where possible. This would benefit the project both in terms of continuity with other spaces as well as minimising extra staff training.

The original recommendation was to separate the client’s network from the AV network in order to avoid running into potential issues with the bandwidth demands of the AVoIP solution. However, the University were eager to use their existing network and switches and were confident about their traffic handling and port capacity. Once this was modelled with Extron and confirmed that the existing network spec had been tested and was capable of running the AVoIP system smoothly, all parties were happy to proceed with the proposal.

During the installation and commissioning of the AVoIP system, GVAV worked closely with the University’s IT department to configure the network switches to the configuration associated with setting up this type of network. It was important to ensure that all Extron AVoIP encoders and decoders needed to be connected on the same network switch to eliminate bandwidth issues, preventing issues like poor video quality.

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The perfect view for everyone

The network connects three large displays in the seminar room for observation and presentation purposes.

Students are able to sit and observe their colleagues in this spacious room with three wall-mounted Iiyama displays comprising two 55” displays and a huge 86” interactive touchscreen display.

The large screens were chosen and mounted at a height to ensure everybody has a perfect view.

University staff members have full control of what is shown on each display in the seminar room through the Extron control panel built into a Top-Tec lectern.

The lectern, which is customised with the University’s logo, is also home to a WolfVision 4K Visualiser, Iiyama and Lenovo displays and a Lumens Compact Camera Controller. A ceiling-mounted Marshall CV506 Mini Broadcast Camera captures the room for those joining the seminar remotely.

As well as video capture and projection over displays within the suite, another important requirement of this project was the ability to record all content.

This is facilitated by 10 Matrox Maevex 6020 Remote Recorders, allowing multiple video and audio input sources to be securely recorded simultaneously. The Matrox system gives University staff uncomplicated and convenient access to footage at their fingertips, allowing them to look back at the material for analysis.

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A successful project

While the requirements for this project were unique and complex, the strength of knowledge and experience within GVAV meant that solutions were agreed upon and obstacles were overcome in the planning stage. The team worked closely with parties across the University as well as external contractors to deliver an outstanding final product within a state-of-the-art facility. This complex project could not have been a success without effective communication from all parties at every level.

The new audio visual installation within the School of Society and Culture will serve the University’s students for many years to come and solidify Plymouth University’s standing as a world leader in higher education.

“These digital crime simulation facilities allow us to provide our students with an education at the frontiers of the field. They will help ensure our Criminology and Policing students graduate with cutting edge experience and knowledge that sets them apart in the job market”

Dr Ed Braund

Deputy Head of School