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Post-disaster broadcasting (Hurricane Sandy & PacTV)

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 exceptionm, and 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. 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.

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 company have also chosen a new phone system that has the ability to manage communications from any PacTV facility, while its new cloud-based email system and a new remote access to the Scheduall bookings system, allows operators and bookings to communicate off-site.

 

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