When Minutes Matter: How NBCUniversal Local Uses Technology to Capture Fast-Breaking News Safely

February 26, 2024

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Christina Lee

Senior Customer Advocacy Manager


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NBCUniversal Local—the local media division of NBCUniversal—delivers local sports, news, weather, consumer and investigative reporting, and lifestyle entertainment to English- and Spanish-speakers in 31 U.S. markets and Puerto Rico. The division is comprised of three individual media groups, which include the NBC Owned Television Stations, the NBC Sports Regional Networks, and the Telemundo Station Group. In this blog post, NBCU Local shares how they use technology to cover the news safely.

The news doesn't wait for ideal traffic and weather conditions. That’s one reason why NBCUniversal Local has made it a top priority to get their news crews where they need to go quickly and safely. “We want to serve our audience with accurate information, and getting to an event as fast and safely as possible matters,” explained Robert Nino, the organization’s Technical Product Manager of Field Technology.

Robert and his team are there to support news crews and other field staff so that they can do their jobs safely. “As a media organization, NBCU Local's top priority is to cover the stories that matter most to the audiences in the communities we serve,” said Robert. To do so, NBCU Local relies on Samsara to capture a range of data, including vehicle location, battery life, and more.

For NBCU Local—and other organizations that require rapid response to quickly changing environments—data-driven insights play a vital role in keeping employees safe while serving their audiences or customers. Here are four ways Samsara enables the NBCU Local team to do their jobs safely in challenging, fast-changing conditions. 

1. Weather overlays and real-time traffic help NBCU Local cover severe weather events.

When severe weather hits a community, the first thing many people do is turn on the TV to see the latest conditions and alerts. NBCU Local crews are often on the front lines traveling in potentially dangerous weather to deliver the latest news.

With Samsara, NBCU Local teams are able to get up-to-date information to make better decisions about where to send their crews. “Samsara’s weather overlay and the real-time traffic we get with Samsara have been a real differentiator for us,” said Robert. “We use helicopter view and can see where vehicles are located, we know the traffic patterns, and we can move crews from where they are to get to those locations.”

Robert described fast-changing weather conditions during severe storms as one example. “During hurricanes, our teams in Miami closely monitor the weather trucks and the track of the storm so they can position crews in safe locations,” he said. “They can tell them to go east or west of the storm, or go to higher ground, for example. In the past, without weather overlay, they had to guess where the storm was, which isn't the safest.”

2. Geofences help NBCU Local quickly find safe staging areas near news events.

Live news crews are under immense pressure to find locations, set up their shots, and deliver the news on time. NBCU Local uses Samsara to make it easier for their crews to get to the scene quickly and safely, and ensure that field crews have all the information they need to capture a story. 

As Robert explained: “Recently, the Los Angeles Lakers were playing a huge game. It was a big story with a lot of interest, and the area around arena is often crowded with a lot of people and cars. We used Samsara to set up a geofence around the arena so our crews knew exactly where to park. Not only can we get crews to locations quickly, but we can enable them to get the news faster, and make sure they’re staying safe while doing so.”

NBCU Local also uses Proximity Search to indicate ideal locations for video or photography. “If there's a storm, we can indicate where news crews can find the best location for capturing footage of giant waves on the shore, for example,” Robert said. “It makes getting everything they need for a story much easier.”

3. Diagnostic alerts ensure news vehicles are ready when needed.

When unexpected events happen, news crews need to be ready to travel at a moment’s notice. If their vehicles aren’t ready, however, they won’t be able to get the story. “If someone takes a station vehicle and leaves the lights on, they won’t be able to get the car running without impacting the coverage for the rest of the day,” Robert said.

With Samsara, NBCU Local crews can monitor vehicle battery levels across their fleet, so crews are alerted when the charge is too low. “Our crew will get an alert if their car’s battery is low. They can go start the car and let it run a few minutes, and then proactively take it in for maintenance later,” said Robert. “It may seem minor, but it takes the pressure off our crews so they don’t have to worry about what’s going on with their vehicles. They can just focus on the priorities of getting a story and making good TV.”

Along with greater awareness of battery life, NBCU Local has also used Samsara to gain visibility into engine idling and find creative ways to address it. “We saw in our Samsara idling reports that crews out covering a story might be idling all day,” said Robert. “With that data, we were able to create a battery system that greatly reduced engine idling, and we were able to see a quick return on our investment.”

4. Integrated data connects NBCU Local’s offices to the field to support crews more effectively.

For news organizations, close communication between crews on the ground and the back office assignment desk is essential for doing their jobs safely and efficiently. “Samsara ties into our scheduling tool and gives us one consolidated view for routing, DVIRs, alerts, and more so we can make sure all of this is ready for teams in the field,” said Robert.

NBCU Local also uses the Samsara Driver App as a repository of information that supports crews in the field. “We use the Driver App to give crews easy access to important documents that they need,” said Robert. “We include everything from vehicle registration, to technical standard operating procedures for setting up equipment and cabling, to our EHS policies. Getting on live TV can be a scramble, so having one place to find everything our crews need has been a game changer for us.”

No matter what the news day brings, Samsara helps NBCU Local crews be better prepared and do their jobs more effectively. As Robert puts it: “We can be competitive and get the story without sacrificing safety.”

To learn more about the solutions that enable the NBCU Local team, such as Samsara Vehicle Telematics, and how they can help your organization, click here.


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