By Adam Petrovsky, GovEd Practice Leader, Logicalis US
For many government and educational organizations, public meetings are a very important part of the democratic process. Citizens with an interest in observing or participating in public meetings often attend school board meetings, city or county council meetings, zoning commission meetings or zoning board meetings. As advances in technology have improved, however, public meetings have adopted a handful of common tools. Solutions such as live broadcasting via cable networks or the web, audio reinforcement with better microphone and PA systems, laptop use, and projectors displaying presentations are regularly seen at public meeting events.
Unfortunately, most of these technologies only represent small changes from an analog solution to a digital one – think writing on a flip chart vs. projecting a PowerPoint presentation on a screen. While these technologies do increase efficiency and productivity, their use has not resulted in true transformative change.
Recently, however, a number of digital government communications and collaboration solutions have emerged that can dramatically change how public meetings operate, and allow both the governing bodies and the public a better overall experience. Using the right communications and collaboration tools, public meetings can be transformed in a number of important ways:
Remote Video Participation
Remote video participation allows citizens or board members to leverage immersive video conferencing technology to participate from a remote location. Remote locations could include additional public sites to avoid meeting congestion or individual conferencing units assigned to board members. These solutions are integrated into the overall video broadcast and provide tools for meeting management.
Remote Expert Testimony
Remote expert testimony allows experts to comment and participate in public meetings without the travel and expense that would typically be incurred by the governing body. Few governing bodies have the capabilities or funds to bring these types of experts into a public forum, but by using communications and collaboration solutions commonly available to businesses today, governments can cost effectively bring experts to a public meeting via virtual means.
Virtual Public Meetings
Virtual public meetings allow a fully functional meeting environment virtually in the cloud. Special configurations for public meetings provide unique functionality and full control by the governing body, but allow for much greater citizen exposure and engagement. Citizens simply register for a meeting ahead of time, are assigned identifiers, and meeting managers can control the look and feel of the virtual meetings. Live video, presentations and Q&A sessions can all be integrated, documented and recorded for later viewing.
By integrating translation services to either remote video participation or in a virtual public meeting, public meetings can become more relevant to community members who do not speak English.
Clearly, each public meeting forum is different and requires a custom approach based on the requirements of the governing body. As a result, government entities interested in transforming the way they currently hold public meetings should connect with an experienced solution provider like Logicalis that has a dedicated government practice and deep expertise in the design, planning and integration of these types of technologies into public meeting environments.
Want to learn more? Explore Logicalis’ GovEd website, then drill down into the kinds of audio visual services and communication and collaboration solutions Logicalis offers to target, increase productivity and generally delight your audience. You can also read Logicalis’ recent GovEd news here.