It won't be much longer before residents can view the proceedings of town council meetings from the comfort of their homes with live streaming drawing one step closer.
Town council has approved proceeding with what's termed a mid-level video capture and streaming system, pending council's review of quotes submitted. While it's estimated to cost $30,000, Councillor Marni Fedeyko insisted on council reviewing the quotes because she questions the cost.
Fedeyko, who brought the idea of live streaming to the forefront, initially wanted the town to pursue other proposals instead of accepting one of the three systems presented but accepted the compromise.
She said her concern was not as much with the price of the software as it was with the hardware and installation costs. She believed they should attempt to get the price down and be as fiscally responsible as possible.
A mid-level system utilizes a single camera with the ability pan, tilt and zoom, a video mixer to enable multi-window viewing and a separate audio feed directly from the microphones. It is expandable.
Other options presented was a basic system at a cost of $15,000 the vendor believed was too lower quality to utilize and a $45,000 "full meal" system that would include three additional cameras, programming for automation to microphones and priority video capture.
All three price quotes include the initial $5,600 fee that will have to be paid annually for the new module required in the town's iCompass agenda and meeting management software.
Quality was top mind for Mayor Jeff Genung, who preferred going all the way with the full meal deal to make sure the visuals and sound were of a higher quality and not create frustration with the viewers.
Fedeyko was hesitant to support this option because she questions whether residents would support an expenditure of this size.
Explains the report presented by Tracey Radloff, senior manager of human resources and communications, factors considered were the level of automation required, ease of operation, viewer experience, compatibility with the current systems and equipment utilized and budget availability. In the 2018 budget, the town set aside $40,000 to establish live streaming.
None of the options presented included the cost of archiving the video and Councillor Morgan Nagel insisted this is a must. He did, however, question the additional cost of $15,000 quoted and believes there are much cheaper ways to adequately store the data.
The existing audio/video operating system of the town is due to be updated and a capital request will be coming forward for consideration in the town's 2019 budget. The system upgrade will be necessary should council proceed with a full-size video system in the future, notes Radloff's report.
Streaming is targeted to begin in May, says Radloff.
While it has not been discussed at this point, there's a chance it could be used for other town committee meetings.
"Certainly the capability could be there if there’s an operator for the system. We will start the testing with Council meetings first before we expand but in the future will consider which other meetings may be helpful to stream for public access," she explains.