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Jisc Digifest: with LoLa and Janet

Name of event: Jisc Digifest 2018

Date: 3 March, 2018

No. of delegates: 900

The ICC Birmingham hosted the annual Jisc Digifest for the fifth time in March. This year the client proposed an ambitious plan to demonstrate the power of their network connection by co-ordinating orchestras to play in sync at different locations in the UK. Bristol-based not-for-profit education, research and digital resource provider, Jisc multimedia manager Ben Goodway explains how the ICC helped them achieve their vision:

We wanted to demonstrate the possibilities and power of our network connection – Janet – by opening our annual Edtech conference Digifest with a LoLa (low latency) performance. 

To demonstrate the power of LoLa and Janet we co-ordinated two sets of musicians – a 30-piece orchestra based at the ICC and a three-piece band in Scotland – to play together live in perfect synchronicity. It was a collaboration between Jisc, the Royal College of Music (RCM) and Edinburgh Napier University. 

On the day, the RCM orchestra was hidden behind a reveal screen on the Hall 1 stage. An opening film was projected onto the screen while the musicians began to play, the audience still unaware of their presence on the stage. The RCM orchestra was then revealed at a rehearsed time to show the music was being played live. Following this, a live projection of the musicians in Edinburgh was then revealed on the screen, showing both sets of musicians playing live – in perfect sync – to demonstrate the power of the network. This resulted in a multimedia network performance that truly stunned our delegates.

How was the meeting goal achieved? 

Janet had to be installed into the ICC network so a connection of at least 1gb could be achieved. The ICC were extremely accommodating with this, along with all the other complicated logistics of the event.  The Jisc and ICC IT teams had to work closely together so that the connection was installed and tested correctly. Some other venues may not have been so co-operative.


The biggest challenge was co-ordinating everyone. With so many people from different organisations working to pull this off we needed to make sure communication was strong between each team. 

Trying to explain something that had never been done to this scale before was difficult, particularly to those not familiar with the technology, and I think some didn’t quite understand until it all came together. But the result was perfect and everyone agreed it was worth it in the end. 


How did the ICC team make your event shine? 

This performance was all about the network’s capability, so we are extremely thankful the ICC worked with us to do that. Beyond the technical requirements, the team were fantastic. They were in at 6am on build day doing all they could to assist and help realise the vision we had for the performance.