The COP26 Summit united 197 parties from around the world to accelerate action towards meeting the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention (UNFCCC) on climate change. NEP Group, the leading media technology partner for content creators around the globe, supported long-term partner Identity, the agency of choice to deliver the COP26 Summit, which took place 31st October – 13th November 2021 in Glasgow. With the world’s attention focused on COP26, millions of people around the globe eagerly were looking for a way to watch, join the conversation and feel part of the action. COP26 is regarded as one of the most critical climate change events of our time as world leaders reached a new global agreement, the Glasgow Climate Pact.
Having worked closely with Identity in delivering the visual technologies and broadcast feeds for the G7 summit, NEP was positioned to understand how best to support and deliver a project of this magnitude. Combining its global technology solutions and expertise, NEP group can support Government events of this scale and calibre. NEP Bow Tie spent over 18 months supporting Identity in project managing the end-to-end solutions and broadcast delivery, collaborating with other divisions of NEP to deploy a wide range of live events and broadcast solutions. This support included NEP Bow Tie (specialist project management expertise), NEP UK and Ireland (broadcast and transmission), NEP Connect (connectivity) and Creative Technology (live events solutions). This unified approach across NEP’s global production ecosystem provided ease of communication and collaboration in providing a seamless end-to-end solution to support Identity’s production of an event and broadcast of such scale and complexity.
Anna McInerney, Media & Broadcast Director, COP26, says, “Working with NEP Group in the planning and delivery of COP26 Broadcast Services should be considered a blueprint for collaborative and innovative agency-supplier operations. Agile and responsive to change, the team from NEP not only delivered on the initial brief but could always be relied upon to find solutions to inevitable last-minute changes in scope. The team’s meticulous planning resulted in a comprehensive and robust Host Broadcast technical solution across the event sites, supported by the beating heart of the MCR (Master Control Room) servicing broadcast clients in the International Media Centre, 24 hours a day.”
Mark Bannister, Technical & Operations Director, COP26 said “Creative Technology were the ideal partner to work with in the delivery of all video across the many meeting and negotiation rooms of COP26. Working collaboratively with the Identity team to deal at pace, with the constantly evolving requirements and schedules the CT team delivered flawlessly to help make COP26 a true success.”
COP26 was a true collaboration, featuring live events, production and broadcast teams uniting to deliver daily live coverage of discussions, negotiations, and accomplishments. NEP collectively adapted throughout the event, supporting Identity by responding to changes in the schedule ensuring full coverage of planned and additional requirements. It was said, that walking around COP26 surrounded by representatives of every nation all there for one purpose, provided an immense feeling of pride for industry professionals who were there to support the delivery of such a momentous event.
Sustainability and climate action were at the heart of the discussions, which was reflected in NEP’s overall commitment to providing a sustainable production and broadcast from Glasgow. With a huge focus on the outcomes from COP, it was important for the team to do their part in showing more sustainable ways of working with regards the technologies, the deployment and integration of hardware and personnel.
Identity had a dedicated team focused on delivering COP26 as the most sustainable one to date to achieve ISO 2021 accreditation. The project employed many local freelance creatives, and crew were encouraged to use public transport to the event site to reduce their carbon footprint. Identity provided electric shuttle buses on site, and water flasks and reusable cups were provided to team members. Event Cycle worked in collaboration with Identity and NEP Group to ensure that anything used in the production of the event was then repurposed. KB trucking also used HVO fuel to reduce emissions, and to accurately measure carbon emissions, a sustainability tracker was used in collaboration with Identity to accurately track the production and event’s carbon footprint.
Details of NEP’s support include:
Creative Technology (CT) and NEP Group were on-site from the middle of October, having taken on the complex logistical challenge of delivering a huge quantity of kit across the Scottish Exhibition Campus. 70 CT crew members were in Glasgow delivering the project, including 5 project managers who were on-site for the duration of the event. With strict security measures in place, any changes or maintenance required on-site had to be managed and resolved by the crew requiring dedicated and flexible working. The Media Centre and Press Conference were operational 24 hours a day with coverage to over 200 displays. 350 IPTV boxes and 450 displays were in use across the site, with CT managing the displays throughout various hallways and viewers controlling their own displays via remote control in the IPTV Room.
NEP UK provided an IP-based routing system and support equipment with nodes for all the Plenary Chambers and areas as part of the host broadcast solution. 31 HD cameras together with 6 vision mixer gallery set ups were used in the 5 real and 1 virtual control rooms in the on-site media centre. Comprehensive audio and talkback matrices were also provided to facilitate the provision of the broadcast backbone for the world-wide distribution of signals.
NEP Ireland provided the EVS and File Publishing expertise, masterminding the Media Management and Archiving as well as transcoding and handing off media files to international broadcasting organisations. The level of international interest meant that the amount of material distributed was the largest at any COP so far.
NEP Connect provided a state-of-the-art satellite uplink truck with dedicated, highly skilled broadcast engineers. 3 satellite channels were provided on a 24/7 basis for the opening of the Summit, backed up by 3 channels of LiveU to ensure transmissions were guaranteed to take place with little or short notice and at any time of the day or night. All feeds were delivered into the NEPC Network Operations Centre at MediaCityUK which then passed all signals to the BT Tower for collection from multiple broadcasters around the world.
Martin Swain, Head of Engineering and Technical Projects for NEP Bow Tie, said, “On-the-ground, there was a buzz about the place as people were excited and proud to be involved in delivering COP26 and feel part of something special. We have been working with Identity to build a relationship built on mutual trust and technical brilliance, so that they knew we would deliver to an exceptional standard and care”.
Mick Jones, Project Director at Creative Technology commented, “There are very few events where the world is watching but COP26 falls into this category. Everyone understood the importance of the event, from the very beginning of the pitch process through to delivery onsite. Production through to suppliers and staff all worked as one and this was the key to its success, showing how an event of this scale can be delivered seamlessly in the middle of a global pandemic whilst also maintaining a sustainable environmental impact that aligned with the message COP26 was intended for.
It was a pleasure to work with Identity Group, the CT team as well as all the different suppliers that were involved, some long standing and others in their infancy who all approached this project with the same level of professionalism and friendship as the events industry always does regularly.”
With the attention of the world upon COP26 and its world leaders to tackle the climate crisis. NEP Group provided its technology and expertise to amplify the messages, dialogues, and subsequent agreements back to the world. Everyone who was part of delivering COP26, a monumental event for the world, felt like they were part of something truly historical and special. COP26 was not just a monumental event for the world, but also one for the technology production teams who supported Identity in delivering such a monumental event. It remains now for us all to continue to work together in collaboration to deliver upon the promises made at COP26 into 2022, and beyond.
Image credit: Graham Carlow