The City of New Albany now offers a streaming service for constituents to watch live or archived City Council and city board and commission meetings. Even better, the technology now has functionality that allows those watching recorded meetings to fast forward quickly and easily to their respective items of interest.
Transparency in governmental operations and the ability to easily obtain public information are fundamental hallmarks of good government. Particularly after COVID, when people couldn’t attend public meetings in person, it was important for governmental entities to provide alternative ways to have access to their elected leaders’ decisions. The initial system the City of New Albany installed for public meetings was functional, but the sound and video quality was not optimal and viewers could not fast forward to a specific item of interest when they watched recorded meetings. A year ago, in April 2021, city staff began researching alternative software packages that would make watching city meetings remotely a better overall experience.
Ultimately, city staff chose Swagit Productions to enhance the viewer experience of public meetings from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. “We looked at several video and streaming options, including purchasing and fixing a wide-angle camera in place and shooting our own videos,” said city spokesman Scott McAfee. “We chose Swagit for multiple reasons, including the fact that they offered a remote camera operator and agenda integration of specific items so that viewers could skip forward to their desired item of interest. We also received enthusiastic recommendations from sister communities which have already implemented the product.”
Swagit’s webcasting feature is compatible with multiple platforms including Apple, Android, and other popular devices. Residents and other members of the public can now watch the meetings, either live or archived, while on the go, through four HD cameras installed in New Albany’s Council Chambers. These cameras will be remotely operated by a Swagit employee who can choose among 16 preset camera angles that can be individually swiveled and zoomed.
Live meetings or archived recordings are easily accessed on the City of New Albany website at newalbanyohio.org/streaming-meetings. The screen the viewer sees will intermittently display the agenda item being discussed and the City Council, board or staff member who is speaking; and as mentioned, viewers watching archived meetings can click on a hyperlinked agenda item to go straight to a specific item of interest. Swagit is also currently working on auto-closed captioning of the live stream, and meetings will be indexed for easy navigation between different agenda points.
“We are very excited about this step forward, showing our commitment to government transparency while simultaneously improving the quality of our productions,” added McAfee.