Bannister Lake Announces Partnership With Election Data Provider Decision Desk HQ

Bannister Lake is pleased to announce that it is partnering with Washington, D.C.-based election data provider Decision Desk HQ (DDHQ) to provide U.S. election data and analysis. DDHQ is a leader in election data collection and reporting, providing results solutions that are up to the second, competitively priced, and accurate.

Bannister Lake has developed and implemented a parser for DDHQ election returns that ingests results data directly into its industry-leading Chameleon data aggregation and management solution. Within Chameleon, producers and analysts can track results, identify voting trends, make race calls, or use DDHQ supplied calls. Producers can then generate graphic playlists and use Chameleon’s RESTful API to distribute data and render graphics through popular broadcast graphic engines or through Chameleon’s HTML 5 renderer.

Broadcasters and online media organizations will be able to use the combination of DDHQ data and Bannister Lake’s Chameleon software to produce exceptional election coverage. DDHQ data includes results for senate, congress, governor, and down ballot races, as well as presidential primaries and the presidency.

Of special interest to local broadcast outlets, DDHQ is the only service to collect and report election results for county and local offices. This includes judges, supervisors, town and school boards in addition to ballot propositions and referendum questions. Bannister Lake is an established leader in managing election data. The company’s Elector software is used by leading Canadian broadcasters to cover elections while Chameleon is equipped with a robust election module geared toward U.S. and other styles of elections.

“Bannister Lake, with its Chameleon software and proven track record with broadcasters across the United States and Canada is a natural fit for DDHQ data,” said Drew McCoy, president, DDHQ. “The product will allow broadcasters in any market, and online services, the ability to produce highly visual election coverage featuring graphics populated with up to the second results. We look forward to working with them, their clients and our partners to provide cutting-edge national, state, and local election coverage in 2020 and in the future.”

“Clients are looking for an alternative to current election data providers and require a robust election data management solution that can generate spectacular graphics,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “The combination of Chameleon and DDHQ data provides a cost-effective and editorially powerful solution for any organization covering the upcoming elections.”

Bannister Lake will be making DDHQ election data available within a variety of solutions, including broadcast graphic engines, web widgets, on-set interactive touch screen displays and as customized social media content. Together, the companies will provide election producers with a wide variety of data solutions to reach audiences on any platform.  

Real-Time Data: Digital Signage’s Secret Weapon

Published in Digital Signage Connection

Digital signage networks are only effective if audiences pay attention to content. That means eye-catching, on-brand design, relevant information and content that gets refreshed regularly. In an ideal world, a team of content creators, marketers and communications professionals will be working around the clock ensuring that the network has the most up-to-date content and that the business and communications objectives of the network are consistently being met. In reality, signage networks depend on sophisticated content management systems that use automation to both update content and set rules and parameters to ensure that content is being programmed consistently.

This is where real-time data feeds play a vital role to ensure audiences are presented with the most important content. Data tickers are a common ingredient in digital signage presentations. News, stock data, sports scores and weather have become an expected and appreciated part of digital signage in many cases. But real-time data can do so much more and transcend virtually every sector of the signage industry. Real-time data from multiple internal and external sources can be used to raise the editorial bar and be put to work to keep audiences engaged and connected.

Real-time data is everywhere; from manufacturing processes to retail analytics to sales statistics. Fast, slow and static data is present across the many sectors where signage is installed. However, much of that data is confined to spreadsheets and proprietary databases and isn’t shared via signage systems. If that data could be ingested, managed, visualized and distributed strategically, communicators would discover an incredibly powerful and automated content type that could have immediate benefits. The fear many communicators have is getting a handle on all that data content and being able to “cherry pick” what is relevant and what is not before distributing it to the proper endpoints. Communicators are also used as tools that visualize data in simple ways; line drawings, basic pie charts and bar graphs not appreciating that there are other ways to display data that take advantage of innovative design and have more engaging outcomes.

On a technical level, signage companies that want to incorporate real-time data sources are required to create a huge library of readers and create custom code to handle integration. This has traditionally been a huge headache. The problem lies with different data feeds having their own unique structure and a general lack of consistency. An alternate approach would be to use readers to ingest real-time data into a centralized database and then apply a standardized set of software tools to manage the data. These tools would be used to moderate, edit, schedule and trigger data according to parameters predetermined by the communications team. The feeds can then be fully customized editorially, reformatted technically and strategically distributed through an API.

In this scenario, dozens of real-time data feeds could be handled simultaneously, and various combinations of the data content would find their way on to select displays that made the most sense from a communications and business perspective. This approach to real-time data is well established in the broadcast industry. Television stations and networks that work with news, elections, sports and financial data select content that they deem important to their audiences, leveraging automation and graphics to keep the information relevant and current. For example, a sports producer who needs to illustrate the top rookies in the MLB with high batting averages will use a data query to “pull out” those statistics from an enormous pool of baseball data. The query can then populate a graphic template that is quickly put to air. The same process can be applied to digital signage, where big data needs to be dissected to reveal a trend or a new business opportunity.

An example from the digital signage industry is the recent U.S. Open Tennis Championship in Flushing Meadows, New York. Multiple video displays of every size and shape throughout the tennis facility were populated with specific data content. The screens were used to keep fans up to date, promote sponsorships and add a heightened level of fan engagement. Producers strategically directed content to specific screens to accomplish specific editorial requirements.

Real-time driven signage at the US Open Tennis Championships

For example, outside the practice courts, producers would display upcoming matches, player biographies, tennis news, schedules and brackets, while the screens located outside the main stadium would display subsets of the live-action data; scoring, serve speeds, number of aces and unforced errors and other game specific data. Producers have come to understand that the signage displays are most engaging and effective when the live data content is relevant and highly targeted. To accomplish this, they employ the same tools that broadcasters use to aggregate, manage, visualize and distribute real-time data.

Across the multiple sectors that digital signage serves, professional communicators and digital signage system providers can leverage the power of real-time data. It is the most effective way to keep screens refreshed, leverage automated processes and keep audiences engaged. Digital signage operators need to get over their fear of big data and seek out solutions that both give them control over data content and foster new business and communications opportunities for their clients and end users.

Bannister Lake Delivers Cross-Platform and Innovative Graphic Solutions for Canadian Federal Election Coverage

Bannister Lake played an essential role providing Canadian broadcast and online audiences with live election results during the Oct. 21 national election. In addition to providing the editorial tools to producers, Bannister Lake enabled decision desks and graphic operators to identify key races, declare winners, and organize graphic playlists. The company also devised and implemented on-set touchscreen mapping widgets and social-media solutions.

This marks the 18th time Corus Entertainment’s Global Television Network has used Bannister Lake solutions to drive election coverage. Elector software was used to aggregate and manage election results and populate graphics that were rendered by four different engines: HTML5, Avid/Orad, Ross XPression, and Vizrt. This provided Global Television with multiple options to visualize election results and present them in exciting new ways. Graphics appeared as full frame, as part of the broadcast’s unique video wall, as regional L-bars, as augmented reality elements, and as online winner cards that were tweeted out.

The broadcast’s touch-enabled HTML5-based widgets proved to be a distinctive storytelling device. The solution allowed hosts to blend real-time data with demographics information on electoral district maps and walk viewers through trends and analysis. Since the solution was built entirely in HTML5, editorial and cosmetic changes could be executed quickly without reliance on other hardware or software systems.

“Having Bannister Lake data available on various endpoints meant we had maximum flexibility to tell the election night story,” said Gerry Belec, director news technology and operations, Global News. “Once again Bannister Lake ensured that both our editorial and production teams had the data and the tools to execute a great election night broadcast.”

At the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC) studios in Ottawa, Bannister Lake integrated election result feeds from the Canadian Press and producers fully utilized Elector to filter and display results. CPAC took full advantage of Elector’s advanced capabilities to filter regions and quickly identify important developments such as incumbents or high-profile candidates losing or being re-elected. In turn, CPAC could quickly create graphic playlists for use on-air.

“Elector race software gave us the ability to parse the incoming results quickly and zero in on important voting trends,” said Steve Rifkin, manager digital content, CPAC. “This allowed us to instantly deliver results to our audience.” 

“Over the years we have developed a deep understanding of election data and know that producers require a straightforward approach to pull insights out of results data,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “It is always satisfying to see broadcasters using our tools in innovative ways to reach Canadians on such an important event.”

Bannister Lake’s Elector software is Canada’s trusted election-data solution, providing broadcasters with the widest and most complete variety of tools to analyze, filter, and display election results. For U.S. and other style of elections, the company’s Chameleon product comes equipped with an election module suitable for aggregating and managing results and displaying graphics.

Bannister Lake’s Elector Software to Play Key Role Keeping Canadians Informed for Upcoming Election Day Coverage

Canadians go to the polls on October 21 and once again Bannister Lake is providing two national broadcasters with complete election management solutions. Bannister Lake clients Global Television and CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel, (Canada’s version of C-Span) will be using the company’s Elector software to produce election night coverage. Elector allows producers to instantly see and track real-time results, take advantage of advanced filtering to zero in on specific races, make race calls and quickly and accurately create graphic playlists for broadcast. 

Elector features a multi-user, web-based user interface making the product accessible to production teams anywhere. Producers and analysts can quickly and accurately spot voting trends and translate those trends into powerful graphic presentations. Graphics can then be dragged and dropped and organized into playlists in preparation for broadcast. Elector’s Restful API can be used to strategically distribute real-time data content to online destinations, widgets, mobile devices and augmented reality and virtual reality systems.

“Election night is an important opportunity to not only bring audiences up-to-the second results but to use that data to identify regional, demographic and historic shifts, and present it all with spectacular graphics,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “Elector provides production teams with the tools to easily reveal those trends and clearly communicate to viewers how results are unfolding.”

Elector is an election results solution engineered and designed exclusively for Canadian elections; however, Bannister Lake’s popular Chameleon data management product includes an election module that supports U.S. and any other election process. Like Elector, Chameleon election data can feed multiple broadcast graphic engines, online, mobile and other broadcast visualization systems. Bannister Lake is expanding its election offerings with data driven web widgets that allow online users to customize data to specific electoral districts to access local information and analysis.

In addition to Elector, Bannister Lake will provide Global and CPAC with a variety of professional services, including coordination with the Canadian Media Election Consortium to ensure results data is fully optimized for the Elector product.

 

 

 

 

 

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon Data Management Solution Powers Hamilton, Ontario-Based Cable 14’s New On-Air Look

Bannister Lake announced today that Cable 14, serving Hamilton, Ontario and surrounding communities, has successfully implemented the company’s Chameleon data management and aggregation solution to control and visualize data content on its broadcasts. Cable 14’s mission is to showcase and promote the local area and to keep viewers informed of local news, sports, and events.

Bannister Lake contributed to Cable 14’s important mission by developing and adding new data readers covering the Canadian University Football League and Ontario Hockey League. Bannister Lake also improved the channel’s ability to manage and visualize Twitter-based content as well as local traffic cameras.

Chameleon’s automation features played a key role in simplifying and streamlining the management of data feeds to help ensure content was continuously refreshed and that stale content automatically expired. Chameleon’s integration with Cable 14’s traffic system now allows the station to provide automated “Coming Up Next” snipes and billboards to promote upcoming programming.

“The Cable 14 implementation underlines our unique abilities to not only develop and read a wide variety of data feeds, but to also allow our clients to take full advantage of automation to optimize those feeds to meet their editorial objectives,” said Danny Ljubisic, director of business development and project management, Bannister Lake. “We were able to deliver this solution to Cable 14 in record time and ensure that their launch was successful.”

Cable 14’s new on-air presentation integrates social media and other local news sources to deliver compelling, hyper-local information that can only be found on its broadcasts. It also includes up-to-date sports scores and schedules from both local and professional sports teams and leagues. 

“As we kick off our 50th broadcast season, Cable 14 continues to evolve and deliver to cable television subscribers the best local content available on television and online,” said Bill Custers, senior manager, broadcast for Cable 14. “Cable 14 has been, is, and always will be, about Hamilton. This innovative, fresh look, facilitated by the Bannister Lake team, enables us to continue to exceed the expectations of our viewers every single hour.”

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon data management and aggregation solution is used by broadcasters, signage operators, and event producers to control and display a wide variety of diverse data feeds including news, sports, elections, financial, and wagering content.

 

 

 

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon: The Other Canadian Champion at the 2019 US Open Tennis Championships

Bianca Andreescu’s spectacular win at the US Open Tennis Championships was an exciting moment for women’s tennis and for the entire country of Canada. As Canadians, we are thrilled for Bianca and excited to have handled the complexities of data management and aggregation for the US Open for the second straight year.

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon is the engine behind organizing the massive number of XML files and graphics that were strategically distributed and visualized on over 20 different video displays located throughout the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. The various screens were viewed by a record number of 737,872 fans who attended this year’s event.

Real-time data on this scale presents enormous challenges. Bannister Lake’s technical and creative director, Al Savoie and the Bannister Lake development team were faced with reading and ingesting a wide variety of live data feeds from various sources, in various formats, including a new scoring system. The feeds then had to be organized within the Chameleon database and using the solution’s RESTful API distributed to specific screens-all of which had different editorial requirements, various graphical layouts and different dimensions. Some screens were formatted in portrait, some were ribbons, some landscape, and new this year were fascia displays courtside in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Outside of practice courts producers would display upcoming schedules, player biographies, schedules and brackets, however the screens located outside the main stadiums could display subsets of the live action data; serve speeds, number of aces, unforced errors and other game specific data. Producers have come to understand that the signage displays are most engaging and effective when the live data content is relevant and targeted. Due to the nature of the competition, content was often substituted updated and versioned depending on events. Chameleon’s unique strength is the ability to utilize its query and RESTful functionality in tandem, to organize data to create datasets that have a specific editorial function.

Live Chameleon data was quickly called up using a “match ID” system that Savoie was instrumental in developing. This would confirm that the correct headshots, bios and stats would quickly and automatically be loaded with a simple match ID entry. This dramatically sped up workflows, eased pressure on operators in the control room and ensured consistent editorial accuracy.

Like Bianca, Bannister Lake looks forward to the challenges at next year’s US Open and are confident we’ll once again both perform like champions.

 

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon Closings Module Utilizes Web Connectivity to Alert Viewers

As the school year kicks off, Bannister Lake is ensuring that audiences across all platforms are properly and consistently informed about school closings. The Closings module within Bannister Lake’s Chameleon data management solution works in concert with the company’s Community cloud-based public access portal to make it easier for local television and community information channels to aggregate and distribute closing alerts to their viewers. When inclement weather, emergency situations, or labor disruptions arise, Closings provides schools, houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions the ability to quickly alert the public of cancellations or schedule changes.

The Closings module is included with Chameleon and enables broadcasters to group and playlist sets of institutions by type or geographic region. This capability allows tickers and other graphics to display organized sets of impacted institutions to inform audiences more effectively. A status function within Closings allows institutions to quickly and easily update their status when conditions change, ensuring that viewers are always kept up to date.

The Community portal is also included with Chameleon and provides an easy-to-use and secure gateway for institutions to enter predetermined closure-related details for broadcast. In addition, Google Sheets can be used to create a collaborative closings notification workflow that can be shared across an entire campus, or with a multi-location institution, spread over a large geographic area that requires a centralized management process.

“Chameleon’s Closings and Community modules work in tandem to deliver crucial closing information to viewers,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “We’ve developed a solution that allows broadcasters and the public to join forces and get this specific kind of news on the air quickly and accurately.”

Chameleon’s on-board RESTful API allows users to create subsets and reformat closings data and distribute content to web pages, mobile devices, and digital signage systems. Data can also drive custom web widgets to take advantage of animation and mapping to improve the dissemination and presentation of information to reach more viewers online.

Beyond Closings, Community can also be used to drive a variety of hyper-local content types that originate with viewers, including local sports scores, community events calendars, and public service announcements. 

 

Bannister Lake Complements Broadcast Election Data Solutions With Sophisticated Online and Mobile Capabilities

 

With both Canada and the United States gearing up for national elections, Bannister Lake is now offering media organizations innovative web-based solutions to complement and augment their on-air presentations and dramatically expand election coverage. Bannister Lake HTML5-based web widgets use multiple static and real-time data sources to provide online and mobile audiences with easy-to-navigate, map-based visualizations to dig deeper into contextual election data. As broadcast audiences continue to drift online, the solution provides broadcasters with an opportunity to retain audiences with dynamic election graphics synchronized with their on-air presentations.

Bannister Lake’s development team has taken full advantage of the React JavaScript Framework to build web solutions that are lightweight, fully responsive, and run on the client side. This approach efficiently manages large volumes of election data while dramatically speeding up data retrieval and allowing users to access the solution on any device.

“At Bannister Lake we chose to develop web widgets that fully leverage the client side to avoid each query going back to the server,” said Bannister Lake President Georg Hentsch. “This provides a far superior user experience. And by incorporating live results, key demographic data, historical voting patterns, or other important data — all run through our unique development approach — producers can create more compelling journalism.”

The highly visual, animated, and interactive web widgets allow users to easily navigate directly to specific election races, districts, or regions to retrieve results. This capability provides broadcasters with more editorial options, allowing their on-air productions to focus on national trends, background, key races, and upsets, while the online presentation can provide a more localized and interactive presentation. Web widgets can be embedded directly into web pages or into applications to take full advantage of audiences using any device.

Web widgets can also be incorporated into on-set presentations via touch-screen displays, allowing presenters to walk viewers through important races and examine election trends.

Bannister Lake offers broadcasters two powerful election software products; Elector, designed for parliamentary style elections and Chameleon, which is equipped with an election module geared toward U.S. elections. Both solutions allow producers to take full advantage of Bannister Lake’s industry-leading query, data management, and RESTful API capabilities.

Web widgets expand upon Bannister Lake’s expertise in handling election results data while creating exciting new opportunities for journalists to target online and mobile audiences.

Playing to Win – eSports Production with Real-Time Data-Driven Graphics

Published in Digital Media World July 2019

eSports events are becoming more sophisticated in terms of both the in-venue experience and the broadcast or streaming presentation. Tournament organisers are raising their game in production value and editorial enhancements, using high quality production talent and equipment.

According to Vern Freedlander, Strategic Partnerships at Bannister Lake, these developments are a response to the growing popularity of eSports around the world. Bannister Lake, Canadian software developers for the broadcast and digital signage industries, has gained a lot of experience in recent years serving the real-time data and visualisation needs of eSports productions.

Vern said, “Spectacular venues such as Red Bull’s Hanger 7 in Salzburg, Germany’s Nurburgring motorsports track, and Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz arena are hosting eSports tournaments. Events not only sell out major arenas, but millions of fans also watch on Twitch and YouTube to see competitors battle it out for serious cash prize pools.

“On the surface, eSports production resembles other sports broadcasts – mobile trucks, multiple cameras on jibs, slick video clips, impressive sets and lighting. However, what distinguishes eSports is the innovative use of graphics and the real-time data that populates the graphics. Esports tournaments are data-intensive, and new techniques to organise and display data are needed not only to make the events more visually compelling, but also to communicate fast-moving, complex information to fans.”

The Fan Experience

Conveying and enhancing the excitement of eSports at the arena and for fans watching on their devices requires graphics that add important information about the players and teams and takes advantage of the real-time aspect of these fast-paced games. “Unlike conventional sports coverage that follows the action of a single game with two teams competing, an eSports event will involve several games played over a two- or three-day period, while multiple teams compete simultaneously,” said Vern.

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon data aggregation and management system ingests multiple real-time data feeds and allows producers to organise, edit and moderate data content, and then populate graphics with customised data for display.

More than XML or RSS feeds, producers can simultaneously use Chameleon to manage and display diverse sets of editorial content that enhance the fan experience. Virtually any data source can be incorporated into the production. For example, topical event news generated by the tournament’s editorial teams, such as player profiles, standings, game schedules, and outstanding achievements, can be ingested through Google Sheets. This content may populate an L-Bar surrounding the game as a way to complement the action.

Moderated social media content can be included to create an interactive fan experience. Third-party feeds such as eSports industry news, weather, and events calendars can also be included.  

Revenue Opportunities

Chameleon can also manage advertising and sponsorship-related content, forming an important revenue opportunity for event producers. Sponsor logos can be triggered at appropriate times or branded content may appear within the L-Bar, for example. Vern noted, “The addition of game-related data pulled directly from the game’s API creates an entirely new level of excitement. Fans can view specific game-related data content aggregated, visualised and displayed alongside the actual game.

“For die-hard fans looking for key stats, the visualisation of API data adds a strong sense of engagement. Furthermore, game data can be coordinated to trigger other content when thresholds are met or when specific events occur. For example, if a team or player reaches a specific milestone, a special promotional ad may run automatically.”

eSports and Databases

Bannister Lake’s approach to data management is unusual in the production industry and opens up various possibilities for production and editorial. The method revolves around the use of attaching key value pairs around a standard relational database. “A typical sports database is made up of a series of standardised fields that corresponds to that particular sport and very rarely changes. eSports on the other hand are dramatically different with datasets that vary from game to game and may or may not be used in production,” said Vern.

“Bannister Lake allows users to add new tables as a companion to the core data. The underlying technique is to take these incoming diverse datasets and organise them in databases that support exceptionally fast recall. This creates a production system that is more flexible and allows producers to act as editors and add or delete datasets on the fly – depending on the game, the audience and the production’s editorial needs.”

Controlling and Expanding Data

The system’s API and Query functionality allows producers to take this further and distribute data content to specific end points. For example, fans who are following a team from Brazil could receive data only relevant to that team and receive customised ads and sponsorships that centre on that market.

Beyond in-venue signage and the broadcast streams, custom data can be distributed to web pages or mobile devices, enhancing the eSports experience while opening up new market opportunities. It can also drive entirely new ways of conveying eSports data such as augmented reality and virtual reality. Having more control over data, its management, and where it is ultimately distributed will most likely result in completely new ways of reaching eSports audiences.   

Vern said, “As the broadcast and AV communities continue to experiment with big data, the challenge remains in how to strategically harness data and present it in ways that enhance storytelling and drive new revenue opportunities.

“The need for web-based systems that can be implemented quickly in complex data-rich production environments, such as eSports, is critical. It is only by taking full control of fast-moving data and marrying it with great graphic design that producers, sponsors and above all, fans will fully realise the excitement and business potential of eSports.   www.bannisterlake.com

Published in Digital Media World July 2019

 

 

Bannister Lake Takes on the Gran Turismo eSports Championships at the Legendary Nürburgring Track in Germany

For the second year in a row, Bannister Lake has partnered with Montreal’s Boombox Group to provide live data management and populate graphics for the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships 2019 Series. The June 21-22 event took place at the renowned Nürburgring Track in Germany, home of the world’s most challenging 24-hour motorsports endurance race.

Bannister Lake software and expertise in live data management were used extensively throughout the event to read Google Sheets, ingest and moderate real-time social media feeds, and consolidate data for the competition’s various races. The solution’s data was used to drive graphics both in-venue and on the various broadcast streams.

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon software has quickly become a popular data management solution for international eSports events. Producers and event organizers use the product to add engaging content such as player and team profiles, event schedules, standings, and sponsorship information without taking away from the excitement of the game.

“It’s great to bring Chameleon on location at the Nürburgring. The track has an illustrious history in racing, and we’re thrilled to be part of the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships,” said Al Savoie, Bannister Lake’s technical and creative director. “Throughout the series we will be finding new and exciting ways to integrate data into the production and leverage live data content to allow producers to tell more compelling Gran Turismo stories.”

The Nürburgring event featured 55 of the world’s best Gran Turismo drivers from 20 countries competing in the Manufacturer Series, the Nations Cup, and GR Supra GT Cup. Winners moved on to participate in racing events that will be held in New York, Salzburg, and the finals scheduled for October in Tokyo. Chameleon will be used throughout the FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships 2019 racing series to enhance editorial content and fuel new revenue opportunities for event organizers.