Myers Information Systems, Inc.
Myers Information Systems, Inc. provides software solutions for traffic, program scheduling, content management and sales for television and radio stations. They support a variety of Community, Corporate, Education, Faith-Based, Government, Interactive and Public broadcast groups.
Their "business intelligent" software platform, ProTrack, is widely used and is currently operational in over 250 broadcast stations, groups and content distribution facilities. ProTrack manages both single and multi-channel digital environments providing broadcasters the ability to accommodate multiple media assets and interface with existing Automation, Video Server, Archive, Accounting and Membership systems.
A value-added solution provided by Myers is ProLink. As a service, ProLink captures and edits program offer information from national and regional distributors. It provides essential program metadata that can be downloaded directly into the ProTrack database. Daily updates from the ProLink service are sent via the Internet to subscribing stations where they can opt to select the "offers" and "series" for download.
New public media stations subscribing to ProLink are given instantaneous and unlimited access to an extensive historical library of program data. The ProLink archive contains an up-to-date, quality-controlled, standardized database of more than 125,000 program offers, including...
ProLink also provides both long and short form program descriptions which offer qualitative enhancements and quantifiable improvements in productivity for web listings, PSIP compatible tables (electronic guides), membership guides and sales efforts. Myers states that they provide this data, formatted for ProTrack, on a daily basis within 24 hours of release from the service providers.
The relationship of the PBCore metadata dictionary to the stated and anticipated needs of public radio and television stations, as well as other related communities who wish to catalog and share metadata descriptions about media assets, was defined during PBCore's early design stages. At that time, beginning in November of 2001, program distributors, national and regional distributors, state networks, individual radio and TV licensees, educators and their evangelists, as well as subject matter experts in library and information science gathered as the Public Broadcasting Metadata Project Working Group. After ownership and licensing decisions were made for PBCore, the metadata dictionary was officially published, via its website http://www.pbcore.org, in April of 2005 (v1.0), with a revision (v1.1) published in January of 2007 to accommodate the requirements for the PBCore XML Schema Definition (XSD). Not surprisingly, the participants (as primary constituents of the public broadcasting systems and its related communities) were heavily weighted with regard to their roles as end users of a metadata dictionary.
As PBCore evolved, and as third-party, vendor designed and implemented traffic, program scheduling, and digital playout systems became more sophisticated in their integration and convergence functionalities, the time arrived when station operations wishing to merge PBCore metadata into their archiving, production and scheduling systems needed vendor supported adoption and adaption of PBCore. At this juncture, issues are focused less on process and more on real-world applications and cross-over integration of PBCore into well-established information management systems. Such is the case when discussing PBCore and Myers Information Systems ProTrack solutions.
Given the centralized position of ProTrack systems within many station operations (both radio and television), it touches national data feeds, such as PBS PODS (Program Offer Data Service) as well as the circulation of information within a station (between traffic, program scheduling, playout from automation and digital servers, and connectivity to proprietary databases scattered throughout various station departments). As a vendor of solutions and services, Myers understands that their success (both financially and reputationally) depends less on the catch-all flexibility of a consensus-built metadata dictionary such as PBCore, and more on Application Specification Profiles that are very well-defined and that match the specific data gathering and sharing requirements articulated in organizational business rules.
For example, whereas PBCore offers an Identifier metadata element, it allows end users to supply any number of ID formats, depending on individual user protocols. From ProTrack's perspective, the structure of the data for an ID entry (the syntax) and the possible picklist of Identifier Types, should be less broad and more targeted to the specific profiles demanded by television and radio operations, i.e., NOLA codes for PTV or Package Numbers as specified in PBS PODS. This is an Application Specific Profile required by an individual information system that interacts with other well-defined information systems, with negotiated agreements for systemization and locked-in protocols amongst all involved parties.
Yet another example of an application specific profile relates to PBCore's request that an Instantiation must exist for a metadata record to be compliant. Naturally, in the program offers from PBS, early submissions offer rough, approximate schedules (the furthest schedules into the future). As time progresses, the program offer and its associated metadata is honed into accurate, fully complete schedules (closest to day of air). Metadata records therefore can exist, but with an instantiation for the media essence or item yet to be created or completed. PBCore needs to address this variation to its clutch of "mandatory elements" that insure PBCore compliant records.
How does PBCore dovetail with industry Application Specification Profiles? It is recognized that PBCore's definitions and user guidelines must remain flexible and attractive to a variety of users and audiences. That is the nature of PBCore and its development.
However, nothing precludes PBCore from flagging certain metadata fields with supplementary authority, syntax and data entry guidelines that match individual, single-purpose data sharing requirements, such as those discussed by Myers ProTrack.
PBCore can thus be applied in a variety of venues, including closed, customized, in-house data management cataloging and information solutions, as well as the functionalities defined, supported, and maintained by vendor solutions for the needs of media outlet and stations where a larger, systemic view of data convergence must be acknowledged and accommodated.
These application specific profiles will be addressed. As Myers posits, "it is absolutely necessary in order to reach the full potential of the PBCore groundwork that has been laid."
© 2005 Corporation for Public Broadcasting
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