Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune Oberlin council members Scott Broadwell and Elizabeth Meadow want to make their meetings more inviting to residents.
Would you watch city council meetings if they were streamed live and available to watch when you have time?
Council members last Tuesday discussed using Swagit, a Texas-based multimedia communication company that allows clients to stream meetings live on TV, a computer, cell phone, or tablet.
The streaming idea comes after officials recently agreed to a $180,000 contract with SoundCom Systems to upgrade cameras and sound equipment in city council chambers, which doubles as the Oberlin Municipal Court.
Two high definition projectors, three ceiling cameras, a document camera, 15 microphones, a video conferencing device, cable connections, an assisted listening device, and monitors will be installed.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Meadows said if council is willing to upgrade the audio and visual equipment in the room, then an effort should be made also to meet the needs of cord-cutters — residents who have opted to go without cable television.
“We’re trying to provide the technology that would make it more inviting for more members of the community to be involved and know what we’re doing in city government,” she said. “We wanted to get the most for our money. It’s not going to negatively impact our budget.”
City officials have four packages to chose from if they want to move forward with Swagit. Those range from $650 to $895 per month.
The packages vary by standard or high-definition streaming and up to 25 or 50 meetings per year. Council is looking at the $895 package, which offers up to 50 meetings per year with high-definition streaming.
It would be additional $10,740 spent from the city’s cable programming fund per year.
Councilman Ronnie Rimbert said he’s not sure whether council needs high-definition streaming or need a package for 50 meetings.
“We’re paying for more than we’re getting because we’ll never get to 50 meetings,” he said. Residents can already get video copies of their meetings from Cable Co-op.
“Not everyone subscribes to cable television anymore,” said councilman Bryan Burgess. “One of the most exciting aspects of this technology is to watch it live.”
He said people would be able to pull up a previous council agenda on the city website, click on an item, and that part of the meeting would begin playing.
“It really makes research and having the city’s information more at your fingertips,” Burgess said. “While the Cable Co-op has been doing a great job for the better part of 30 years we have to recognize that part of our population doesn’t receive information from Cable Co-op. It’s our responsibility to make sure all of our meetings are available to everyone.”
This would allow residents to watch council meetings live and provide them with exact information when they have time to watch it, said councilwoman Sharon Pearson.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.