Virtual Guided Tours development

61/1-017 - Room D (CERN)

61/1-017 - Room D


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Agenda: 1) Overview of current virtual visit programmes: what is working; where we can improve (tour de table presentations) 2) Setting up a one-stop booking system (discussion) 3) Technical infrastructure needed: equipment and people (discussion) If anyone would like to present a couple of slides for point 1), please upload to this Indico. Please find below a general decription of the project (including the production of short VR clips for outreach use).


  • ATLAS (Claire):
    • Installed and paid a full system that is up and running
    • Would like to keep an ATLAS-specific channel, including branding and different entry-points for visitors (e.g. specific email)
    • Can currently accommodate max 8 visits per month
    • System is not overused and could be shared with others
    • Cohabitation between virtual visits and onsite visits; bottleneck is ATLAS visit point which is used for both
    • Need to address double booking issues as there is no crosstalk between CERN booking system and ATLAS Secretariat
    • Propose to train one person from the Visit Service and integrate in their system
    • Would like to integrate multiple sites in a visit (e.g. Globe, fresco, others)
    • ATLAS would be interested to have mobile cameras like CMS has but for external views (Globe, fresco)
    • Recordings of visits have variable quality, depending on the connection, the effort of post-production, and also on the choice of technology (ATLAS uses Vidyo)
  • CMS (Achille):
    • Shares slots with CERN Visit Service: CMS has its own booking system with Visit Service being made aware of extra slots. 
    • Would like to keep this setup as Virtual Visits have to be coordinated with Technical Coordination and would secure entry-point for CMS-linked visits (i.e. requested by CMS researchers/users)
    • Service cavern is accessible at all times which is a great plus, and therefore less clashes with normal visits
    • Equipment is functional but a "bricolage", so more standardisation would be welcome
    • CMS also use Vidyo
    • Multiple cameras (1 fixed, 1 mobile), therefore more Manpower needed, average 4 persons (2 per camera, includes 2 guides - one fixed, 1 roving)
    • Due to manpower requirements, CMS requires audience to be at least 50 people.
    • 6 visits per month on average
  • ALICE (Despina)
    • ALICE has made ad hoc virtual visits for years with laptops and iPads from the cavern when possible or from Control Room
    • Dozens of visits over the past years. Difficult to have precise stats, as not all requests reach outreach group. Rough estimate of 30-50 visits/year
    • Would appreciate support of CERN for booking, currently relies fully on secretariat. Would like to be part of a CERN-wide setup, of a CERN programme
    • ALICE is looking to develop Virtual Visits. When visitor centre is ready (in approx. one month), it will be a great help.
    • Experience during European Researcher Night with material lent by IT was very positive
    • The cost of the equipment (40k CHF) is a real obstacle. This includes webcams in the cavern.
    • There are privacy issues with filming with webcams.
  • LHCb (Antonis)
    • Have a few Virtual Visit per year, on and ad-hoc basis
    • Used significantly for the Masterclass sessions; these include a one-hour virtual visit
    • LHCb is quite accessible (near Velo etc) and when LHCb is not accessible they can go to Delphi underground but currently not considering a 2 guides option.
    • Standard Virtual Visit would start in the new control room
    • Recently equipped recently (2 cameras, predefined positions, etc). There are technical issues which frequently require support (no sound etc)
    • Would like to expand, are interested in a central booking system and becoming part of CERN programme
    • Open to have external guides (i.e. CERN guides, not necessarily LHCb)
  • Operational requirements (from Steve's presentation)
    • Important to support audiences which cannot come to CERN, especially through the network of collaborators of the collaborations
    • Main issues with current virtual visit setup are operational, in particular technical operations.
    • There is much interest from everyone in standardising operations part. This requires IT expertise.
    • IT preference (as explained by Thomas) is to go with remotely operable systems, as is current setup with videoconferencing across CERN.
    • There is interest in recording and editing some content, with different views on whether it should be all content, selected content and how it could be used.
  • Bulgaria's experience (Teodora)
    • Target audience: 12+, students, teachers, interested in science
    • Venues with 50+ people
    • 2000+ participants, 22 locations, 37 schools in 3 years
    • Use of personal equipment (smartphones)
    • Multiple locations: SM18, CMS, CCC, Ideasquare
    • Relies strongly on volunteers
    • Virtual rooms/Guides on remote sites for Q&A allowing many schools to participate to same event and still have a chance to ask questions.
    • Public webcast is publicised via dedicated website and social media, to reach as wide an audience as possible
    • Videos of the virtual visits are posted on YouTube. One of the videos has 2000+ views (posted in 2015)
    • Importance of dynamic visits (avoid single person talking for too long, different sites, etc) 
  • CERN Virtual Visits (François)
    • Visit Service is developing two types of virtual visits: guided virtual visits (subject of this meeting) and self-service virtual visits (based on virtual reality and 360 degree video technology)
      • Several scripts for 360 degree videos being prepared, to include LHC experiments, data centre, CCC, etc
      • Could complement guided virtual visits (e.g. when visits to caverns not possible)
    • Have identified following limitations in guided virtual visits: dealing with requests (separate booking systems), resources (people, time), trained guides, languages offered.
    • Proposal is to work on: integrate Guided Virtual Tours in standard offer; train current guides to help with these visits; integrate request in single booking system; develop new sites for virtual tour sites (Data Centre, etc)
  • Proposal to set up 4 working groups (Ana)
    • 1. Booking System (lead by François). Some of the issues to address are (not an exhaustive list):
      • Integration/Crosstalk between Visit Service booking system and those of the experiments (namely ATLAS and CMS)
      • Entry points for visitors, to make clear which experiment is hosting the visit. Ties into "branding"
      • Try to integrate requests from and visits initiated by experiments communities, to ensure data is collected for statistics, evaluation, etc
    • 2. Technical requirements (lead by Thomas). Some of the issues to address are (not an exhaustive list):
      • Remotely-operated systems, with support from IT when problems arise
      • Or dedicated technical support. 
    • 3. Guide's training and Format of the visits (Lead by Dominique)
    • 4. Recording and Evaluation (lead by Ana). Some of the issues to address are (not an exhaustive list):
      • Options: bulk recording of all visits or selected recording
      • Make all recording available on CDS (after editing. Resources needed) or upon request (e.g. to teachers wanting to review the visit; or to guides wanting to include them in CV)
      • Use recording for guide's training: case studies
      • Evaluation: by visitors, by guides.
  • Next steps:
    • Participants in the meeting are asked to say which working group(s) they would like to take part in or nominate someone for the group
    • Working groups meet to discuss and move forward on specific topics
    • New meeting soon, to bring topics together and decide next steps. 
There are minutes attached to this event. Show them.
    • 9:00 AM 9:20 AM
      Tour de Table 20m
    • 9:20 AM 9:40 AM
      One-Stop Booking System 20m
    • 9:40 AM 10:00 AM
      Technical Infrastructure 20m