(Dec. 19, 2014) Coming soon: City Council meetings that don’t look like they were filmed on a dirty Betamax tape.
The Ocean City Council voted this week to approve an $898-per-month contract, prospectively beginning next month, with Accela Legislative Management to provide software services for recording and presenting council meetings.
“The features of this program provide the public with timely, accurate and transparent information about government,” City Manager David Recor said.
Currently, sessions held in the council meeting room are recorded by the city’s aging audio and video equipment, and then coded and compressed for uploading to the city’s website. This takes several hours, and is inconvenient for both city staff and potential viewers in the public.
Under the Accela contract, the raw footage will be sent to Accela’s network in a cloud-computing arrangement where it will then be loaded onto the city’s website.
“Once we have the software, that coding is done on the other end. The recorded video will be available within minutes of adjourning the meeting,” Recor said.
Accela’s process would also allow for high-definition video, once the city upgrades to cameras capable of capturing at that resolution.
Accela’s module will also allow those viewing the footage on the city’s website to index the council agenda documents to specific points in the video. Agenda information, and the corresponding video of its discussion, will be searchable on Accela’s cloud.
“The real value in this is the creation of a searchable database of public information,” Recor said.
The city will also save $10,000 by not having to replace its own video coding apparatus, since the process will now be done remotely. Upgrades to the audio and video hardware in the council meeting room are planned for the coming year.
The Accela system will also make it easier to record several different municipal bodies, such as the city’s various zoning boards and commissions.
The Accela contract can be terminated at any time with 30 days notice, Recor said. The company will also provide the town with hard back-up copies of all data at least once per year.