Under the Big Blue Carpet: Behind the Scenes at RSNA

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imageI attended my first RSNA in 2006, and although the McCormick convention center is, by now, so familiar to me that I could probably navigate it in my sleep, I’ve never lost my sense of astonishment at the mini-cities that are the exhibit halls. It seems like every year the vendors’ booths become more complex, and for some of the bigger, global corporations like GE, Philips and Siemens, circling the whole booth can take ten minutes or more.

During a meeting with McKesson yesterday I heard a couple of stats that blew my mind: the company has 28 servers onsite just to run its demos, and connections within the booth are made with the help of 4,764 feet of cable buried underneath the carpet. (Now you know why those carpets seem so deep and soft – they’re hiding something.) At a subsequent meeting with MedWeb, I learned that the booths often take a full week to erect, and that at 2 p.m. on the dot Thursday it all starts coming down – including that signature McCormick blue carpet, which is rolled away to reveal bare concrete floors.

McCormick Place is, in fact, the largest convention center in the country – a fact that my feet were aware of before my brain was. There are 2.6 million square feet of exhibit halls here alongside 600,000 square feet of meeting rooms. No wonder I’m so hungry all the time.

Any other fun facts about the behind-the-scenes side of RSNA? Let me know in the comments!