Kagiso New Media and Jacaranda FM plan to run a proof of concept project in the next few days that will see the two Kagiso Media companies investigating the viability of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as a means of providing real-time, reliable traffic updates to Gauteng’s residents. This follows several successful test flights using a remote-controlled, helicopter-like drone. The initiative is one of the first uses of UAVs in South Africa’s media industry.
The UAV will observe traffic congestion on the N1 highway, to provide up-to-the-minute online video feeds of traffic conditions during peak hours. Jacaranda FM’s presenters will use the feed to enrich their on-air traffic reports. In addition, anyone can view the feed live on Jacaranda FM’s website (jacarandafm.com), on both PCs and mobile devices, and through live Twitter updates (@jaca_traffic).
The proof of concept will last 15 days, with the UAV in action every weekday from 7am to 8am and 4pm to 5pm, and follow the safety guideline set by the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA). After this, Kagiso Media plans to use UAVs more extensively to provide audiences with traffic information, live footage from events, and aerial, on-the-scene coverage of major news events as they unfold.
Attila Bernariusz, Kagiso New Media’s GM of Operations, says: “At a group level, Kagiso Media is always looking for innovative ways to bring our audience converged services that add value to their lives. The proof of concept – a collaboration between Kagiso New Media and Jacaranda FM – weaves together radio and digital technology in a really exciting way. Pending the results of this proof of concept, we look forward to operating a fleet of UAVs that will bring our Web and radio audience up-to-the-minute news and information.”
From Jacaranda FM’s perspective, this project promises a significant competitive edge, since the radio station will be able to provide accurate traffic information to its listeners in real time, says Jacaranda FM General Manager Kevin Fine.
“In a metropolitan area with so many traffic issues, this offering will save our audience a lot time and hassle. We see it as a potential revolution not only in traffic reporting, but also in news reporting. It’s another innovative avenue that keeps us connected to our audience” he adds.
It’s prohibitively expensive to use helicopters to monitor the traffic situation in Gauteng, so radio stations depend on reports from listeners via social media and the phone, says Fine. But the UAV provides Jacaranda with a low cost way to get objective, up-to-date traffic information that it can pass on to listeners via the airwaves. Even better, they’ll be able to look at the feed themselves to get a fix on traffic when they’re planning their routes to and from work.
“The UAV industry is in its infancy in South Africa, but many industries worldwide have adopted UAVs to simplify their tasks and improve the quality of work – among them film, agriculture, photographers, and real estate development,” says Craig Corte, Chief Digital Officer at Kagiso Media.
“We believe that UAV technology is an integral step into a future of transparent communications and information because it provides real time data when people need it. We plan to be at the forefront of this technological boom so that we can capitalise on the many opportunities which it will provide.”
Live content delivery provider, Antfarm will be responsible for the video streaming bandwidth for the proof of concept. Antfarm is supporting Kagiso with technical skills, stream encoding, hardware and software, and distribution of the streaming video via the Antfarm content delivery network.
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