In Broadcast - IBC 2015 - 12


12

www.inbroadcast.com | IBC2015 InShow Guide | 11-15 September

A New Test For Digital
Media Monitoring
Bridge Technologies Chairman Simen Frostad says standards are all very well in an ideal world,
but real world monitoring requires appraisal of reference values and accurate
presentation of meaningful data...

S

tandards of one kind or another
form part of the fabric of our lives.
Every time we pass an exam, or learn
to speak a new language, we conform
- more or less well - to a standard.
When we take our driving test we
have to demonstrate physical and
intellectual competence in a defined
set of tasks and behaviours that have
been established as the standard for
safe and co-operative road use.
But as everyone who has ever taken
and passed a driving test knows,
'the standard' achieved on the day
of the test is an ideal. It has little
real meaning in the following weeks,
months and years as the driver relaxes
from the rigid formality required to
satisfy the examiner, and acquires new
and less virtuous habits; driving with
only one hand on the wheel, tailgating
the driver in front, using a mobile
phone, speeding...
Yet unless something goes seriously
wrong and the driver is prosecuted
and banned from driving, he or she
is still deemed to be adhering to the
standard. It can also be said that the
standard as defined on the day of
the test does not include several key
competences that are really important
to the success of the subsequent
driving career; such as the advanced
road awareness that comes from
experience, the ability to act calmly
under pressure, or to regain control of
a car that's skidding.
Like the driving test, many other
standards only go so far - but not far
enough. They may get us on the road
with other users, but they don't and
can't prevent us from running out
of fuel, coping badly with a sudden

Bridge Technologies visualisation

deterioration in conditions, angering
other drivers with inconsiderate
behaviour, or crashing. Standards,
in other words, are in some senses
rooted in an ideal world, and we all
inhabit a real world.
Standard Limitations
In the world of digital media services,
the standard is ETR290. It defines
the conventionalised parameters for
determining the integrity of a digital
media stream, so that agreed levels
of performance can be maintained.
It's a bit like the driving test for digital
media monitoring systems - it gets
them on the road. But what if we really
want our monitoring technology to go
from being just 'a driver' who's passed
the test, to 'a really good driver' in
the complicated, messy real world?
Something much more than the basic
level of the standard is needed for
that.
For operators of digital media
services
ETR290
has
serious
limitations. It doesn't address critical
areas of a commercial digital media
service - such as the conditional access
system, or the programme guide - in
which faults can be just as detrimental
to a subscriber's experience of the
service as image freezes or dropped
packets in the stream itself. Support
of ETR290 in a monitoring system
cannot guarantee that the fallible
human element will use it correctly,
or even understand it fully. Like the
over-confident or negligent driver still
technically conforming to the standard
by driving on the correct side of the
road and stopping at red lights, but
driving too close to the car in front, or
fiddling with the satnav
while a pedestrian is
crossing a few metres
ahead, the monitoring
technicians
tasked
with setting up ETR290
thresholds can make
the wrong decision
and
misunderstand
the consequences of
their actions all too

Specific Data: digital media monitoring

easily. ETR290 is dauntingly complex
and in-depth knowledge of it is a rare
commodity among operational staff.
Real World Monitoring
Bridge Technologies wanted to
offer a monitoring system that
delivers more value in the real world
by encompassing the standard (but
making it easier to use accurately),
and trapping serious errors that the
standard does not address. To do
this, we created Gold TS Protection:
a new technology that makes it much
easier to set up monitoring for digital
services, even without specialist indepth knowledge. The technology
also accelerates and simplifies faulttracking. And in recognition of the fact
that digital media services comprise
many components that are outside the
scope of ETR290, Gold TS Protection
includes all the checks specified in the
standard, but goes much further to
include testing for critical conditions
missed by ETR290, such as failures of
the conditional access system, errors
in the program guide, and unintended
language changes.
Accurate and appropriate calibration
is essential if a monitoring system
is to deliver meaningful data and
avoid creating a lot of 'chaff'
with unnecessary alarms. Gold TS
Protection makes the calibration
stage of the process much faster and
helps the technician to move beyond
guesstimation to a more secure
basis for decisions on thresholds
and parameter values. Getting these

right at the beginning means that the
information provided by the system
is more trustworthy - false alarms
are reduced and the data points more
succinctly to errors and conditions
that could lead to errors if left
unaddressed.
Gold Reference
Once the service is calibrated and
working correctly, Gold TS Protection
creates a reference that includes all
the service's key criteria for successful
performance - including but not
limited to those based on ETR290.
From that point on, metrics from the
service are continually analysed and
compared with the reference values.
Any deviation from the reference
is instantly flagged for attention -
highlighted, side by side with the
correct values in the reference.
Engineering staff therefore don't need
to find the error by wading through
tables of data, or remember what the
correct value should be; the deviation
is presented for instant appraisal, next
to the reference value.
This reference-comparison analysis
of the stream dramatically accelerates
the time-to-resolve errors, and it
provides vital monitoring information
on CAS, EPG, subtitles, language tracks
and many more important components
of a digital media service that ETR290
doesn't touch.
No matter how heavy the traffic,
service operators with Gold TS Protection can navigate the road ahead with
much greater confidence.


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