Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan talks to network news agencies from HUD’s broadcast studio at the department’s headquarters in Washington. The equipment being used for the broadcast is a Sony HDCU-1000 camera, an Autoscript LED 19 Teleprompter and Nila LED lights. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission requires it to inform and educate the public on housing-related matters ranging from obtaining home loans, to community development, to what grant programs are available. To disseminate that information, HUD produces videos on those topics and webstreams the productions to points like YouTube, or to the agency’s satellite offices that are located in every state.
HUD’s broadcasting division is responsible for all audio, video and still image production for the agency, and its four studios, three control rooms and centralized control center produce more than 100 hours of video and audio content per month, according to the division.
In addition, HUD’s website makes available numerous videos — all produced by the department’s broadcasting team — which include information on various topics, according to HUD.
HUD also awards grants “for which there is always an audience out in the community,” said Paul Royston, its broadcast division program manager. Because the grant application process is specific and may be complicated, HUD conducts a live webcast to explain the process. During the webcast, viewers are able to submit questions through e-mail and receive an immediate response from the presenter.
“It is distance learning and training, both internally and externally, that is our mission,” Royston said. The internal training involves HUD’s workforce, while external training is aimed at those who make use of HUD programs, he added.
The videos produced for internal use are streamed to the satellite offices, said William Amos, HUD’s acting director of broadcasting. “Our media customers are the HUD employees, but they’re trying to get a message out to the public and they use us to develop that information,” he said.
In addition, HUD tracks and issues information on developments in the housing market. It is information that network news organizations are interested in, according to Amos.
Because the information provided by HUD is sought by network news, the department needs to be able to connect electronically to CNN, Bloomberg Television, Fox News and all the various broadcast networks, Royston said.
Because HUD’s broadcast division is “a small-to-medium sized facility,” meeting those tasks can be daunting, according to Amos. “We reach a lot of people with our message, but to get those standards on a medium-sized budget is always a challenge for most facilities,” he added.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
To meet those demands, in 2010 the broadcast division contracted Omnitec Solutions Inc., a technology- services firm that has been upgrading government and organizational facilities in Washington for over eight years. Among Omnitec’s clients have been the Treasury Department, the Pentagon Channel and the International Monetary Fund.
Omnitec was tasked with designing and building a new broadcast facility for HUD, as well as moving the broadcast division from a 25-year-old analog, tape-based operation to a fully digital and Internet protocol distribution model. To do that, the entire infrastructure was reconstructed and the studio space grew from four to six rooms.
Royston oversaw the upgrades from inception through commissioning, and that required replacing the facility’s infrastructure without interrupting the daily broadcast and production needs of the agency.
The system Omnitec installed is called the Central Core, and it leverages the newest technologies in media acquisition, editing and distribution, and the studios record directly into the server base and the content is accessible anywhere the network exists.
That has made tapes and disks a thing of the past, and has facilitated the editing of video, for any staffer one who wants to edit video now only needs to access it through the online system, the officials said.
In addition, because the bandwidth available in the previous IT network could not sustain what was being demanded of it, Omnitec built a small IT network just for broadcasting, officials said.
The new IT network enables the broadcast division to transmit data to YouTube, which makes the videos available to the public, according to Amos. “The network that Omnitec built is really the backbone of the way we distribute our product,” he said. “And it is all in HD.”
Omnitec Solutions Inc.