TV Upgrade Calms Residents of Juvenile Prison


In a prison, boredom can cause upheaval. Residents of this Juvenile Prison attend school and other activities to fill most of their day. But it’s neither practical nor healthy to schedule minute. Unfortunately idle time can also brew tension between residents and tension can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation. A pilot program was created at the Juvenile Detention Center to see if upgrading the prison TVs and TV content would reduce tensions between residents. New flat screen HD TVs were installed and the hunt began for appropriate content that could hold the juvenile residents attention. The new content would be high definition media sourced from satellite receivers, terrestrial broadcast TV, recorded video files, IP cameras, DVD players, and digital signage players. The prison personnel were looking for a tightly integrated, highly versatile, smart headend system in order to produce the required TV channel lineup and special features a prison requires.

Goals & Challenges:

  1. Create a quality, high availability, digital TV headend solution that will provide continuous entertainment to hundreds of coax wired TVs saving the time and cost of rewiring multiple buildings.
  2. The channel lineup shall consist of 30 or more HD channels from a wide variety of sources including recorded video, DVD players, terrestrial broadcast TV, IP cameras, and HTML graphics.
  3. The solution should support future prison expansions that are expected to be wired for IPTV rather than coax RF.
  4. Storage is required for more than a thousand hours of recorded video.
  5. IT and AV professionals will manage the system remotely, but require the tools to do so.
  6. Some TVs will be restricted from accessing some channels.  This feature needed to be enforced electronically, without a set top box.
  7. With 30+ new channels, a guide channel listing the type of content on each channel was necessary.
  8. A mechanism that allows staff to quickly block a channel with offensive content when detected
  9. The system has to work with the existing TVs and without a set top box.
  10. Solution must be fit within a fixed fiscal budget


West Pond discussed with the client the pros and cons of multiple solutions before selecting one that would best fit their needs. To ensure a smooth transition from the current system, West Pond would pre-configure and test the hardware before shipping it for installation. The pre-configured system installed smoothly and prison technology professionals quickly implemented the remaining configuration changes and assumed management responsibilities for all daily operations. However, this being a pilot experiment, some changes would soon be needed. West Pond engineering services worked with the center’s staff to meet these new challenges as they arrived. This included channel restrictions on select TVs, expanded storage for an ever increasing number of video files, adding air quality alerts to the HTML5 information channel, and a rapid removal capability for offensive content. These unique features were added to the core products so others could leverage them on future installations.

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

  • West Pond’s FlexStream MX-400HY 1RU Smart Headend System (two units)
  • West Pond’s Engineering Services team preconfigured and tested the unit for use with supporting equipment to be installed with the MX-400HY.
  • West Pond’s Engineering Services team made the necessary enhancements to the MX-400HY software to support the unique needs of this customer’s application.
  • West Pond’s Creative Services team developed a custom video wrapper template to meet the customer’s needs.
  • West Pond’s FlexDM remote management service is used by the customer and West Pond support staff to transcode hundreds of video files and manage all aspects of the MX-400HY.

Special features of the MX-400HY were utilized to create a complete TV channel lineup.

  • TV channel content utilized video from transcoded files, DVD players via component video capture, SD satellite set top box via composite video capture, RTSP cameras, IPTV streams from remotely located encoders, and ATSC terrestrial TV (antenna).
  • A custom video wrapper template was implemented to create a TV channel with the prison logo, orientation video, date, time, weather, and local air quality. Future enhancements will include daily activities and cafeteria menus when the data is available.
  • A parental control override feature was created to ensure that some channels were inaccessible to some TVs.
  • Support for external USB 3.0 SSD storage was integrated into the MX-400 system software and enabled as extended storage for video content.
  • A web page was added to the prison LAN to provide a simple mechanism that unskilled staff could use to disable channels quickly without contacting IT for assistance.
  • West Pond FlexDM remote management system provides the prison and West Pond staff with transcoding services and access to the device from anywhere. This is especially important since the facilities’ technology professionals have their main offices more than an hour from the prison facility.

Since the initial installation, FlexDM has provided a portal through which the system was remotely managed by both the West Pond and prison staff. Using FlexDM, the staff transcoded thousands of video recordings into TV compatible transport streams. Once transcoded, they were downloaded to the MX-400HY where they were assigned to a genre specific playlist. Each playlist was assigned to a channel. The playlist would be changed weekly.

West Pond’s FlexStream MX-400HY smart headend system was the perfect match for juvenile prison use. Not only did it support the wide variety of video sources, have remote management capabilities, and be easy to install and operated, it now supports some special features that are key components of the pilot’s success. The project showed immediate results and is expected to be repeated at other California facilities.

Other Use Cases

Request a Demo!