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Video on Demand now in Reach for the Fire Service
A revolution in the way consumers watch movies and television has also changed the way the fire service delivers training videos. The market for on demand movies has made the technology both affordable and easy to use.
As is often the case, consumer technology innovations in streaming media is also quickly affecting the private sector. Companies like Netflix recognized that their future depended on solving the bandwidth dilema. As a result on October, 1 2006 Netflix announced a $1,000,000 prize to the first developer of a video recommendation algorithm that would lower the bandwidth requirement to stream movies.
The result is a video compression algorithm that makes streaming videos both high quality and lower bandwidth allowing delivery over standard internet connections. One entrepeneur recognized the benefit of this new technology to deliver training videos to fire stations to complete their mandatory monthly training.
This entrepenuer is a computer programmer who also has strong ties to the fire service. “My husband is a Lieutenant in the fire service and when he was looking for a video on demand solution for his department he naturally recruited me to help. I spent several days researching the technology and looking for a company that offers this solution to the fire service. When I realized that no company currently offers this service at an affordable price, I knew that I could provide the service affordably”, stated Michele Smith .
Michele then founded trainlu, a company that provides video on demand solutions for fire, EMS, police and the military. “The firefighters at the station frequently call my husband “lu” which is a slang term used in the fire service to describe a lieutenant. So I naturally named the company trainlu. The intent is that training videos on demand in the station is like having a personal training lieutenant assigned to every station”, stated Michele.
The most appealing part of training videos on demand for firefighters is both to have the entire video library available and the ability to pause the video while responding to an emergency call and then picking right back up where they left off after returning to the station.
“My department has been creating its own training videos through our training division for 8 years. Those videos are delivered over a cable access channel 3-4 at at time and are repeated several times during the day. If we catch a call during one of the videos we have to wait until it airs again and start over at the beginning, hoping not to catch another call. Having the video on demand option allows us to pause the video while we run a call. Having the entire library available also lets us choose which video we want to train on that month. So if we have a house fire and I see deficiencies in hose pulling, we can train on hose pulls to improve our skills as we need them. Before trainlu, we completed monthly training topics by what the training division thought was appropriate. Many times the training topic did not meet our topic needs”, stated Lt. Chris Smith.
While the technology to stream movies on demand continues to gain market share, the nation’s first responders can now also benefit from better technology at lower costs. The need for video on demand for the fire service has always been there, now the technology is both affordable and easy to use. The trainlu system currently uses the Roku codec box which provides an easy to use graphical interface to allow firefighters to scroll through their video library and select the desired video using a small remote control that works just like a television remote.
“The Roku box is extremely easy to set up and use. After you receive the box from trainlu, you simply plug it into the tv using standard RCA jacks or HDMI, plug it into the wall and then connect it your stations wireless router. My husband tells me its so easy to set up and use that even a rookie can do it. I told him that the younger generation is probably better prepared to hook up internet based electronics than he was”, stated Michele.