Advanced Systems Group Teams With California’s Del Norte Unified School District for Remote Live Streaming

Advanced Systems Group (ASG) is collaborating with California’s Del Norte Unified School District (DNUSD) in the implementation of a remotely controlled, local area network that streams sports, academic events and other activities. Fourteen BirdDog PTZ NDI cameras are spread throughout the rural district’s campuses, with staff directing the streaming output from one central operations center. Broadfield Distributing served as official distributor of the BirdDog cameras.

Like a lot of innovation over the past year and a half, the initial driver was COVID restrictions.

“We’re a small, rural community with a huge, diehard community of superfans and a lot of senior citizens who’ve lived here their entire lives and follow the school events,” explains Michael Hawkins, Director of Communications, DNUSD. “We’d been thinking of creating a live streaming system like this for a long time. Last summer, the State of California limited the number of guests who could attend graduation ceremonies and large events. The graduation date became our deadline to get this done. Not seeing your grandchild graduate, participate in a school concert, or watch your graduating high school senior play in a final game was a huge blow to the quality of life for our community members. We wanted to get this set up for everyone in time for graduation and beyond.”

The cameras were selected based on BirdDog cameras’ fully featured NDI capabilities, which utilize high definition, uncompressed video quality, compatible with any broadcasting software that integrates with NDI. Using the NDI specification, users can work on any network and in the cloud with the highest quality video at the lowest latency. BirdDog not only sells indoor cameras, but also offers external PTZ cameras, which the school district requires. The company’s A200 and A300 cameras are weatherproof, with IP67-rated enclosure and ideal for deploying with a single CAT cable for video, audio, camera control and Power over Ethernet. The P200 and other models are perfectly designed for in-classroom usage.

The DNUSD IT department installed the first three BirdDog cameras at the Del Norte High football field just in time for graduation last June – one camera in the announcer’s booth and two high atop light poles to provide consistent coverage of events that take place there. All of the district’s middle school ceremonies and its high school graduation were held there.

“This is a fantastic showcase of the power of NDI and BirdDog PTZ cameras,” says Eamon Drew, Co-Founder & CMO of BirdDog. “We’re humbled that our gear played a part in enabling these important human connections through the pandemic.”

The system installed was also used to live stream the 2021-22 football season. The district received such positive responses from the live stream offering, they installed BirdDog PTZ cameras at five additional locations for other indoor and outdoor sports.

Being a small rural community, the Del Norte Unified School District has one functioning auditorium in all of Del Norte County – at Crescent Elk Middle School. The middle school is located two miles away from Del Norte High and the district’s live-streaming headquarters. The district’s IT department installed three cameras at the Crescent Elk auditorium to livestream performing arts events. The events are now streamed remotely from district headquarters.

To leverage the power of NDI and live-streaming even further, DNUSD utilize the tool Restream to duplicate its livestream simultaneously across multiple platforms, including Youtube, Facebook, the school district website, and other services.

“NDI was the initial draw to the BirdDog cameras because we’re very rural,” says Ryan Bahten, Director of Information Network Services, DNUSD. “We have 4,500 students in the largest geographic school district in the state. In terms of durability, there are no other PTZ camera built as solid as these. With all the wind and rain we get in the Pacific Northwest, that was important to us. And the video quality is full NDI, which is unlike most PTZ models. We have the network to handle it, so we want to make our coverage as good as possible.”

In 2018 DNUSD underwent an extensive, four-million-dollar upgrade to its network infrastructure, so capacity was never a concern. Range, durability and video quality were foremost in the minds of Hawkin’s team.

“We dial in from a central location, which is our everyday office, and we can access cameras from a high school auditorium, basketball court, football field or soccer field – which are scattered across a large campus,” says Dan Gustafson, Network Systems Analyst, DNUSD. “We can take the feeds instantaneously with almost no set up and get a very high-quality live stream sent to our families. As a small district, we don’t have the staff to cover multiple different teams at all of their locations, so this was necessary to make this work.”

Hawkins went on to add, “Currently, we have three cameras in the Crescent Elk Middle School Auditorium. At Del Norte High School, there are multiple indoor cameras installed for basketball, volleyball, and wrestling. For our outdoor sports at Del Norte High, we have cameras at our soccer, baseball, softball, and football fields. We are currently in the process of installing cameras at our outdoor tennis courts and near our track fields. After we finish these installations, we plan on building out streaming capacity at all of our middle schools across the county to begin offering live-streaming to our community and career technical education to students interested in broadcasting and live-streaming.”

“This is the first school we’re aware of doing long-distance streaming from a centralized location over NDI like this,” says Dave Van Hoy, President, Advanced Systems Group. “It shows the true power and flexibility possible with NDI. We’re excited to contribute to a project as innovative as what the communications team at Del Norte Unified School District accomplished. I expect their pioneering work will become more commonplace as others discover the potential of NDI.”

ASG Key Account Manager John Shike consulted on DNUSD’s camera selection, the NDI infrastructure, technical issues encountered during installation, and even tracking down parts. “John really stepped up to the plate,” said Hawkins. “He dedicated all his time to making sure we had everything we needed. He was the bridge between us and any problems we faced along the way. The entire company was just a great resource from consultation, to distribution, and just being good people. They were of huge value to us in every way.”

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