Posts Tagged ‘Youtube’

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?  

Hello birminghamnewsroom.com and congratulations

Posted on 2nd July 2009 by
Birmingham News Room header

Birmingham News Room header

After a brief consultation process and suggestions  from a number of folk, including this lengthy burble from me, Birmingham City Council has launched birminghamnewsroom.com.

It’s a wordpress based site for their news service to the public and press and  describes itself as

…your first stop for all the news from Europe’s largest local authority.

The aim is to improve our news delivery, so we want the newsroom to be a useful resource for both journalists and members of the general public.

Last rites to the press release?

Deborah Harries, head of news at the council, blogged about where they are at:

The press office at Birmingham City Council has moved into the 21st century and after months of hard work we’ve finally launched our online newsroom. This is an exciting development for my team and hopefully this site will prove to be a useful resource for journalists, bloggers and residents.

We haven’t quite read the last rites to the press release but the world of media relations is changing. (my emphasis)

People consume news in many different ways now and we’re keen to reach a wider audience through the burgeoning and exciting range of social networking tools available. Don’t get me wrong, this is far from the finished article and we’re looking for your views to help further develop the service.

Included is:

A dedicated Youtube Channel, managed partly through vodpod, with straightforward self made content like this:

There is a series of photos in their self hosted gallery (I’d like to be able to link to and use these images) and the twitter account, which popped up a while ago. Plus the all important RSS feed(s?) and it’s good to see comments enabled on individual blog posts/news items.  I imagine trackback is too?

What do I think?

I think it’s wonderful. I’ve got a head full of things that could be done next or perhaps a litle differently, but they can wait.  It’s through using social media that you get good at it and here the council has created a wonderful place for doing just that.

Congratulations to Geoff Coleman, who’s been nursing this for some months, and Deborah Harries for just getting on with it.

(Declaration – from time to time I get paid by Birmingham City Council – not for this though!)