Hurricane Sandy Prompts Facility to Adopt Best Practices and Enhance Infrastructure
NEW YORK CITY, OCTOBER 16, 2013 ─ It’s 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 it’s 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 York’s 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 facility’s power needs, its network controls were also a topic for improvement. “Since we’re the only branch that isn’t 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 York’s 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, PacTV’s 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 can’t 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 company’s new cloud-based email system and a new remote access to the Scheduall bookings system, allows operators and bookings to communicate off-site.
“We have used our lessons from Sandy to strengthen our network and facilities,” says George Lopez, vice-president of operations, PacTV. “It served as a great example to the extent our staff is willing to go in order to provide our clients with flawless service no matter what the challenge. They can feel confident moving forward that PacTV will continue to be one of the most prepared broadcast facilities in the world.”
Overall, these lessons have enabled PacTV to further implement enhancements that are all part of PacTV’s company-wide commitment to provide its clients with the best service possible no matter what the challenge.
ABOUT PACIFIC TELEVISION CENTER
For more than 30 years, Los Angeles-based Pacific Television Center has been a leading transmission and live production provider to the global broadcast industry offering its clients around-the-clock support and services in fiber connectivity, downlinks, satellite coordination, receive and records, multi-format tape play outs, live shots, satellite media tours and voiceovers. On a local level, its broadcast facility in Los Angeles connects to the ATT/PacBell Hollywood Hub and The Switch Los Angeles; in New York, it connects to Ascent Media Waterfront, The Switch New York and Azzurro; and in London, its facility has multiple circuits to and from BT Tower. Additional services include the PacTV Pools in Los Angeles, remote location production via Western Pacific Mobile Microwave in Los Angeles, and a fiber network to several countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and France. The company’s solid reputation has led to successful relationships with major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, CNN, BSkyB and BBC in the UK, Network TEN in Australia and Sky in New Zealand as well as top carriers including SingTel, SES World Skies, BT, Nexion, XO Communications, Aldea, Colt, Verizon, and Level 3/Vyvx. For more information regarding Pacific Television Center, visit www.pactv.com.