City May Stream Meetings to Mobile Devices

City Council meetings could be coming to a device near you.

The City Council’s Technology and Communications Committee Tuesday agreed to spend $6,600 next budget year to make the city’s streaming video feed available on mobile phones and computer tablets.

The committee has been discussing ways to make the city’s committee meetings more open to the public.

At their last meeting, they discussed adding cameras to one of the upstairs meeting rooms. The additional equipment would enable the city to stream more committee meetings both to the Internet and to the city’s public TV network, RTN.

Right now, the city council chamber has three cameras for that purpose. Meetings in that room can be viewed live on RTN, channel 11, or online at any time. But not all the city’s committees meet in that room, making other public discussions less accessible.

But adding three cameras to a meeting room would cost $48,000, a price that seemed steep to committee members.

“I’m more comfortable with the lower cost options at this point,” Mary-Ann Baldwin said.

The streaming equipment will not be ready until July  — the first day of the new fiscal year — which is why committee members agreed to wait until the next budget cycle to add the technology. The full city council must still approve the budget.

Committee members also want to encourage groups to use the council chambers more if possible, and look into offering free parking to those who do.

“It seems the council chambers are grossly underutilized right now,” said Councilor Bonner Gaylord.

Members had previously asked city staff to check with the city’s 28 committees and groups. Raleigh Public Information Officer Jayne Kirkpatrick said five agreed to consider relocating or rescheduling their meetings so they could take place in council chambers.

Kirkpatrick said she could create a matrix to schedule the meetings, and continue offering it to other committees and groups.

“We’ll see if they really do or not,” she said.

Groups who currently meet in council chambers but are not recorded will only be added upon request, Kirkpatrick said.

She added that she had not heard from the council committees about whether they would relocate.

Baldwin, a member of the technology committee and chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, said she would prefer to only relocate for issues that have a wide interest and draw heavy attendance. For example, the LPS committee meeting room was full during debates about food trucks.

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