Why Help Me Stream?
The origins for the idea of Help Me Stream Research Foundation goes back almost as far as the streaming industry itself. At that point, in the late 1990s, a number of us were involved in moving media from one location to another. Some of us were focused on satellite delivery, others on videconferencing, and still others on traditional sneakernet delivery of film reels and video tapes.
The potential for streaming--where one could broadcast to many, but with significant technical and financial costs, if the audience grew too large— was apparent to us all, but the technical aspects meant that most streaming required either a technical degree or a full-time technician to tweak the knobs, write the code, manage the server, operate the camera, or just sit with fingers crossed that the high-cost bandwidth connectivity to the venue would hold out until the live-streamed event ended.
Fast forward two decades and it was clear by 2018 that our little streaming industry had not only been technically successful, but that it had been so blessed with consumer adoption and overall growth that it was time to think about giving back.
And that's when the reality of Help Me Stream was born. A way to give back to those who most need it, while supporting NGOs in their critical messaging in rural communities, disaster areas, and emerging economies.
While the Help Me Stream brand can, and eventually probably will (under subsequent enitites) take on several additional forms (from advocacy for rural broadband to educational narrowing of the digital divide) the first step in all of this is to return to our technical roots.
That's where the Research Foundation aspect comes into play. Throughout 2020, we've started documenting best practices, assessing where addiitonal interoperability between analog and digital devices needs to occur, and planning out our testing by designing purpose-made test beds.
And to accomplish that goal from the outset of our founding, we've been part of an affiliate program with a regional university, the ETSU 501(c)3 research foundation, renting their services at a very reasonable rate and even providing consulting to the Innovation Lab when needed.
Now that we have our own 501(c)3 status, we'll be graduating from the Innovation Lab (more on that note later this month) and beginning to accept tax-deductible streaming gear (including laptops, desktopps, smartphones, tablets and WiFi gear), test-bed equipment, and financial donations.
Those donations will help make our overall mission possible, whether by funding testing and/or travel by HMSRF representatives to impacted locations or by providing donations of test-bed equipment or even the the gear to either create or receive streams.
Local note. For the local region of northeast Tennessee, western North Carolina and southwest Virginia that we call home, we'll also have some exciting news around how you can donate computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets at one of our upcoming Donation Days. Stay tuned for that announcement as we're assisted by key charitable, media, and storage partners in the region.