Broadcast TV Delivers Secure Live Data & Video to First Responders


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), SpectraRep, West Pond Technologies, and Houston Public Media (KUHT-TV) together improved information sharing at super bowl LI demonstrating how datacasting can enhance FirstNet – the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet, like existing mobile phone LTE networks, is optimized for one-to-one communications. Datacasting, being derived from broadcast TV, is optimized for one-to-many communications. Video is bandwidth intensive and can inflict a heavy network load, especially as more users attempt to view the stream. This is of greater concern on wireless networks, where it is often not possible to provide additional capacity.

Goals & Challenges:

  1. Deliver high quality and secure live video and data to all public safety personnel involved in an incident without incurring excessive load on the LTE network
  2. Deliver live video & files to a select group of public safety personnel without exposing the content to other users on the network
  3. Tightly integrate with the LTE to demonstrate how datacasting can enhance FirstNet
  4. Provide quality, high availability, professional grade equipment suitable for use in a broadcast TV environment or EOC
  5. Supply highly secure encryption technology, content targeting, and a key management system to prevent unauthorized access to the datacasting media
  6. Provide a variety of datacasting receivers and software including single client USB receivers and multi-client networked receiver routers
  7. Flexible an APIs to enable SpectraRep’s IncidentOne to control all WPT equipment


The solution is based upon SpectraRep’s IncidentOne™ network technology and West Pond’s FlexStream Datacasting Technology. The FlexStream MX-400SR, MX-400IO, RR-ST1000, and RR-AR300M are key components of the datacasting network. This equipment provides a portal through which datacasting media is injected into the broadcast TV network and then received by authorized network users. In Houston, the PBS member station KUHT provides the broadcast TV datacasting bandwidth and as such was outfitted with the FlexStream MX-400SR. Datacasting receivers were enabled in patrol cars, mobile operations centers, municipal buildings, key private offices and helicopters. USB receive devices enabled individual users while the RR-ST1000 receiver/router was used to enable devices on LANs and WLANs within vehicles and buildings. The University of Houston and the Houston Police Department emergency operations center were each equipped with a FlexStream MX-400IO. These two locations have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of live security cameras which become datacasting media assets during an emergency incident. The MX-400IO provides live encoding of the security camera video and transmits that to the MX-400SR at the TV station (KUHT). This transmission leverages a secure adaptive bitrate encoding protocol developed specifically for datacasting.

West Pond provided the following technology and services for this solution:

  • West Pond’s FlexStream MX-400SR 1RU Datacasting Gateway
  • West Pond’s FlexStream MX-400IO 1RU Adaptive Bitrate Encoder
  • West Pond’s FlexStream RX-ST1000 Datacasting Receiver Router
  • West Pond’s Engineering Services team preconfigured and tested the unit for use with supporting equipment.
    West Pond’s FlexDM remote management service is used by the customer and West Pond support staff to monitor the MX-400SR
  • and MX-400IO devices during the event.

The following features of the FlexStream Datacasting System were utilized.

  • FlexStream provides AV Encoding, Data Encapsulation, TS multiplexing, Carousel Generation, Stream Management, Forward Error Correction, Content Encryption, Targeting, and Key Management subsystems for datacasting transmissions
  • Datacasting transmissions included file data from SpectraRep software and encoded AV from a variety of MX-400IO systems.
  • West Pond FlexDM remote management system provides SpectraRep and West Pond staff with access to the device from anywhere.
  • Dynamically controlled by SpectraRep software at the IncidentOne Data Center using the MX-400SR and MX-400IO management API.
  • Plug and play receiver/routers that enable LAN based user to receive datacasting alerts and media
  • IPDforPC application software enabled first responder devices with the ability to receive datacasting content from USB tuners or LAN based receiver routers

In Houston, where the West Pond, SpectraRep, FirstNet integration was performed, this technology has become an important component of the public safety network. It continues to be used for high profile events such as the 2016 Republican party presidential debate, emergency responses to the historic floods of 2016, and most recently the 2017 NFL Super Bowl.

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