Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Live Video--The Future of Crisis Communication Is Now

The importance of live video feeds to the Gulf Spill response cannot be missed. It was the subject of news media coverage for days, approx 1.5 million individuals have watched the spill live video feeds on the Internet since they were first provided, and the cost in bandwidth to BP is astronomical. But the real lesson for anyone contemplating the future of emergency and crisis communications is that live video will be a key component of almost every major response going forward.

If you are a PIO or communication leader for an organization involved you may think you have a choice in the matter. No you don't. If the incident is subject to live video it will be provided--either by you or by someone else.

At this point BP is providing as many as 12 live video feeds and more may be added in the future. For the more technical in the crowd, the data is now being measured in petabytes (we're way past terrabytes). The cost of such enormous data feeds must be considered in the planning budgets of emergency response organizations in the future. In the case of an Responsible Party event, in other words oil and shipping industry events, the RP will pay and it will be required of them to provide it.

The role of live video feeds in major events should not surprise us. It is the natural convergence of technological capability wedded to our instant information/entertainment/transparency-driven culture. All news media (including new media) compete on the basis of immediacy. If it isn't happening right now, it really doesn't matter. That's why "Breaking News" is such a big deal on broadcast and why all the major newspapers have instant news alerts and websites that feature "breaking news." It's all about right now. What happened half an hour ago is, well, old news.

In the meantime, video production gets more and more democratized. The last few years have seen a giant revolution in the entertainment as well as news business because of the ready availability of high definition professional level gear at consumer prices. Now we've taken another giant leap in this democratization. Imagine producing a tv quality or even movie quality film--on your phone! I mean shooting, recording, mixing, editing--and distributing. Don't believe me--check this out. A film created entirely on the new iphone 4.

The future isn't coming at us, folks, it's right here. Alvin Toffler, where are you when we need you most?

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