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Home » Monitoring & Control: Where Do We Go from Here?

Nigel Brownett HeadshotMonitoring & Control: Where Do We Go from Here?

Making technology predictions for the broadcast industry in 2024 and beyond is a fairly easy task. It’s clear that every aspect of our business will continue to evolve, making room for increased automation, the ongoing transition to IP, an increasing use of the Internet for reliable, high-quality, low-cost transport, cloud-based services, and a combination of AI and data-driven analytics re-shaping content creation.

That’s the easy part.

Where it gets more complicated is understanding the nuanced impact of all these changes, and then knowing how to put in place a thorough response plan. In the case of advanced monitoring and control ecosystems for broadcast applications, that’s never been truer.

There is simply more to monitor and control.

Broadcast productions are growing more complex, with increasingly elaborate production values – all to continually meet the exploding worldwide demand for content and the never-ending fight for eyeballs across shifting audience demographics.

Now that we have established a baseline, where do we go from here?

What are the issues – both technological and operational – facing the broadcast industry, and what are the basic, but also often tough questions that every organization needs to ask themselves?

Today’s broadcast operational landscape is continuously adding digital channel playout along with increased hourly news production programming; all with fewer engineering and technical resources. It’s been proven that a scalable approach to advanced monitoring and management systems can be deployed to meet the most pressing needs first, whether it be orchestration of live events, news production, or transmission to remote site management.

Each broadcast media client has unique requirements, so it’s impossible, not to mention risky, to believe that a one-size-fits-all approach makes sense. Broadcast networks, studios, production companies, and content creators are all transforming their operations at their own pace, one that makes the most sense for their business plan, their customers, and, of course, their budget.

Let’s outline just a few issues on the technology side and their potential impact on monitoring and control:

Advanced Data Analytics: Organizations are inundated with data every day: customer viewing habits, content preferences, and more. But are they using this potentially mission-critical business intelligence to its best possible advantage? Do they have the time or the proper resources to even know where to begin? The future of any business, especially in the media and entertainment world, requires the ability to harness the power of data in new ways to make better-informed decisions tailored to specific issues and use cases. The integration of advanced data analytics for real-time monitoring and control can enhance efficiency, detect issues proactively, and optimize broadcast workflows.

New Uses of Artificial Intelligence: Take everything we just talked about in the above section but add AI to it – and every form of the technology: machine learning, deep learning, and the fast-emerging generative AI platforms. Now, you’re elevating workflows with new layers of efficiency, accuracy, and automation – while freeing up your in-house teams to focus on other higher-value activities that contribute to your business and your customers’ satisfaction.

Remote Production: Before the pandemic, workflows and production options once considered “nice to haves” are now requirements. “Remote” is definitely at or near the top of that list. With the increasing adoption of remote production workflows comes a heightened emphasis on remote monitoring solutions that give technical directors and producers a level of control and comfort to be completely involved in a production from any location. This also extends to internal operational issues, as more organizations contend with the challenges and requirements associated with managing distributed teams.

The IP Migration: Our industry will continue to shift towards IP-based workflows, seeking the benefits of more flexible and scalable broadcast infrastructures, and realizing more cost-effective, stable delivery and transport. The evolving family of reliable and secure IP standards and protocols – 2110, SRT, NDI – will certainly impact the ability of monitoring and control systems to adapt to an organization’s future plans.

Cloud: Cloud-based services and solutions are continually seeing increased adoption, enabling more flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness in broadcast monitoring and control operations. The cloud is also the backbone of the “as a service” model, where customers can manage their production infrastructures based on their individual needs while moving from a CapEx toward an Opex model. But it’s important to remember that “the cloud” is not some magic bullet and there are important considerations to discuss regarding content access and ownership. Also, even in a cloud-based “virtual” production environment, some level of hardware is still needed.

Riding on top of all these technology topics are overarching issues that apply to every organization:

Quality of Service (QoS): If this is not the ultimate end goal, then there’s a more fundamental issue that needs to be resolved. Ensuring the highest-quality viewing experience is everything. Audiences have more viewing options than ever; if they don’t feel personally engaged or thoroughly immersed, then they will simply go somewhere else. Monitoring is evolving to become more than a tracking tool. The addition of AI and data analytics is delivering more sophisticated metrics and insights related to enhancing the viewer experience, as well as maximizing (and monetizing) content delivery.

Cybersecurity: More teams sharing more content online across different networked systems is a dream come true for cyber-thieves. Does your organization have a clear view of potential attack surfaces? Have you defined your risk profile and correspondingly your own levels of risk tolerance? An increased focus on cybersecurity measures for broadcast monitoring and control systems can go a long way toward safeguarding, and even preemptively deterring, potential breaches and network intrusions.

Each of these above challenges can also be viewed as opportunities, provided the right elements are in place related to monitoring and control. An organization must have a clear view of its goals, its capabilities and even its limits.

The first step is asking a series of questions, including but not limited to:

    • Who are the operational key stakeholders?
    • What are the broadcast operation desired data points?
    • What are your most business-critical monitoring and control data points?
    • What is your fault event response plan?
    • Who needs to get which alarms?
    • What constitutes varying severity alarms?
    • How do you need the alarms presented?
    • Do you have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for deployment and usage?

    The potential end results: improved operational efficiencies, increased fault event response effectiveness, elevated overall operational confidence, preemptive fault event occurrences, and enhanced troubleshooting and recovery.

    The ultimate goal is to provide the highest levels of operational visibility and transparency across an entire organization, putting every business and technological process under a single-pane-of-glass view, and developing scalable deployments based on unique priorities.

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