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School District Adds Streaming Video System

The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township integrates a cost-effective video capture and distribution system on its fiber optic infrastructure.

To address the problem, Woods and Jack Polson, network manager for the MSD, worked with Noblesville, IN-based systems integrator IDSolutions to install VBrick's EtherneTV solution.

“The school district had a basic design in mind, and the 1 Gigabit Ethernet network meant there was plenty of bandwidth to stream video over the network,” says Zac Cook, regional sales director for the Midwest region at IDSolutions. “The goal for the first application was the ability to distribute video signals through the network and capture the content on a video-on-demand (VOD) server.”

The install includes 19 VBrick Model 4200 MPEG-4 encoders and 19 VBrick EtherneTV-STB set-top boxes, each placed at the head end of the media center inside each of the 19 buildings. One VBrick Model 4300 dual encoder, which provides MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 compression, was also installed at the high school head end.

“The actual install was done over the late spring,” Cook says. “It didn't take long since the system runs over the existing IP network. We just needed power and input jacks.”

Now, with EtherneTV up and running, MSD's teachers and students can log into the IP network and view live video or content streamed from the server. Video signals are decoded from the head end and are distributed throughout the building via the existing, coax closed-circuit TV network to the TVs in each classroom. To make the transition from coax to fiber, the school used the VBrick system, Cisco routers, and HP ProCurve switches. Each Zenith TV includes a built-in scan converter that receives a signal from a teacher's computer via a VGA cable. To see the current broadcast, users can tune to a modulated channel on the cable network or watch the live broadcast from any computer in each of the school district's classrooms.

As a feature of the EtherneTV system, live video can also be saved for later viewing on a VBrick EtherneTV-NXG VOD video server located in the central distribution center in the MSD's NOC. A VBrick EtherneTV Media Control Server was also installed to manage the EtherneTV system, including the interface that allows users to access the video-on-demand library.

Active directory

One of the biggest technical challenges occurred when the team integrated EtherneTV with Microsoft Active Directory, a system used district-wide for network user login.

“We have an extensive Active Directory system,” says Polson, who also oversees MSD's VBrick gear. “From day one, every student gets a username and password, as well as server space for document storage,”

The school district wanted to use the authentication and rights of Active Directory to grant access to content and features on the EtherneTV system. IDSolutions worked closely with Woods and Polson to identify the necessary programming and integrate the setup of Active Directory and EtherneTV. Technical support personnel from VBrick headquarters got involved to help establish a connection to Warren's Active Directory users and groups, which allowed students and staff to log into the VBrick system with their current usernames and passwords.

The install team also needed to modify the EtherneTV software to enable the district's media specialists (who oversee the licensing, content updates, and other media requirements for several schools) to provide access and control for the video files they produce. Because the high school's media specialists needed the ability to create and modify videos before publishing them to the VOD server, VBrick worked with the install team to develop special software that allows authorized media specialists to rename video files after uploading them to the network.

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