Broadcasting Events

Guidance on recording and broadcasting events was developed by the Recording & Broadcasting (R&B) Working Group. This was established by the Best Practice Committee for the purpose of exploring low cost solutions for the member group community, and met between December 2011 and December 2012 to survey existing practice within BCS and trial various technology options. The WG submitted a draft report to the November 2012 meeting of the Best Practice Committee and a final report in December 2012. The report was accepted and forwarded to the Membership Board for ratification in December 2012, which endorsed it and accepted its recommendations in full. Best Practice Committee is currently developing an action plan to implement the recommendations.

The final report can be read here: BCS Recording and Broadcasting Report Final.pdf,

More details about the working group can be found at http://www.volunteer.bcs.org/content/recording-broadcasting-rb-working-group.

In this guide:

  • Why Record and Broadcast?
  • Accessibility for End Users
  • The Role of Member Group Web Pages
  • Hosting & archiving
  • Keeping within the rules
  • Common scenarios
  • Technical solutions for recording, broadcasting and editing

Why Record and Broadcast?

Recording and broadcasting have been used in the Media industries for many years, as the essential basis for building mass markets, i.e. markets larger than the number of people who can be accommodated at a live event. They enable remote participation in events as well time-shifted and repeat participation in these events. The costs of recording and broadcasting technologies have now reduced to the point where they can be applied to smaller communities and specialist events, such as those that take place within BCS groups.

In recent time, technologies to support electronic meetings have become widespread with many commercial offerings available, ranging from person-to-person video conferencing to multi-person video meetings with facilities for sharing slides, documents or other content, and providing options to use multiple cameras and microphones. These technologies now overlap with recording and broadcasting technologies to the point where they may provide a satisfactory solution for some groups.

Many BCS groups have a registered membership which includes international members and, for popular groups, may be two orders of magnitude greater than the number who attend live events. Many factors prevent members from attending events in which they may have an interest: travel distance or time, competing family or work commitments, physical limits on meeting rooms, disability, language fluency and so on. It's vital for the success of BCS groups, and the BCS as a whole, that these members be empowered to participate in the activities of groups which they have elected to join.

This guide provides you with an overview of the main options and other points to consider when recording an event such as a BCS event such as a Branch or Specialist Group meeting for live or time shifted broadcasting. However, best practice in this area is constantly evolving, so information is necessarily incomplete and may become out of date. This guidance is not intended to limit innovation, but rather to establish some well tried methods which groups can adopt easily.

[The intention is for this guide to be 'living', and so where it is out of date, needs expanding, or is just plain wrong, do get in touch with the best practice committee who are responsible for this guide.]

Accessibilty for End Users

An important point to consider is how members will want to use the content you create. How will they participate, and will your recording meet their needs and wants? What kind of event produces the content: conference, workshop, invited talk, etc.? What kind of device will members use to access content: personal computer, tablet, smartphone, music player, or Internet enabled TV? Will users need to store content on that device or could it be streamed to them? Will they be able to access content via a browser or must they install some specific client software for the chosen solution to work? What type of network connection will be needed with what bandwidth?

How quickly will the content be needed? In some cases, immediate access to content as a live broadcast, or as a recording which is available immediately after the event, is highly desirable. In other cases, creating a high quality recording with long term value may be more important. There may be trade-offs between different technical options which favour one or other of these. Where a live event is planned, do remote members need to participate and what level of interactivity is appropriate?

With technology rapidly advancing and becoming more ubiquitous, answers to some these questions may appear obvious to desk workers in urban western locations. However, they may not be quite so obvious to mobile workers, members based at home, and those in remote locations or developing countries, so consider the needs of these audiences as well.

It's therefore important that each group establishes a feedback channel and learns from their members' input. The feedback channel can operate via word-of-mouth, e-mail, or via a social networking web site such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, or a survey tool such as SurveyMonkey. In choosing a channel, consider its accessibility from the devices which members will use to access content and the immediacy of the feedback you need. Whilst a live broadcast event may benefit from immediate response, feedback on recorded events may still be valuable even if a delay of days or weeks is involved. Some forms of delayed feedback, such as periodic surveys of members' opinions, are also valuable for planning future group activities.

The Role of Member Group Web Pages

Most BCS groups have web pages to advertise their activities and events, hosted either on the BCS web site or that of another organisation. These can provide the framework for a basic broadcasting service by including links to content such as documents, speaker slides, transcripts of proceedings and various types of recordings. The creation and maintenance of an effective web site is therefore a excellent method of extending any group's reach and should be seen as a prime responsibility.

In addition, groups may wish to place content on other publicly accessible websites, including social networking web sites such as LinkedIn, Flickr, Slideshare and YouTube which are well adapted for particular types of content such as documents, images, audio, and video.  These web sites  provide more advanced functionality which may include discussion threads, content hosting, search facilities, and various forms of web based conferencing, as well as management facilities allowing usage of content to be tracked.  They therefore provide valuable mechanisms for the distributing and interacting with content, which may be seen as another form of broadcasting, as well as a form of storage.

However, a number of factors may influence what can be achieved via an external web site and these include:

  • overall storage requirement (some sites have limitations)
  • overall scalability of the chosen solution (see discussion of technical solutions below)
  • overall number of users/concurrent usage required
  • overall cost of the solution including licencing costs

A group should therefore consider carefully what content to place on each of the web sites that it chooses to use.

Hosting and Archiving

Any web site will also provide a basic cataloguing mechanism, since it is normally appropriate to associate content derived from a particular event with the web page announcing that event. This enables subsequent date related searches for content, but does nothing to assist searches by topic, speaker, or other attributes of the content.  Whilst search engines such as Google may enable members to locate useful content (for example a search on "BCS + parallel processing"), they are in no way specific to a particular group. Content hosting web sites such as Slideshare and YouTube provide more advanced ways of locating content via mechanism such as topic related folders or search engines, and use of Slideshare for audio content and YouTube for video content is therefore recommended.

There is also a need for consolidated archive of video content produced by BCS member groups, which is easily searched and available to all. For this reason, a dedicated YouTube channel for member group content has been established at https://www.youtube.com/user/BCSgroupsandbranches, which will have centralised support for uploading content to it. Procedures for this will be documented when they are available.

The overall objective for BCS is to demonstrate the strength and depth of its specialist activities by building an archive of material derived from its groups. There is reason to believe that, over time, this archive could become a valuable resource for BCS members and, more broadly, for the wider community involved with information technology.

Keeping withing the Rules

Rules relating to the management of the recording or broadcasting process, and subsequent management of recordings produced is given in the Rules section of the Volunteer Portal. These rules relate to copyright in recordings, the protection of BCS's reputation and privacy of individuals, and the security of recorded materials. The general approach taken is that most member group events are operated on a non-commercial basis where BCS does not pay speakers for their content, nor does it seek to profit from this content. Many BCS meetings are also open to the public and their content becomes public domain material. Under these circumstances, formal legal agreements are unnecessary and a simplified procedure can be used.

However, it always necessary to obtain each speaker's agreement to the rules and this may be achieved by sending a simple letter/e-mail to the speaker and obtaining a written reply indicating their consent. This may be coupled with guidance on other subjects such as the style or length of the presentation. An example of a guidance letter is given here.