Webcast system lets residents view key city sessions
Residents can view city council sessions and other city government meetings from the comfort of their homes thanks to a webcast archive system from San Francisco-based Granicus Inc. Granicus has provided government webcasting and public meeting management systems to 400 local governments in 39 states across the United States.
City officials have received 3,000 requests for public meeting video content since Fayetteville launched the new webcasting system in March.
“The Web-streamed video offers our citizens another avenue for accessing local government and helps to facilitate a more open and accountable government,” said Susan Thomas, the city’s public information and policy advisor.
Thomas told GovPro.com that there are limitations to city meetings that are aired on cable systems in Fayetteville through the city’s cable franchise agreement.
“The government and public-access channels run on cable, but they are only carried in the city limits, and they only go to those residents who have cable subscriptions,” Thomas said. “Also, residents who are relying on a satellite dish or anybody who’s working off a television antenna doesn’t receive the channels, so this system opens the door for those people also. So it does increase the availability to our citizens.”
Viewing city meetings is a snap, Thomas told GovPro.com.
“Residents just log onto the city’s Web site and go to our online video link, and if there’s a meeting in progress, it’ll pop up right there, and it’ll say ‘meeting in progress,’ and you can click on it,” Thomas explained.
Past meetings are archived for viewing on the city’s Web site.
The Granicus webcasting system includes software that helps the administrator record meeting proceedings automatically. In addition, while it’s recording, the system creates time stamps in the video, allowing points of discussion during the meeting to be clearly indexed.
“On the administrative side, it’s a huge time-saver,” Thomas told GovPro.com. “Our agenda packets can be up to 400 pages long, and often I just need an item or two. I don’t need the whole 400-page document; I just need access to maybe one set of documents for one agenda item. This software enables you to just pull up the documents related to a particular decision point. Also, when you are reviewing an archived meeting, you don’t have to watch the entire meeting. The software enables you to retrieve the one item you need to view.”
City staffers save time because there’s less duplicating of DVDs or recording minutes of meetings, as in the past. Down the road, city administrators plan to use the webcast system for in-house instruction, Thomas added.
“Our public safety staffers, fire and police will rely on the system for training,” Thomas said. “All police officers or firefighters don’t have to be in the same room at the same time to get the training. They can be at their building at a computer station and do the training. If an emergency call comes in, they can hit pause, and when they return, continue the training where they left off—so it’s going to be a really good efficiency-builder.”