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February 2014

“You have to look at the story, the region and think about the routing, transmission and IP network. Different combinations of technology can make considerable savings”

TVBEurope 19 The Workflow

News gathering goes mobile — and wearable

From cellular bonded backpacks and smartphone apps to smart glass, the possibilities of news reportage are changing, writes Adrian Pennington

WITHIN minutes of the Asiana Airlines flight 214 crash landing at San Francisco airport last July, survivors were tweeting commentary. They included Samsung EVP David Eun whose eye-witness testimony trended online and was picked up by news outlets worldwide. Imagine then, the news value if another passenger or passengers involved in a similar incident today could stream live pictures to websites while onboard?

The scenario is one of

many that is intriguing news organisations as the era of wearable computing dawns. Voice-activated, augmented eyewear loaded with HD cameras, microphones, displays and always-on WiFi, promise to make content creation and dissemination as easy as saying 'record a video.' Broadcasters are already

some way down this route with backpacks containing technology which bonds multiple cellular and wireless networks, an increasingly common element of the news gathering armoury. “Broadcasters understand the use case around cellular uplink, often as a compliment to the OB van,” says Eric Chang, VP marketing, TVU Networks. “In a breaking news situation where a van can't get through, the crew are able to pick up a pack and go to a certain location and still transmit.” During the Occupy Oakland

movement of 2011, journalists with TVU backpacks were able to follow police into the crowds where OB trucks had no sight lines. “Journalists are able to gather

new types of picture and new types of stories with this technology,” says Chang. “Stormchasers, for example, are able to put a kit in a car and travel around capturing live footage of weather events in ways that were not possible previously. The kit has no complicated set-up so crews can get to a location and start shooting live immediately.”

network was virtually wiped out in certain areas. ITN teams used BGAN terminals “which have transformed foreign news by allowing us to widen our reach around the world in a much more cost effective manner than before,” says Smith. Sky News’ head of technology, Steve Bennedik, however, says it's no longer acceptable to automatically send a BGAN because of the technology's expense. The organisation uses a variety of backpack technologies from Aviwest, LiveU and Dejero. “You have to look at the story,

the region and think about the routing, transmission and IP network,” he says. “Different combinations of technology can make considerable savings.” On location in Nairobi recently, Sky sent Aviwest 3G mobile devices backed up with a KA satellite dish.

LiveU’s LU-400 in action at the Berlin Marathon “One issue with backpacks

Live U’s Smart Grip brings mobile transmisson to phones and tablets

Al Jazeera used TVUPack to

extend its live news gathering operations in locations throughout the Middle East, including the 2012 presidential election and recent civil unrest in Egypt. LiveU's technology will be used to cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The BBC made extensive use of Mobile Viewpoint's combination of embedded hardware encoder and off-the- shelf USB 3G, 4G, CDMA2000 and Wimax modems to broadcast the Olympic 2012 torch relay.

But is BGAN best? The momentum behind the technology is clear, however, if not quite ubiquitous yet.

is the latency which makes a Q&A interview quite difficult. Because it relies on the public network you never know at what point you may find the signal stopping,” says Malcolm Smith, head of newsgathering operations, ITN. “We run a bulletin-based news service and if the live element of a story can't be 100% relied upon, then it's too disruptive. A classic

installed at ITV’s regional bases and HQ on Grays Inn Road, providing downlink of signals and local IP connectivity. A SIS uBook system will dynamically allocate bandwidth between DVB and IP carriers, ensuring that the satellite capacity usage is maximised at all times. “We will extend our network out in the field so journalists near a truck can connect to the newsroom as if they were back

Smartphone streaming apps All the leading bonded wireless uplink suppliers now offer phone apps which boost encoding quality and link feeds direct to the relevant news desk. ITN uses Aspera, developers of a fast file transfer product and a mobile phone app from Streambox. LiveU offers LU-Smart, allowing customers to extend coverage using a smartphone or tablet. Sky Asia correspondent

Mark Stone has broadcast live with an iPhone outfitted with Dejero LIVE+ from a remote area of China. Sky's North of England reporter Nick Martin has also used the app when first to the scene of a breaking sports news story. “We are encouraging our

reporters to use smartphones where it makes sense, and will

“We are encouraging our reporters to use smartphones where it makes sense”

Steve Bennedik, Sky News

example is of the student marches round Trafalgar Square where we had a crew out with a backpack, they walk around the corner and bump into a Sky crew using similar kit and the signal falls apart.” ITN's next generation of 18 SNG vehicles, provided by SIS Live, will feature a network connection as well as providing video back to ITN. On stream this year, the service will use SIS LIVE’s 8.1m Ka band antenna at its MediaCityUK teleport, with smaller Ka band antennas

at their desk,” says Smith. Vendors of cellular bonding equipment make much of the idea that news crews can transmit from remote regions or conflict zones. LiveU says it is the only vendor providing a roaming solution which covers 250 countries with a global sim card or set of cards. “No matter where you are in the world you have coverage,” says Ronen Artman, VP marketing. Yet in the aftermath of

Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines, the cell phone

kit out journalists with extra kit (professional mics, tripods and lens adaptors for iPhones),” says Bennedik. “The Dejero app is very easy to work and comes straight through to the Sky network operations centre in Osterley, not via YouTube or other public channels. We get it onto air immediately. It can be just 30 seconds of vision which a reporter can send in while they are waiting for a crew to arrive.” Dejero's LIVE+ 20/20

transmitter was also key to Sky Sports News' live broadcast

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