Meeting video “increasingly popular” –AJC

Patrick Fox writes in the AJC, 18 Jan 2011, Meeting access video grows among city councils:
Metro Atlanta cities want to air their business in living rooms. Alpharetta agreed to spend $68,000 for a video recording system in its council chambers. Dunwoody will shell out $93,000 for a digital video recording system, enabling residents to view city council and planning commission meetings live from home.

While not every city electronically records its council meetings, the practice has become increasingly popular.

“It’s an overall trend of cities, going where people are to share information, to keep people in touch,” said Amy Henderson, Georgia Municipal Association spokeswoman.

“People just aren’t going to council meetings.”

Alpharetta’s new system will allow the city to archive and time-stamp recordings so residents can call them up online and navigate to a specific agenda item. It won’t provide live streaming of meetings but will accommodate that in the future, Assistant City Manager James Drinkard said.

Council members said the system will protect the city from litigation and open up government to more residents, especially those who have never been to a city council meeting.

“Lots of them do not attend; I wish they would,” council member Cheryl Oakes said.

As I was discussing with Valdosta’s mayor, it doesn’t have to cost as much as that. Even if it does, it’s a one-time upfront capex expense, and the one hopes the fancy ones would handle uch of the busy work of indexing and posting that otherwise staff would have to do.

All that plus they can make sure the whole meeting is visible, instead of leaving it to volunteers like us who will usually pick and choose and post with our own idiosyncratic commentary. Municipalities can instead post with their own idiosyncratic commentary. And they can attach related documents, such as whatever they were voting on, or whatever a citizen handed them in Citizens Wishing to the Heard.