Park Across America


Park Across America

I had no idea the complexity of holding an event in four cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle) simultaneously. When you describe it it sounds pretty easy — connect all locations through the ‘net — have CCTV in each so folks at each sites can see and hear what’s going on at the others. After all NBC and Fox News do it every day.

What I didn’t understand is that the networks have a hundred people behind the scenes so Matt Lauer can be in Timbuktu and Meredith Vierera can talk to him like he was next door.   And there are only two of them.

I have not been involved in the planning. I went with my strength and left it entirely up to son Andy. I noticed that he has been disappearing for hour and sometimes even days. When I ask, he says "Park Across America".  Now I know what he was doing. There were at least four people in each city (none of each group had even met the other groups) plus a "bridge" operation in Ventura California that was the technical collector of the images and voices and then replayed them out to the appropriate cities. There were endless teleconferences, meetings, and emails.

The result — awe inspiring — at least from my point of view.  The fact that it worked at all blows my mind, and the fact that it worked with only a few hiccups means he did his job well.

Ok — it was hard to read some of the Powerpoint slides in San Francisco, but we were prepared with backup (each city had complete files of each presentation) so the powerpoint could be  generated locally.  The problem wasn’t actually the technology, it was the presentation itself. When you put a full page of 10 point text on a screen its difficult enough to read locally, and impossible to read 2500 miles away.  Remember that you presenters. Putting your entire speech on the screen is useless.

Timing is difficult when you have a three hour time difference. In the future — we will take that in to consideration and have cities in closer time zones. It was 11 am in New York before we could present a show in Seattle, and the New Yorkers were gone home three hours before the final gavel in California. Some presentations had to be recorded (for playing in different time zones) and this left some of the spontaneity lagging.

But all in all, the event was a success, people got information from the most knowledgeable folks in the industry, and our goal of bringing information about parking to individual cities so attendees could get the facts quickly, and on a small budget was met.

The minor glitches were seen mostly by our staff, and from the first reviews, the critics were "wowed".

I typically don’t credit staff members as they do a sterling job out of the blocks. However this was a bit different and I want to single out Andy (yes in full disclosure his full name is Andy Van Horn, my son) who did a fantastic job pulling this all together. Of course Marcy, Pat, Jan, Dawn, plus Laura and Francine (and Sandra and Sue) at home holding down the fort) all held forth well, considering this was their first experience dealing with the technology and in most cases, leading the groups. I can’t say enough except that I am very proud to work with them


See you in October


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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