[Chtechcomm] Carrboro to test online meeting records
tbuckner at ibiblio.org
Thu Nov 3 07:54:28 EST 2005
Carrboro to test online meeting records
BY KAYLA CARRICK
November 03, 2005
Carrboro town staff are asking for feedback about a new feature that
allows broadcasts of Board of Aldermen meetings to stream into
residents’ homes through the Internet.
The meetings, along with other town group discussions, are now available
as archived broadcasts on the town’s Web site,
Andy Vogel, information and technology officer for the town, is asking
residents to e-mail him at avogel at ci.carrboro.nc.us with concerns or
If the demand exists, Carrboro also might add audio-only streams for
dial-up users, since recordings of the meetings, at 225 kilobytes each,
are available only to computers with broadband connections.
“A lot of people want to see what happens at the meetings,” Town Clerk
Sarah Williamson said. “This is easy access; you just get on the Web.”
Williamson said the town won’t discontinue transcripts of the meetings
just because the video is available.
“We will definitely still provide the minutes of the meetings,” she said.
Vogel said the town pays for a certain bandwidth — the amount of data
that can be passed along a communications channel in a given period of
time. Adding the online streams only will put to use the resource the
town already pays for, he said.
“It doesn’t cost the town any more money or time,” Vogel said. “A button
just needs to be pressed along with the current VHS recording. The
computer has the software to save the broadcast to the hard drive.”
Carrboro set up the streaming capabilities in conjunction with the
town’s wireless Internet initiative, completed last fall, that brought
wireless to a majority of the downtown.
“I’m glad that it’s all finally happening,” Mayor Mike Nelson said.
“They’ve been talking about making the meetings available online for a
while. It’s really great.”
Streams come in RealPlayer format, and the program must be downloaded
prior to viewing.
Town officials stress that residents seeking to view the meetings must
download RealPlayer at their own risk.
The town will not provide technical support for problems that arise from
the online streams, Vogel said.
Before the online option became available, meetings were recorded only
on VHS tapes, which then were accessible to the public to view at Town Hall.
“I have to make the minutes,” Williamson said. “It’s much easier to
watch the meetings on my computer while doing this rather than using a VCR.”
While aiding the town staff internally, the online streams also will
provide easy access for locals wishing to view the meetings.
“Now people don’t have to come in and rewind, play, fast forward,” Vogel
said. “They can watch meetings late at night or on weekends if they need to.
“This will be helpful for residents, town officials and reporters.”
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