Launch of the programsharing service Aquila

On saturday 3rd of September 2005 the participants of "Project Aquila" gathered at SÖFF in Yttermark. Watched by an eager audience, the chairman of the Finland-Swedish Local TV Association, Jan Sundqvist, at 09:38 PM activated the very first official upload of a program to the association's new programsharingservice "Aquila", and declared it opened.

The purpose of Aquila is to simplify and promote the exchange of videoprograms between the finland-swedish local-tv-stations (i.e. community tv stations) and thus lighten the workload of the programmakers. It will also enable a smooth cooperation by e.g. sharing of raw material etc. The exchange is accomplished by up- and downloads over the internet via a centralized server used for storage and indexing.

The association's secretary Maria Launonen explains in informationletter 3/05 : "Aquila provides us working in the local television field with a lot of advantages. Imagine the following: a resident of the city of Karis is participating in an important sporting event in the city of Nykarleby. Then Jan Sunqvist, living in Nykarleby himself, is there with his videocamera at the same event taking footage. He thinks that it would be a good idea to share his footage with the other local-tv stations. He uploads his material into our archive and then the lucky local-tv station of Karis kan use it and pretend that they're travelling all over the country following important happenings."

The service is tailor made for the needs of the finland-swedish local-tv-stations and amongst other things features a search engine to render it possible to find exactly the type of material that's needed. Material that's uploaded can thus be searched for and found by anyone of the users of Aquila. The storage capacity is very large and all the data is stored on redundant harddrives.

The server is located in Bothnia Broadband's server hotel and is connected to the internet over a high-capacity link.The software is written in Java and is made up by a collection of java servlets, java applets and javascript. The operating system in the server is Linux. A common standard for the encoding of the videomaterial has been developed in order to ensure even quality and that no unforseen technical problem should arise at the time of the playback.

The initiative for building Aquila was taken by the Finland-Swedish Local TV Association which in the spring of 2005 ordered the system for the needs of the finland-swedish local-tv-stations. The person in charge of the project at the association was Jan Sundqvist, he also was involved in developing the software requirements specification. The architecture of the Aquila service was planned by Peter Sandström who also developed the software. The group who betatested Aquila and provided feedback in the form of bugreports and ideas consisted of Harry Paro, Tom Björklund, Jan Sundqvist and Alex D'Anci. Tom Björklund also functioned as the project's MPEG2-compression expert when specifying the common Aquila file encodingformat.

At the launch at SÖFF, a kit of hard- and software that simplifies the usage of the service was handed out to each and every participating station. The kit consisted of a Pyro AV Link, a Lacie USB/Firewire harddrive, a copy of Adobe Premiere Elements, and more. A set of lectures and workshops were also held around e.g. the therory of operation behind MPEG-2, how to use the kit and how to transfer files from and to Aquila.

The historical first program to be downloaded from Aquila and aqtually broadcasted to the TV-viewers was "Beväringar svär faneden i Malax kyrka" (Recruits swearing the oath to the banner in the church of Malax). The program was produced by Malax TV and broadcasted by Ny-TV in Nykarleby the 22nd of September 07:35 PM.

Twelve local-tv-stations are participating in the initial phase of the project. The name of the service, Aquila, is the latin word for "eagle". The star constellation Aquila can also be seen in the project's logo. The name was chosen in order to have an explicit name for the service that everyone would be able to recognize. Aquila is pronounced: [ak'i:la]. It rhymes with "tequila". The development of Aquila was funded by a generous donation from Svenska Kulturfonden.