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NexGen Technology in the Fast Lane

Aug 15, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Traffic technology provider Traffic Pulse plans to introduce a 3-D traffic animation system in the next month to at least a dozen TV stations that will allow for real-time and “real world” images in the traffic coverage that is a mainstay of their morning news.

The system, dubbed “NexGen,” allows local broadcasters to create traffic graphics and images on the fly without the need for additional time to render the graphics. That should help during dicey traffic situations where stations want to show live coverage, said Jon Agree, director of television affiliations for Traffic Pulse Networks.

NexGen uses satellite data to create real-world images of cities, Mr. Agree said. Traffic Pulse then culls the actual traffic data from real-time sensors it has deployed on the roadways in most of the 18 markets it serves.

He added that at least 12 of the 31 stations Traffic Pulse works with plan to upgrade to NexGen, including NBC-owned WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Hearst-Argyle-owned NBC affiliate WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Tribune-owned WB affiliate WPIX-TV in New York, Belo-owned ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas and Post-Newsweek-owned CBS affiliate WKMG-TV in Orlando, Fla.

Traffic coverage is increasingly important, since morning news is one of the few local newscasts that has room to grow in the ratings, said Skip Valet, news director at WKMG. Traffic is also particularly important in Orlando, given that it’s a vacation destination with many out-of-towners on the roads, he said. NexGen should be useful for news coverage, too, because of its instant mapping capability that shows different locations, he said.

Competitor WSI introduced a real-time traffic product called TrueView Traffic more than a year ago. Broadcasters have become more interested in the product over the past few months because of a strong focus on morning news at many stations, said Linda Maynard, VP, media marketing, at WSI, which is best known for providing weather technology tools to nearly half of the local broadcasters.

TrueView Traffic has been deployed to 16 stations, including Viacom-owned CBS affiliate WCCO-TV in Minneapolis and Young Broadcasting-owned independent station KRON-TV in San Francisco. Ms. Maynard said Viacom-owned CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago plans to install the system later this month.