Posts Tagged ‘Birmingham City Council’

Live Streaming Council Committee meetings – How we helped Birmingham City Council Billesley Ward Committee get online.

Posted on 28th March 2014 by

I’ve mentioned about how we’ve worked in South Birmingham in conjunction with the South Birmingham Community Safety Partnership when we wrote about what Austin Rodriguez , South Birmingham Safer Places officer had to say about the project.

What I haven’t said yet is that we’ve been working on a second phase of the surgeries with him.

Austin has been doing a great thing empowering the people he works with to use social media to talk to each other, to improve where they live and  to  build a stronger communities and with him we’ve continued to build on the momentum from phase one of the project.

In February we were holding a surgery in Bartley Green that  Alex Buchanan  – Ward Councillor of Billesley – attended. He came along with Austin with the idea that he’d like to trial live streaming his ward committee meeting .  Birmingham City Council have been live streaming their meetings from the council house and he wanted to see how he could make that work locally.

The Technology

Out in the community centres and church halls where community meetings are usually held there isn’t the infrastructure the council have  – there isn’t high speed Wi-Fi or  high definition webcams and high quality controlled audio. Nor is there a bespoke website to send the feed to,  so we had to look at what was available. 

Councillor Buchanan had invested in a laptop with a webcam and a decent microphone so we decided Google Hangouts would be the way to go, using the On Air function to stream to Youtube, which also meant it could be shared via other platforms and embedded into blogs – We spent about an hour looking at how this could work for them and then on the 20th February they put it into action.

Some observations – Be brave.

You can see in the video above that while the camera was positioned in such a way that the whole top table could be seen – the microphone struggled to pick everyone up. As the people farthest away from the set up took their turn to speak at times the audio wasn’t very clear at all but then they weren’t using a multi-directional mic that can pick everyone up like at the council house. What they had was a small mic plugged into a laptop  –  but  it could have been moved to pick up more voices.

This seems obvious watching it back but again it comes back to the fact this was a trial and a learning experience. What it needs next is just a bit of bravery, Bravery to do it again and to take what they’ve learned doing this and apply it. If during the meeting they were willing to pause proceedings by just a few seconds to re-position the mic before people took their turn to talk this would greatly improve the quality of the audio, make better use of the technology they have available and improve the experience for the community watching.

In saying that though it is fantastic that Councillors are looking at ways to open up the local democratic process to more people, and live streaming of meetings is definitely a good way to go. The fact that Councillor Buchanan was willing to even consider giving this a try is fantastic and who knows what could be next? What other public conversations could take place in – well – public?  

Fair Brum: Using Social Media For Consultation – Have your say about Social Inclusion in Birmingham

Posted on 2nd November 2012 by

Fair Brum Social Inclusion Summit 20th July 2012

For the last few months we’ve supported Birmingham City Council with their Fair Brum social inclusion process. We worked with groups and individuals to show them how they could take conversations they were having with residents of Birmingham about social inclusion over to online places, to try and engage with even more people.

We supported council staff, academics and others interested in using social media to share their stories, experiences and findings of social inclusion in Birmingham. We provided them with the skills that meant they were able to contribute to, or comment on, the process via the FairBrum blog – or on their own sites – and tweet via their own accounts using the #fairbrum tag. We also helped create content and conversation by social reporting from some of their events.

As of 4th September 2012, we found the #fairbrum tag on Twitter has been used 1,600 times and appeared 1,591,590 times. That’s the gross number of times the #fairbrum tag has appeared in Twitter users’ timelines since the start of the process. (Yes, it’s an enormous number – we know not that many pairs of eyes have clocked it!)

Those numbers continued to rise. When we looked at the figures this morning the tag had been used a total of 2,479 times and appeared 2,170,039 times.

All this interaction, along with the findings of offline interactions, has been looked at to see what Birmingham’s needs are. As a result, a green paper was produced with recommendations on how we can work together across the city to address social inclusion.

Recommendations are split into seven groups:

They are all available to view, discuss and comment on, online at fairbrum.podnosh.com.

The consultation has been running for a while now. This weekend is the last chance for you to have your say, as the consultation closes on Monday, 5th November.

Follow the links above to view the groups of recommendations and click through to individual posts to add your thoughts. You can also let them know if you work for an organisation already doing what’s being recommended and add yourself to the map.

 

Free social reporter training for Birmingham based Neighbourhood Forums and Active Citizens

Posted on 3rd April 2011 by

Later this month we are running another social reporter training programme, building on the work we have done for Birmingham Local Democracy Week and the Black Country Take Part Pathfinder.

This time our work is funded through the support Birmingham City Council gives to Neighbourhood Forums in the city . The details are below and you can download them here.  If you want to come contact: (more…)