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  • Writer's pictureJenna Williams

How Integrated Video Streaming is Shaping the Future of Council Meetings

Updated: Mar 26

In an era where technology is revolutionising our interaction with information and communities, incorporating audio and video streaming into local government meetings in Australia is not just a trend but a necessity that appears likely to become mandated in several states. This shift is driven by its benefits, such as enhanced transparency, accountability, and community engagement.


State-based transparency mandates are driving live-streaming activity in council.


Why? Because Australian and New Zealand communities demand increasing levels of trust from the governments they elect – and integrating video streaming into council meetings is the ideal way to show what’s really happening in chambers where decision making happens.


However, while the need for enhanced transparency is evident, it’s crucial to implement robust systems that support the requirements of council meetings. It’s all good to live-stream meetings for public access, but how easy is the process for internal teams and communities? Is the technology easy to use, and is accessibility and information retrieval seamless for staff, councillors and the public?

 

Without sound systems, the challenges of hybrid meetings and video integration increase pressure on governance and IT.

 

And it’s not just video streaming that creates additional pressure.


As local governments in Australia and New Zealand maintain hybrid meeting structures post-COVID, additional challenges remain. Meeting administrators face complexities in managing various aspects, from coordinating motions and requests to speak to navigating voting procedures and integrating video conferencing. These challenges, particularly for new councillors, highlight the urgent need for comprehensive systems that streamline processes and ensure a seamless hybrid meeting experience.


For hybrid council meetings to be effective and beneficial to key stakeholders, they must be easy to execute and, ideally, seamlessly integrate with other functions of the meeting process. This integration is crucial for ensuring a smooth and efficient meeting experience for those attending physically and virtually.


The integration process is crucial for ensuring a smooth and efficient meeting experience for those attending physically and virtually.


Bookmarked on-demand video content ensures all stakeholders can find the correct information.

 

While live streaming and video conferencing enhance transparency, they also introduce complexity to the in-meeting experience. To authentically increase transparency, meeting information must be easily consumable by the community.


This demands robust technological systems that facilitate efficient bookmarking and simple navigation, allowing the public to quickly locate and access relevant agenda items, reports, and minutes.


Bookmarked video recordings automatically timestamp agenda items corresponding to the discussion held in your meeting. This means your community can quickly access topics of interest to them, making it more inviting for them to engage with your meetings. Information is instant, and finding content about issues that matter to them can be achieved without sifting through mountains of irrelevant information.


Creating video content that does not integrate into the meeting management solution also creates work for meeting administrators. They often must record what time items were finished and then run through the video at a later point bookmarking it. This is not an efficient use of time and delays the video being available to the public.

 

Councillors need support to manage increased transparency in decision-making.

 

Councillors play a central role in the transparency equation. Ensuring transparency involves not only the accessibility of information but also the effective communication of decisions. As councillors navigate their decision-making roles, preparing them for the video medium becomes imperative. Many find this aspect intimidating, and efforts should be directed toward easing this transition.


This underscores the crucial need for sophisticated solutions that facilitate transparency in the overarching council proceedings and consider the individual comfort and preparedness of councillors for the video format.


Discover more about Councillor perspectives on Council Meetings in our latest insights report - access here.

 

Systems must keep up with evolving transparency practices in council meetings.

 

Both community members and councils in Australia and New Zealand share a common emphasis on open and honest information sharing. Beyond mere visibility, transparency is understood as the clear communication of decision-making processes, prudent spending of taxpayer money, and declarations of conflicts of interest. It must also be timely; the community are often keen to view relevant information as soon as possible.


Open, digitally accessible council debate is a significant way for councils to demonstrate their commitment to transparency. It necessitates ongoing efforts to refine transparency practices and embed them as an integral aspect of governance through well-designed and efficient systems.


In conclusion, integrating video streaming into council meeting systems is not merely a technological upgrade but a catalyst for cultural change. As Australian and New Zealand local governments navigate the complexities of a digital and hybrid environment, prioritising transparency and accessibility will shape a future where community members can actively participate in the democratic process, informed and empowered by easily accessible information.

 

 

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