Elkins council meetings to be streamed online
Elkins, W. Va., July 14, 2021: Elkins City Council meetings can now be viewed online, thanks to a newly installed streaming system that transmits both audio and video from the council chamber in city hall to the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Meetings can be viewed live and will also be archived on both sites for later review.
Although technical issues encountered using commercial conferencing services during the pandemic drove home the need for a better way to share council meetings with remote viewers, city officials had already been thinking about ways to make council meetings even more accessible.
“We’re always looking for ways to increase transparency and provide the public with as much information as possible about their city government,” says Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton. “The strategic plan council adopted in 2018 included a goal of increasing public engagement, and broadcasting council meetings is a great step in that direction.”
City of Elkins contracted with Electronic Specialty, the same company that modernized the council-chamber sound system in early 2020, to install a streaming system. Electronic Specialty recommended a solution that uses a broadcast-quality high-definition PTZOptics camera with a 12x optical zoom to capture video. Digital audio is captured from the chamber’s new sound board. An AV encoder streams the resulting signal to the city’s social media pages.
Electronic Specialty based its recommendations for this system on its extensive experience deploying similar solutions throughout the state.
“We’ve set up streaming systems for a lot of churches, county commissions, courts, and even the state legislature, and we’re always evaluating new equipment,” says Mark Wood, the AV manager for Electronic Specialty. “The PTZOptics camera is an excellent balance of cost and quality for this kind of setup.”
The overall cost of the new streaming system was about $3,500.
To allow city officials and staff to learn and test the system, at first only council meetings will be broadcast. In the fall, city staff will evaluate the possibility of broadcasting committee meetings as well.
According to Wood, Elkins’s new streaming system puts the city ahead of the curve.
“There aren’t many cities in West Virginia we know of that have deployed this kind of capability,” he says. “Elkins is kind of on the cutting edge by going this route.”
Sutton agrees that the new system should be seen as a point of pride for Elkins officials, residents, and business owners alike.
“Council makes decisions that affects thousands of people, including residents and business owners, and all of those people have the right to observe the process and understand how their representatives are arriving at those decisions,” she says. “By making it simple and convenient to view meetings online, the new streaming system really underlines our commitment to transparency and public engagement.”
The meetings will be streamed on: