Wednesday: Plan for the Unthinkable

Sessions Look at Disaster Preparations, Workflow/Automation Issues for Broadcast
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Sessions Look at Disaster Preparations, Workflow/Automation Issues for Broadcast

Sessions Look at Disaster Preparations, Workflow/Automation Issues for Broadcast

How to think about disaster planning in the post-9/11 world is the theme of a Wednesday morning Broadcast Engineering Conference session, while an afternoon event focuses on questions of asset management.

Thinking 'worst-case'
Wednesday morning, April 20:

"Disaster Prep and Recovery"

Wednesday afternoon, April 20:

"Workflow, Asset Management and Automation"
For Wednesday morning’s "Disaster Prep and Recovery," Entercom Vice President of Engineering Marty Hadfield, the moderator, has assembled a panel of speakers to offer solutions to problems most broadcasters hope they never have to face.

The panel will focus on the balance between safety and the cost of various levels of emergency operations, of which Hadfield says, "These (two) topics will provide a good framework for assessing which options are best for any GM’s local expectations for performance under adverse conditions."

Since the Southeast was hit hard during last hurricane season, owners and managers are likely to sit up and take notice of the morning sessions.

Joseph Pollet, director of engineering for Entercom’s New Orleans cluster, will present a paper on "Hurricane Preparedness in a City Below Sea Level." Pollet is scheduled to discuss general planning and the resultant specific checklists that went into the development and evaluation of the WWL Radio hurricane operating plan and its on-going effect on the station’s news, programming and engineering departments.

Roz Clark of the six-station Cox Radio cluster in Tampa, Fla., will focus on "Disaster Survival and EAS." Clark’s stations faced an acid test during the 2004 hurricane season by maintaining an on-air presence for public safety concerns and as a vehicle for Emergency Alert System messages. Clark will share the survival lessons learned from emergency operations during the hurricanes, and how they relate to emergency operations from the financial side.

Michael Patton, owner of Michael Patton & Associates in Baton Rouge, La., will discuss disaster recovery case studies from the "real world." His presentation is "Disaster Recovery — Tales from the Damaged Side."

Patton says such stories can teach valuable lessons from the viewpoint of engineers who’ve made mistakes and "have been there, done that, got the t-shirt and worn it out." Those lessons involve suggestions and strategies for recovery from fallen towers, destroyed buildings, and missing or vandalized equipment.

Cover your assets

Meredith Broadcasting’s Director of Engineering Joe Snelson moderates an afternoon BEC group of presentations about "front-end" issues, the management and protection of the programs stations broadcast, under the umbrella of "Workflow, Asset Management and Automation."

The panel will present papers on different phases of the process, which touches every department of a broadcast operation.

"(Some of) our sessions will likely cover how this facilitates the sharing of data between operations — a co-owned television station with a radio operation, for example," Snelson said.

"When news content is repurposed for radio, as it is with Meredith radio and TV properties in Michigan, it needs to be made easily available to everyone who 'touches'the data, from the radio news people, to the Web developers to traffic and management."

The discussions will likely appeal to engineers who will design systems that integrate program content, distribution, protection of digital performance rights and archives. Presentations of interest for radio managers, engineers and operators include this sampling.

In "A New Approach to Digital News Archiving," Nicolas Hans, product strategy Director for Dalet Digital Media Systems in France, will discuss his company’s techniques for managing news content digitally.

According to NAB preview information, Hans suggests that a move to tape-less production environments creates new challenges for the production and re-use of news archives. Newscasters, he says, tend to focus energy on choosing the type of storage system whereas a bigger challenge lies in the consistent collection and manipulation of descriptive metadata and associated digital rights information.

His presentation will suggest ways to balance the administrative and operational considerations of any digital management system.

Digital data can carry with it a short description of what it contains: metadata.

"PBCore: A Common Foundation for Metadata" will be presented by Gerry Field of the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media in Boston. He is to talk about the challenge of managing metadata in the public broadcasting community, and how it resulted in version 1.0 of PBCore, the Public Broadcasting Metadata Dictionary. This is a standard for descriptions and use of data that allow it to be shared by colleagues, software systems and institutions doing radio, TV and Web work.

PBCore is built around the Dublin Core, an international standard for resource discovery. Field says he will talk about efforts to harmonize and map the basic PBCore elements with related international standards.

Bottlenecks between the creative and administrative departments at a radio station can be eliminated or exacerbated when automated playback and management systems are installed.

"Workflow Support in Media Asset Management" by Peter Thomas, chief technology officer of Blue Order in Germany, gives station project designers and managers a roadmap into the processes behind the design and deployment of automation systems.

Thomas suggests that an understanding of workflow processes (structured and unstructured) will help those managers evaluate systems more efficiently and get the most out of them when they are installed and deployed across each area of the station.

He believes that "enabling enterprise-wide business processes creates a strong demand for workflow support. Business processes may comprise system workflows, which can be supported by workflow automation, and human workflows."


Bangor Stations to Test Disaster Plan

What participants believe is the first local cooperative emergency broadcasting venture in this market among commercial radio broadcasters and public broadcasting could become a model for others in the industry hoping to combine resources to ensure that public information links remain stable after natural disasters, attacks or pandemics.