General Elections 2019: How news channels handled the broadcast - Part II

NDTV, News, Studio, Newsroom, Digital, Broadcast, Elections, Technology

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Continued from Part I

ON YOUR MARKS

The preparation for the big day began months in advance, since it was an anticipated planned event. First and foremost, Bedi had to design a layout including everything that he intended to present to the user, which included the most appealing infographics, formats, homepage, and data points. “We give a lot of importance to design, to ensure that it is easily comprehended and navigated by the audience,” added Bedi. Then came the second step of sending the layout to the technology team to render the design and gauge the feasibility of supporting the various elements on the page. “Then it’s time for the infrastructure team to see how they can optimise to scale for the traffic.


This process includes identifying the choke points on the page. This is where cloud computing stepped in,’ added Bedi. The infrastructure team pulled in an expert from each cloud computing platform, to analyse NDTV’s architecture and recommended tweaks to accommodate weak points which held the possibility of failing in situations where NDTV had to scale.

ON THE DAY OF THE ELECTION RESULTS, WE HAD WHAT IS CALLED AS A ‘WAR ROOM.’ ALL THE ENGINEERS AND DEVELOPERS WERE TOGETHER IN ONE LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM. WE ALSO HAD AWS SOLUTION ENGINEERS ALONG WITH US. IT’S A MONITORING STATION WITH ALL THE RIGHT PEOPLE WHO CAN FIX IF ANYTHING BREAKS. THEY MONITORED BOTTLENECKS AND RESOURCES, WHICH WERE CROSSING ACCEPTABLE THRESHOLDS, AND FIXED THEM ON THE FLY. WE HAD ALMOST 17 BILLION REQUESTS ON OUR SERVERS, AND THANKFULLY EVERYTHING WENT OFF FINE IN THOSE FEW HOURS.


Bedi narrated, “On the day of the election results, we had what is called as a ‘war room.’ All the engineers and developers were seated together in one large conference room. We also had AWS solution engineers along with us. Our ‘war room’ is a monitoring station with all the right people who can fix stuff if anything breaks. They monitored bottlenecks and resources, which were crossing acceptable thresholds, and fixed them on the fly. We had almost 17 billion requests on our servers, and thankfully everything went off fine in those few hours.” One of the challenges faced by Bedi, was the fact that election data doesn’t change at every instant. The page had to being refreshed after every ‘x’ seconds to accommodate updates. But this wasn’t the most efficient way, according to Bedi. “If there’s no update in those ‘x’ seconds, the request to the server is a waste, and if there are 2-3 changes, one has to wait for the stipulated ‘x’ seconds to see it. I wanted something that would refresh the page only when there was an update,” he added. This bottleneck was bypassed by Bedi and his team by applying Google’s push technology, which allows the updates to be pushed as and when there is one. “Success for me is when the ‘war room’ feels more like a ‘play room’ and there are no goof-ups anywhere!” exclaimed Bedi.

DON’T STICK TO STEREOTYPES, OR SOMETHING YOU LEARNED YEARS BACK. BE PASSIONATE AND HAVE
A HUNGER FOR LEARNING. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS, BE OPEN TO TAKING VERSATILE RESPONSIBILITIES TO GET A BIRD’S EYE VIEW
OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS. I TRIED MY HAND AT ALMOST EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN, DURING MY CAREER JOURNEY. AND DON’T EXPECT TO BE  ON TV! MEDIA IS NOT ABOUT BEING ON TV. MY RELATIVES STILL SAY, ‘MEINE AAPKO TV PE NAI DEKHA,’ WHEN I TELL THEM I WORK WITH NDTV!

THE AFTERNOTE

Bedi believes that the most imperative characteristic one must possess to survive in the media industry, is to be curious. “Don’t stick to stereotypes, or something you learnt years back. Be passionate and have a hunger for learning. Don’t be afraid to try new things, be open to taking versatile responsibilities to get a bird’s eye view of the entire process. I tried my hand at almost everything I could, during my career journey. And don’t expect to be on TV! Media is not about being on TV. My relatives still say, ‘meine aapko TV pe nai dekha,’ when I tell them I work with NDTV!” joked Bedi.When asked about sharing a piece of advice for aspiring CTOs, Bedi joked, “Start as an intern!”

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