Cablecast Community Media Platform Enhances HCAM


USA: Holbrook Community Access and Media, Inc., (HCAM) strives to constantly improve its informational and educational service to the residents of Holbrook, Massachusetts.

After selecting the Cablecast Community Media system to streamline their scheduling, playout and streaming workflows, HCAM has since realised further valuable benefits for enhancing their multi-platform video coverage of local government meetings.

Established in 2008, HCAM operates two cable television channels: one dedicated to Government Access, and the other a combination of Public Access and Educational programming. As its original automation and playout solution neared the end of its lifecycle, the station began looking for a system that was more than just a technical refresh.

"We needed to replace our technology with something more current, as the world had changed since we purchased our old system," said Zack Gorman, Executive Director at HCAM. "However, we wanted more than that. We decided to focus on the money and time we could save by purchasing a new platform, so we could free up our small staff to do other valuable activities - going out to cover more events, producing more content or engaging more with our community."

Gorman's research found Cablecast to be ideally suited to HCAM's goals. "Our old system needed too many manual steps in the process to get content out the door, but it was clear that Cablecast would streamline our workflows," he explained. "Its remote access capability was also a big deal for us, allowing us to use the system from home or anywhere in town on our phones if we needed to change something. With all of these benefits it was a 'no-brainer' for us to go with Cablecast, as it solves many problems for a small organisation like ours."

As attractive as those features were, subsequent software upgrades brought HCAM even more functionality to support its local government's transparency initiatives and reinforce the station's value to the town. "The ability for us to post meeting agendas alongside VOD clips is huge, especially for viewers but also for our staff members," said Gorman. "We need a place to put such documents when we receive them, so associating them with the meeting video is ideal. Viewers can read about the meeting and watch the video all in one place, and it helps us manage our library of documents while making them easier for our community to find. It's less taxing on our staff too, as residents can find what they're looking for themselves without calling us."

Cablecast's ability to add chapter markers to online VOD clips has proven similarly significant. For meetings that are broadcast live, HCAM adds chapter markers 'on the fly' in real time, while other recordings are chaptered after the fact. "Most residents don't have the time or interest to watch a whole two-hour meeting, but they care about one or two specific issues," Gorman explained. "They can simply click the chapter marker and jump right to the topic they want to watch. I'd love for people to watch everything we do, but we're in the customer service business, and features like these let us meet the specific needs and wants of the residents of Holbrook."

Gorman also points to Cablecast's seamlessly integrated broadcast, OTT and online publishing workflow as delivering valuable new efficiencies. "It's amazing how easy it is now," he praised. "We just drop a file into a folder on the desktop and it goes everywhere we need it to, without us needing to encode it, upload it and link to it. That seems like a simple thing, but it is really a huge advantage to us."

"Similarly, we can just click a button to share out a meeting - or even a specific chapter of a meeting - to social media when it's ready on VOD, without needing to copy and post links manually," he continued. "The whole package has made it faster and easier to turn a meeting around and get it out to the public. That keeps residents better informed, and our Selectmen and board members are glad to be offering greater transparency of how they arrive at their decisions."

As happy as HCAM is with the Cablecast platform, Gorman is equally enthused about the people behind it. "A lot of people on the Cablecast team come from the world we live in, and their commitment to PEG stations runs deep," he said. "They value what we do the same way we value it, and they're helping us be the best possible community media centre we can be. They have simplified my life and enabled us to provide better service to our community."
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