Atlanta-based Crawford Communications is in the business of broadcasting content for civilian clients. The newest client: the US Army. It's the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System, or DVIDS. Units in the Middle East are being equipped with new satellite transmitters to send video home in response to specific requests from local media about local troops overseas.
"The request] goes into a spreadsheet, a server, that is looked at by all the public affairs chiefs in theater, as well as the public affairs units that actually shoot the video," explained Lt. Col. Will Beckman, director of operations at the DVIDS Hub in Atlanta. "So they see what's out there, see what people are looking for, and say, 'Hey, I can do that.'"
Once Army public affairs personnel create the video, it's transferred to Atlanta via satellites. Crawford Communications' Ed Deckert explained, "The Army will play back that content to us, they will distribute it digitally to a satellite, an international satellite, we will then receive that back here at Crawford Communications. We will then take that content in real time, we will uplink it to a domestic satellite that accessible to any media outlet in the United States."
Another aspect of the DVIDS system is the media can also arrange live satellite interviews, like one with public affairs officer Lt. Col. Paul Hastings from in a former palace of Saddam Hussein in Mosul. We asked him how the DVIDS system is going to make his job easier.
"It already has made my job easier," he said. "We actually started using DVIDS over two months ago, and we've executed over 50 live or taped television interviews...executing live broadcasts of events that are happening in conditions of crisis as well as giving news of what's happening in a day-to-day way."
Army journalist Spec. Blanka Stratford says the system will also give the public access to the kind of stories that security concerns keep civilian journalists from shooting. She also says we'll see more of the positive side of the Army's work in the Middle East.
"As a journalist working in Iraq, especially with civil missions, I got to go out and see a lot of what they're doing, a lot of positive things, with children, with the Iraqi infrastructure, all sorts of different operations and missions that I think will really benefit the country in the long run," she said.
The Army hopes the home television viewer will also benefit with more coverage of troops from our area.
All the stories that cross the system are eventually archived online, at www.dvidshub.net.