Disruptive by Design: What the Military Can Learn From Swedish TV

July 1, 2019
By Anders Klintäng

There has been a quiet revolution in the television industry thanks to the vision of Adde Granberg, chief technology officer and head of production at Swedish Television SVT.

When we watched Lindsey Vonn retire in February of this year after an amazing career as an alpine skier, a quiet revolution happened behind the cameras. What looked like a normal, well-produced live TV event on the surface was, in fact, the world’s first remotely produced large-scale live TV production. In the world of live TV production, this is almost considered a quantum leap.

Large feeds are nothing new, but handling them might be. The challenge doesn’t seem that complicated: Take 80 live camera feeds in Åre, Sweden and transfer the raw feed from each of them through commercial Internet lines roughly 530 kilometers to Stockholm to process and distribute a managed TV production around the world.

This is not something new in the world of combat management systems with multiple sensor feeds over large distances to centralized processing sites. But what if you enter the fact that every camera sends a 2-gigabit to 8-gigabit live feed into the local switch and then forwards all 80 cameras into one 2x100-gigabit connection from Åre to Stockholm with very low latency?

This is the Adde architecture. All forward switching is housed in a few small rack cases and easily deployed and redeployed at different locations.

From a television production standpoint, this meant that the logistical and personnel footprint in Åre was lowered and specialists could use their regular and purpose-built facilities in Stockholm instead of cramped production buses that need to be hauled on-site with external power, cooling and serving to function. Remote production might scale back the need for forward deployed combat camera teams as a direct effect.

It may seem improbable that television production could influence military operations, but consider that a camera is essentially a sensor with a 5-gigabit continuous feed. Then consider the ability to forward a large volume of simultaneous feeds over a constant lower bandwidth feed without noticeable latency. This is the revolution within television that could benefit our way of handling networks in a time where sensor data needs to flow fast and without compression at an early stage. The scalability is seemingly enormous; latency is low and the forward footprint relatively small.

From a military standpoint, this base architecture could help evolve our networks to handle next-generation requirements for higher-level data streams and keep larger data sets further downstream to provide more data for operational awareness in a complex battlespace. It also gives us a reminder to look outside the regular area of interest and find new ideas to advance and evolve organizational output.

Adde says the next step in television production is cloud production. What is our next step beyond that?

Anders Klintäng is an information management and security consultant with interest in secure information flows and the connection between information and leadership. Anders is also a reservist at the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters Joint Forces Command J-9. Anders is the current Regional Young AFCEAN in the Nordic region.

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