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With Minnesota shooting, power of live streaming takes center stage

Sharon Gaudin | July 11, 2016
Live streaming will advance because of a growing demand for 'real-time' information

On Thursday night, as police in Dallas were under fire from a sniper assault, a witness live-streamed the attack using Facebook Live while seeking cover behind a tree.

Last month, a group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives held a sit-in to push for a vote on gun control measures. However, when the Republican leadership ordered C-SPAN's cameras shut off, the group turned to their smartphones and live-streamed their protest using apps like Periscope and Facebook Live.

Eventually, C-SPAN and major news channels picked up those live feeds and carried them as well.

Later this summer, NBC, which will be airing the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, announced that it will live-stream 4,500 hours of the games.

There are many challenges -- such as concerns about privacy and security, and the need for sufficient network bandwidth -- that will arise as live streaming gains more traction. Such issues may come to a head relatively soon as people realize the power of a live feed.

Pushing the technology ahead is the fact that apps now are able to offer high-quality live streaming via almost any device. Users are discovering these abilities and are quickly jumping on board.

"Despite the tragic circumstances of this week's [shooting aftermath] broadcast, it really showcases Facebook Live's capabilities and potential," Olds said. "The thought that someone was able to get into the tool so quickly and was able to broadcast high-quality video from the side of a street is something that most people will find surprising."

As people become increasingly comfortable with sharing and receiving information via live streams, the technology will be further incorporated into enterprise operations.

Live streaming already is being used in healthcare. Patients in remote areas can share images of injuries, for instance, with doctors or specialists in other locations.

"I think that live-casting will be used increasingly in business in a variety of ways," said Olds. "Chief executives can live-stream meetings to all hands, regardless of where they are in the world. Companies can also communicate live to large groups of customers, perhaps introducing new products or offering timely information about existing products."


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