The winner of the 2021 EBU Technology and Innovation Prize is Sveriges Radio (SR), for a project that places public service values at the heart of the production and dissemination of information. The winner of the first EBU Young Engineers and Researchers Prize is Irene Nikkarinen, data scientist at Yle in Finland. The announcements were made today at the 27th EBU Technical Assembly, hosted live online from Geneva.
The Swedish broadcaster won the EBU Technology and Innovation Award for its implementation of a new approach to power the algorithm used to generate its news playlists. The News Values project allows RS listeners to hear the most important news of the day while finding things that surprise them and broaden their knowledge and perspectives.
“This is a perfect example of technical ingenuity combined with public service values, helping Sveriges Radio to better fulfill its mission,” said Judy Parnall, Chair of the EBU Technical Committee. “It puts technology at the service of both SR’s editorial experts and the general public, keeping humans at the center of the process. “
“Our jury had the difficult task of selecting a project from among the 24 nominees this year,” said Antonio Arcidiacono, director of the EBU’s Technology and Innovation department. “Our Technology & Innovation Award continues to grow as a showcase for the creativity and technical talent of public service media in Europe. “
Launched in 2019, the News Values project has been gradually rolled out in SR’s editorial teams, starting with the 26 local news offices in Sweden. Editors rate each news article on three dimensions: breadth, lifespan and, most importantly, the degree to which it embodies the “values of SAR.” This way each item gets a score which is used by the algorithm to automatically generate news playlists for each local SR station. The system is also used internally by the national press team to find the most interesting stories from across the country.
News reporting is done by digital editors on local news desks at 26 local stations. This is based on the firm belief that the editors closest to the production and the local audience are the best at assessing the values of information. This spring, the system was extended to the national information service, followed by editorial staff specializing in the fields of sport, culture and science.
SR’s News Values project was selected from four shortlisted for this year’s EBU Technology and Innovation Award. The other finalists were:
- BBC Sounds: An Integrated Audio Platform – Sounds is the new home of radio, music and podcasting at the BBC, giving listeners a personal and relevant experience and giving them more control and flexibility.
- BBC News Virtual Production Tools – three transformation tools: Toucan for quick remote TV interviews; Pre Rec for quality audio over prerecorded remote chats; Virtual audience to connect the public with the studios.
- An avatar for sign language applications (Rai – Radiotelevisione Italiana) – a platform based on a virtual actor (avatar), enabling applications for LIS (Italian Sign Language) such as teaching and automatic generation of weather reports.
The EBU Technology and Innovation Prize has been awarded annually since 2016. Candidate projects are submitted by EBU members, with a total of 24 projects nominated this year, the highest total to date. The jury, made up of members of the EBU Technical Committee, independently assessed the projects according to fixed criteria. They could not vote for nominations from their own organization.
Recognize young talents
The winner of the first EBU Young Engineers and Researchers Prize was also announced at today’s Technical Assembly. The award is designed to showcase and encourage young talents – graduates and young professionals, individuals and teams – working in EBU members.
The first recipient of this award is Irene Nikkarinen, data scientist at Yle in Finland. With the company for less than a year, his work on adapting and training an open source metadata tool improves the findability of Yle content on its online platforms and applications. After graduating from the University of Helsinki and the University of Cambridge, she worked for a short period in a trading company. The possibility of serving all Finns with the results of his work was an important criterion in his decision to join the public service media company.
“Young engineers have always aspired to work in public broadcasters, which has contributed to our strong track record in technological innovation,” said Judy Parnall, Chair of the EBU Technical Committee. “We need to make sure we continue to provide innovative work opportunities that can make a difference for society. “
“We created this award to highlight the young technological talents that can be found in all EBU members,” said Antonio Arcidiacono, Director of the EBU Technology and Innovation Department. “Irene Nikkarinen is a prime example of the kind of profile that will ensure that public service media remain at the forefront of innovation in media technology. “