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Norway’s NRK unveils automated UGC Publishing powered by Signiant

NRK, the state broadcaster in Norway, has a long history of technical innovation.

With modest budgets compared to heavyweights like NBC or BBC, it makes use of technology to support more efficient operations. It long ago moved to file-based playout supported with an Omnibus MAM (now Miranda, a Belden brand).

It is extending file-based operations using workflow automation to manage content ingest from regional centers and its content partners. The traffic department has traditionally handled content movement for broadcasters, but the migration from linear videotape operations to file transfer has not removed the need to manage content transfer. The traffic department still needs to control what is coming in and when to ensure that high priority content like news clips has precedence.

NRK has content incoming from many sources. The broadcaster has 12 regional offices around Norway, and has just started a platform called TIPS that allows the public to submit user-greeted content (UGC).

NRK also belongs to the Nordvision partnership, which also includes: Denmark's DR, Finland’s YLE, Iceland's RÚV, Sweden's SVT and Finland's YLE. NRK also exchanges content over the EBU network and with major broadcaster around the world.

Signiant is to be the common platform for all input and output from NRK, whether production houses, other broadcasters or the EBU. NRK is using Signiant for workflow management rather than just a transfer agent. The software platform allows them to manage content transfers in real time from the headquarters in Oslo.

The system is called Digital Spedisjon, a word that stems from the Italian word spedire meaning to send, but ‘spedisjon’ used in Norway in the wider context of freight forwarding and logistics. In the world of file forwarding and logistics this includes: scanning for viruses, registration with production databases, possible rewrapping and/or transcoding and forwarding to the DAM for archiving.

With TIPS, a producer or journalist can define how, where and when user-generated news content best fits into their operations — and with a press of a button, use Signiant’s accelerated file transfer software to move content through a process where it is metatagged and sent to downstream destinations including the archive. For example, a 20-second video clip of a fire might be routed to breaking TV news, a package news feature for later airing, and the Web. All content is documented and tracked, making it easier for journalists to annotate story packages and find user content for other stories.

TIPS uses Telestream Vantage for transcoding and rewrapping and also to automate workflows around the transform processes. The Signiant engine is used more as an IT process automation solution. It manages processes like mitigating and registration of new content with databases, and acts more like a business process management system. It communicates with other applications via APIs and watch folders.

“Signiant helped us to create one of the most advanced automated news workflows in the world, where we avoid time-consuming repetitive tasks, expedite content movement and give our staff the tools to use the wealth of user- sourced content to create engaging news packages across all our media properties,” said Rune Hagberg, Solutions Architect at NRK. “During the Olympics, Signiant’s solution proved its power for greatly accelerating content delivery, and now that we are integrating it with a host of mission-critical broadcast systems, it has become a vital part of our operations infrastructure.”

Signiant’s accelerated Managers+Agents, Media Exchange and Media Shuttle software form the heart of TIPS. Managers+Agents handles the workflow from the data center, Media Exchange is used by staff to submit content, and Media Shuttle used for basic access, typically from the public where they can login via an iPad application. Agents installed on the sending and receiving ends manage and track content movement centrally to certify delivery.

NRK have expressed an interest to adopt the AMWA/EBU FIMS specifications in the future to interconnect services like transform with workflow orchestration and business process management. They will also adopt the EBU Core metadata set.

NRK did not need a full-scale ESB for the TIPS project, which is a development of the system set up originally for the 2012 Olympics coverage. That innovative broadcast automation platform, built for NRK by local integrator Mediateket, enabled remote coverage of the Games for the broadcaster.