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It's 2014 and we really ought to have green and environmental issues firmly in our minds, just in case the extraordinarily inclement wetness in the UK and the spectacular chill on the East coast of the US has been missed. Aside from the inconvenience that it causes it is the unpredictability of the effects and the associated consequences of extreme weather that is so disruptive. When politicians start talking about the robustness of infrastructures then there is hope that they might just about be getting the point.
As a concept robustness is central to most any broadcast happening -- perhaps to avoid embarrassment and to protect jobs and vested interests but primarily because if you’re doing something properly then you should think about what can wrong and planning for those eventualities is the way to uninterrupted service. The bigger an event the bigger the built-in redundancy and the sophistication of the protection mechanism.
When you get to Olympic standards then the level of contingency is duplicated by pretty much everyone who is there on the ground to the point where many broadcasters are performing exactly the same job in parallel for their respective audiences. With increasing economic pressure you really have to question such a level of duplication of technology, effort and, most significantly, of people. Technology writes itself off over a period of time and consumes power; people incur expenses continually.
It is why the notion of remote working – beaming signals directly from an event back to a local base in the country of the broadcaster where they are processed and delivered to the consumers – is catching the imagination of so many. It removes operational variables and costs plus, if structured correctly, it gives a broadcaster a certain independence of responsibility – you have fewer boots on the ground at the head-end but those that are there are looking after your interests and working towards the greater good of the collective. There is something progressive and green about this way of working and the technology exists to make it happen. It’s what the future of large broadcasting events will look like.
Zenon Schoepe, Executive Editor