In an era where technology is reshaping the way we interact with information and our communities, local governments in Australia are facing the imperative to incorporate audio and video streaming into their meeting processes.
As Australian communities demand increasing levels of trust from government, the integration of video streaming into council meeting systems is emerging as a transformative force, enhancing transparency, accountability, and community engagement.
We explore the advantages of streaming council meetings through video and how this practice can improve transparency, ultimately fostering greater trust within the community.
State-based transparency mandates are driving live-streaming activity in council
The increasing emphasis on transparency and accountability in Australian local government is driving the mandate for live streaming and recording council meetings. This initiative aims to make the intricate workings of council proceedings more accessible to the public. By embracing video streaming technology, local governments aspire to foster increased community involvement while instilling a greater sense of trust in the decision-making process. Implementing robust systems for live streaming and recording becomes paramount to ensure seamless accessibility and information retrieval.
Without good systems, the challenges of hybrid meetings increase pressure on governance and IT
As local governments in Australia transition to hybrid meetings encompassing physical and virtual attendance, a new set of challenges emerges. Meeting administrators face complexities in managing various aspects, from minuting and bookmarking videos accurately, to coordinating motions and requests to speak to navigating voting procedures and integrating video conferencing. These challenges, particularly for new councillors, underscore the necessity for comprehensive systems that streamline processes and ensure a seamless hybrid meeting experience.
However, Resolve offers integration features that enable users to automate many of these aspects, including video bookmarking, and conveniently access, edit, and view everything from a single location. This streamlines the process, making it more user-friendly for both staff and communities.
As Eve Newbegin from Baw Baw Shire Council states, it has been a game-changer for council in terms of streamlining their council meeting process.
“I instantly loved that it was browser-based and it could be accessible for everyone when they needed it – this became invaluable when working in a hybrid environment. The integration was also impressive. We no longer had to work from various portals to upload agendas, minutes, or streamed video – it was all accessible in one place and just seemed so much easier.” - Eve Newbegin, Baw Baw Shire Council
Breaking down video information ensures the right information can be found by all stakeholders, on-demand
While live streaming and video conferencing enhance transparency, they also introduce complexity to the in-meeting experience for councillors and the community. This demands robust technological systems that facilitate efficient bookmarking and navigation, allowing councillors and residents to quickly locate and access relevant agenda items, reports, and minutes. To authentically increase transparency, meeting information must be easily consumable by the public who often only want information on specific items.
Councils utilising this feature in Resolve have found that it also brings advantages for council staff. Instead of relying on administrative feedback for council decisions, interested parties can access information within minutes of the meeting by viewing the live stream, reducing frustration.
Kurtis Redman from Redman Solutions further explains how this functionality benefits users.
Platforms that provide 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 having to sift through mountains of irrelevant information. - Kurtis Redman, Redman Solutions
Councillors’ need support to manage increased transparency in decision-making
Councillors are primary decision-makers in the transparency equation. Ensuring transparency involves not only the accessibility of information but also the effective communication of decisions. As councillors navigate their roles in decision-making, 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 comprehensive systems that not only facilitate transparency in the overarching council proceedings but also consider the individual comfort and preparedness of councillors for the video format.
Systems must keep up with evolving transparency practices in council meetings
Both community members and councils in Australia 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. Open, digitally accessible council debate is a significant way for councils to demonstrate their commitment to transparency. It necessitates ongoing efforts needed to refine transparency practices and embed them as an integral aspect of governance through well-designed and efficient systems.
In conclusion, the integration of video streaming into council meeting systems is not merely a technological upgrade but a catalyst for cultural change. As Australian 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.