Its been nearly one year since Hurricane Sandy rocked the east coast, leaving thousands of residents without power and access to the various broadcasting channels they have come to rely on for information. The New York City location of Pacific Television Center (PacTV), a Los Angeles-based independent global transmission and production company, was no exception. The broadcasting center wrestled with limited power, fuel and resources while facing many additional obstacles. Inspired by this event, PacTV created a Disaster Recovery Best Practices Team with the goal of future-proofing its engineering, communications and facilities, based on its experiences with Sandy.
First, the PacTV team took a closer look at its generator and backup power systems. After performing extensive research and experiencing additional after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, the team concluded that PacTV New York, working in conjunction with its Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS infrastructure, needed its power source to provide a seamless transition in the event of situations similar to that of Sandy, as well as to those unpredictable occurrences from its utility provider. With this in mind, the team chose to install a natural gas power unit that, while providing a quiet source of electricity, would be clean-burning and a continuous fuel choice regardless of road conditions in the city. Also, while keeping with PacTV New Yorks transmission facility and studio service requirements, they also chose a unit that would provide efficient performance in the event that utility services were absent for an extended period of time, such as the case with Hurricane Sandy.
In addition to the facilitys power needs, its network controls were also a topic for improvement. Since were the only branch that isnt 24/7, we needed a network that can still access our local connectivity at all times, says Vinnie Nguyen, branch manager, PacTV New York.
Because of this challenge, the PacTV New Yorks N.Y. HUB was designed using Grass Valley routers that are set up for remote access, allowing it to be controlled from PacTV Los Angeles. This allows PacTV New York to stay virtually operational 24/7 without having to worry about staff members traveling to the facility during off-hours or under difficult weather conditions. Due to its efficiency, PacTVs Washington D.C. HUB was built with the same idea in mind and integrated into the PacTV Network.
The team also needed to find alternate paths for future transmissions and those in progress, such as third party connectivity lines, and pinpointing points of the network that could become the vulnerable piece of the puzzle. PacTV New York is one of the few broadcast facilities connected to all the major video hubs in New York (The Switch, Encompass, Azzurro, Vyvx and Zayo), explains Nguyen. If a feed cant physically get into our building because of a natural disaster, we now have alternative access points into our network.
Communication was also a serious challenge throughout the storm for PacTV. In order to improve this, the company chose a new phone system that has the ability to manage communications from any PacTV facility. That way, the PacTV teams in Los Angeles, London and New York can help each other in times of need. In addition, the companys new cloud-based email system and a new remote access to the Scheduall bookings system, allows operators and bookings to communicate off-site. www.pactv.com.