Providing IT services to a global audience

Magna Carta assembly broadcast

Magna Carta assembly broadcast

Thanks to the expertise of the technical teams across The National Archives, we were delighted that the live Magna Carta assembly broadcast to more than 3,600 schools worldwide went so smoothly.

A few weeks prior to the event on Monday 15 June, I and a small team of colleagues were asked to provide communication links for the live broadcast by the Discovery Education channel. What initially seemed like a relatively simple request actually required significant planning. We knew we needed both capacity and resilience and nothing was to be left to chance on the day.

After identifying the most likely solution, we were able to activate connections and provide necessary cabling to the location of the broadcast equipment. Our main communication links and equipment are resilient and follow different routes and multiple devices – this ensures high availability. And it meant that if a failure were to occur during the broadcast, the service should not be impacted.

These communication links upload the broadcast to the Discovery Education channel’s partner, Livestream. Livestream then made the content available on their network to 270,000 students from more than 3,600 schools across the globe.

Doing this required a change to our technical infrastructure, so after assessing the impact and risk and identifying robust roll-back procedures, the necessary approval was secured. We scheduled full testing on site with the Discovery Education channel.

Graph of Network traffic during the broadcast

Network traffic during the broadcast

During testing, we closely monitored traffic to ensure that we had necessary capacity to handle the broadcast. If communication links become saturated, it would have the potential to impact our Web Services including Discovery, Wi-Fi and Public Internet.

When we were satisfied that we could provide a solution, we provided setup and support on the day to the successful broadcast made possible by the flexibility of our in-house IT Support Teams.

IT is just one part of ensuring a large scale successful event, but an important one. It was a relief at the end of the day when we were able to all agree that the technical solution we put in place held up to scrutiny and so many schools were able to benefit from it.




  1. Gill Cooper says:

    An interesting insight. Speaking as a former IT person (and still a big IT geek!), I’d love to read a more in-depth technical account of the problems faced and the solutions used. I appreciate you’re targeting a different audience here, so perhaps on an IT site rather than the NA blog.

    1. David Perkins says:

      Many thanks for your comment, Gill. We’re keen to engage more with the IT community about all the new and innovative work we do here. Is there an IT site you had in mind for us to post on? We’ll be posting more tech related blog posts on our own website too so please keep an eye out for them!

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