When recent heavy snowstorms affected citizens in WDIV-TV's metropolitan Detroit viewing area, the Streambox® Live™ IP-based video contribution service and the Sprint 3G Mobile Broadband network provided a novel newsgathering solution: snowplow-cams. The NBC affiliate supplemented its live news and weather coverage with video of road conditions streamed from smartphones mounted on the dashboards of county snowplow trucks. The video was rebroadcast by major news organizations including CNN Headline News, MSNBC, and The Weather Channel® to enhance their national weather coverage.
"Major weather events can have a dire impact on citizens' ability to move about safely, and news organizations have a responsibility to ensure that viewers are armed with the most current and accurate information possible. The streaming system worked well for us to bring in many live videos from all over metropolitan Detroit for WDIV-TV, and the snowplow operation is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak," said Jeff Liebman, news operations manager at WDIV-TV. "When paired with the reliability, robust 3G network speeds, and signal clarity afforded by the mobile broadband network, this application afforded us an extremely cost-effective and scalable method for giving viewers a firsthand look at road conditions as they happened."
Designed for broadcasters, regional and national governments, and enterprises, the Streambox Live service enables many-to-many real-time and file-based video acquisition over low-bandwidth networks. Video contributors, journalists, and citizen reporters can download the free Streambox Live video software to their cell phones, laptops, and networked devices and then file breaking news stories in field locations that are sometimes difficult for satellite newsgathering trucks to reach. Armed with only a camera, mobile phone, or laptop and a low-bandwidth IP connection, field reporters can upload compressed video streams to the studio, where they can be decoded and broadcast live or archived via the Streambox Live data center.
Streambox Live also can be powered by Sprint 4G, available today in 27 markets across the United States. Sprint 4G offers turbocharged mobile broadband, delivering peak download speed up to 10 times faster than 3G.* It is expected to cover up to 120 million people by the end of 2010.
For the recent Detroit snowstorm, WDIV-TV worked with the government of Oakland County to install mobile phones in 25 snowplow vehicles. Each phone had been pre-configured with the Streambox Live cell phone software encoder featuring Streambox's exclusive ACT-L3™ video compression technology. Throughout the day, the phones captured and encoded views of streets and roads that were being cleared by the snowplows and transmitted the compressed video via Sprint 3G Mobile Broadband to the Streambox Live data center, and then on to the WDIV studios. There, the video was decoded by Streambox SBT3-5200 decoders and media players for use on air. In addition to using Streambox technology in live broadcasts, WDIV was able to leverage the Streambox Live data center to manage, track, and access archived video uploads for later broadcast. Following the initial project, WDIV is now working with Oakland County to deploy the system to its entire fleet of snowplows, with plans to extend the application to snowplows operating in Wayne and McComb counties.
"Managing many different streams of content coming into the operation - such as feeds from 25 different snowplows - can be really challenging for broadcasters today, but this application makes it easy. We're able to quickly view videos and thumbnails of all available incoming video, and we pay only for what we decide to use," Liebman added. "The system offers first-rate compression and a tremendous amount of forward error correction to deliver extremely high video quality - much higher than you would expect from a low-bandwidth connection."
"Streambox Live is a great application to demonstrate the robustness and reliability of our 3G network; no one has a more reliable network than Sprint based on a recent 13-city 3G performance test by PC World,**" said Tom Roberts, vice president of business marketing, Sprint. "This illustrates our philosophy that we are open to all types of applications running on our network, and we want our customers to benefit from the power of mobility. Streambox Live over the Sprint 3G network offers rapid and reliable delivery of broadcast-quality video content."
More information about Streambox ACT-L3 encoding solutions is available online at www.streambox.com.