BBC to hold a Development Studio event in Cape Town

BBC World Service and the BBC’s digital innovations team, BBC Connected Studio, will hold a Development Studio event in Cape Town, South Africa on 23-24 April. Held in conjunction with RLabs, the event will explore new ways of distributing BBC audio content.

As part of the BBC’s Cape Town Development Studio brief, teams will consider existing technologies on offer – such as Internet Protocol (IP) Raspberry Pi, audio streaming, software defined radio, podcasts – to develop tools that deliver BBC content to communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Cost-efficiency will also be explored – and new ways of reaching younger audiences.

Participating teams will be judged on a set of criteria. Successful ideas will be selected for pilots funded by the BBC which will be announced in May.

Dmitry Shishkin, BBC World Service Group Digital Development Editor, says: “We are trying to learn more about the way people across the world consume digital content on their mobile phones. Reaching out to the local tech scene in Cape Town is a great way to collaborate because it provides us with valuable intelligence from within a market we are trying to grow in. At the recent, very successful, Hackathon event in Nairobi, we tried to find new ways of reaching audiences using social media on their mobile phones. We also hope that the Cape Town Development Studio with RLabs will lead to more innovative product solutions.”

Part of BBC Research & Development, Connected Studio works with digital agencies, technology start-ups, designers and developers – including BBC staff – to deliver innovation. Its aim is to add new functions, features or formats across the BBC’s online services, improving audience experience and optimising the BBC’s digital media products.

Adrian Woolard, Head of BBC Connected Studio adds: “We are set-up to identify and support the development of digital ideas from inside and outside the BBC. Applying our proven methods of product development, we are now able to work directly with the highly inventive local tech scene in Cape Town. We are excited at the prospect of tapping into their experience and insights to the challenges of BBC World Service in Africa. I can’t wait to see the innovations that will be developed around audio and mobiles.”

The rapid prototyping of ideas that come from these events are part of the BBC’s initiative to invest in digital innovation across Africa. Earlier this year, the BBC launched the Africa edition of the bbc.com website, providing English-speaking internet users on the continent far more African news stories, features and video on the bbc.com front page. March saw the launch of the Africa live page on the BBC News website which covers Africa as a ‘live event’, with text, audio and video content and picture galleries delivered by the BBC’s correspondents, reporters, producers and presenters across the continent.

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