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M.D. considering live streaming meetings

Posted on November 6, 2019 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

The Municipal District of Taber is continuing to explore live-streaming their council meetings but a final decision on that won’t be coming until the new year.

“I went back to All-Net, which is our media management software provider, and asked them about their product development. I got some more information in regards to that and the really key takeaway is they don’t have a packageable product until February,” explained Bryce Surina, director of GIS and IT to M.D. council at their regular meeting on Oct. 29. “He was very confident that it would meet our needs. It was a product they were developing for municipalities in general and there are a lot of commonalities with municipalities in regard to this product. They did address some of the concerns brought up in regards to audio quality. He did mention it relies heavily on network speeds and that is the network speed of the individual streaming. Five (megabytes) was what they identified as the minimum.”

Year one estimates for live-streaming would include a video encoder, system upgrade, camera and set-up support for $3,495 while an annual cost of $1,995 would follow that.

“Pricing has stayed the same as our previous inquiry and it is $3,495 which is the first time purchase and sets us up. I would recommend that when we budget for it, to get around some of the problems that may occur, to upscale the camera a little bit which ups the audio a little. Just to make sure we get a good product right out of the gate. It will probably make your transitions a little smoother as well,” added Surina.

Internal resources will be required in maintaining the system and in editing and tagging video streams of the council meetings.

It is expected that most of the IT resources will be required to set up the application, ongoing maintenance will be minimal and editing and tagging of video will be an ongoing task for administration.

The role of editing and tagging will need to be treated as a permanent addition to an administrative staff member’s duties while the amount of work required will be directly related to the number of public meetings that are live-streamed.

“Very rarely will someone sit front to back and scan video. Tagging would be necessary to have an effective application and tagging can be done during the meeting, some of the preliminary tagging. There are tagging options built right into the application but there is a certain amount of quality control that would have to go on after to be assured the public gets a good experience. It’s all about accuracy and viewing the product as deliverable before you present it,” explained Surina. “One way to control that the most is to make a decision on limiting it to start with, say just council meetings. That would be something where we can put it in an environment where we can take a look at it and review the amount of time commitment.”

“That’s a concern, that is going to take a lot of staff time,” said Reeve Merrill Harris.

Council also inquired if a pilot project was ongoing and if a demo would be presentable for them in the new year.

“They have two pilots going. I believe they are both in northern Alberta and they are trying to be hands-on with the product and the development of the product,” answered Surina. “We should get a demo and the recommendation is we defer the decision until after we can set up a demonstration with All-Net. So have that pilot project, get the results of that pilot project and have a demo presented to us. Then a decision could be made at that time.”

A motion was made to make a final decision on the purchase and implementation of All-Net Live-streaming Module after February 2020 in order to allow administration to coordinate an All-Net product demonstration, and was carried unanimously.

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