2016 US Election Coverage

This was a biggie! Results systems in Azure, and graphics automation in 3 studios, on 3 sites across 2 continents. Find out how we did it!

BBC News Logo

The Scenario

The BBC needed a results system that could:

  • ingest data from Associated Press
  • have independent and direct entry of state projections
  • feed BBC On Line as well as the graphics systems
  • provide web based enquiry screens for it's journalists across On Line, Radio and TV

The graphics were to be split across three studios:

  • the Emily Maitlis touch screen was to be located in the Reuters studio in New York (the program was to be anchored from here)
  • Jeremy Vine's VR graphics would come from Studio A at BBC Broadcasting House in London
  • and last but not least, the lower thirds and full forms were to be overlayed by the output gallery in the BBC's Westminster studios

Our Solution

Idonix built a hybrid cloud and on-premise system based on their Ignition framework. Dave Quinn and Tom Chafer-Cook describe the technology and workflow in the video below.

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Results

Idonix built a system that pulled raw vote data from AP's GET API. It calculated and derived addtional data, for example change in vote share and swing, and provided data entry screens for state projections. Results were then published to BBC Digital's API, and replicated into the graphics control Ignition instances. A web based enquiry client was also provided for the BBC's team of journalists.

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Graphics

Three Ignition servers controlling the Emily Maitlis touch screen in the Reuters New York studio, Jeremy Vine's VR graphics at Broadcasting House, and lower thirds, full forms and social media from the output gallery in Westminster. All graphics were rendered in Vizrt, designed and built by the BBC Visual Journalism team, with integration and scripting by Idonix.

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Ignition

Our Ignition architecture was perfect for this project: rapid development, easy deployment and high performance, with redundancy and replication across multiple sites. We used our standard Windows client for the graphics control system, and built a responsive HTML5 web client for results enquiry that worked across desktops, tablets and phones.

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Azure

All our results system functions were hosted in Azure. Two Ignition functions - results ingest, data entry and API's on one, and scalable enquiry server instances on the second. All utilised Azure availability sets and application gateways for scalability and resilience. For additional we hosted an additional replication partner inside the BBC's corporate network.

Benefits

The BBC election coverage achieved an average of 1.1 million viewers, with twice the share of it's nearest rivals. Idonix played a big part in this success with our fast, accurate, fluid and flawless results and graphics systems.