[Chtechcomm] Carrboro to test online meeting records

Terri Buckner tbuckner at ibiblio.org
Thu Nov 3 07:54:28 EST 2005

Carrboro to test online meeting records
Online exclusive

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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