According to a RichmondHill staff report streaming of town meetings is viewed as a means of assuring accountability, transparency and accessibility in keeping with the town’s strategic plan to create “stronger connections in Richmond Hill”. You can read more in this Metroland piece here: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/5469102-livestreamed-richmond-hill-council-meetings-attracting-viewers/
Not only has Richmondhill enhanced their streaming service, they plan to include the monitor views of presentations and motions.
Monday night their town council agreed to cover all council and committee meetings, including budget committee of the whole, committee of the whole, formal council meetings, council public and special council meetings — all held in the council chambers — at a cost of about $6,000 for 2015.
The article references Aurora as providing both livestreaming and archived videos of specific meetings.
Let’s explore how that’s going.
Richmondhill is reporting viewership ranging from 27 to 662 online viewers.
Although Aurora’s numbers have yet to be disclosed I’m going to assume they are lower, and this is for a variety of reasons.
To date the streaming service has been implemented as poorly as the town’s website roll-out. Viewers often complain about it not being turned on for meetings or that it freezes and drops out.
Given all the headaches I’ve given up on streaming entirely and instead opt to view meetings at a time that is more convenient over on the Town’s YouTube channel which, consistent with the town’s strategic plan, is named “Townofaurora2012” :
A cursory view will show the channel populated with videos, but how watchable are they?
The March 3rd meeting ends abruptly after only 11 minutes in length:
There were power flickers in the town that night which may be a cause of such video glitch but no explanations are given in the video description.
Surely town hall has Universal Power supplies and power generators to mitigate a power fluctuation. No doubt the recording can be set to auto resume on power loss or failing that a staff member could check and reset manually.
This isn’t an isolated incident. A day earlier was a budget meeting stops after 2
I initially thought this was because the upload hit a YouTube limit of 2 hours but the Public Planning – February 25, 2015 is over 3 hours in length:
So what’s the deal here? Over one and a half weeks later and no one could be bothered to upload part 2 of this video?
Unlike Richmondhill the Town of Aurora’s YouTube channel is nowhere close to being considered a means of assuring accountability, transparency and accessibility.
Aurora does not claim to share Richmondhill’s strategic plan to create stronger connections but how exactly does this video archive achieve an “exceptional quality of life for all”?
How does it reflect a high service level for a $600,000/yr spend on communications?
If Aurora’s streaming and YouTube video viewership is low it isn’t due to lack of interest, it is due to poor execution and what appears to be a total lack of management.
This needs to be addressed by council before proceeding with a council motion to extend video streaming and recording of town committees.
Last term there was concern raised at the council table with respect to members of committees being recorded/broadcast. Here is a link to the Auroran article from September 11, 2013: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=3845
Mayor Dawe is quoted:
“There might be members of committees right now that don’t wish to be televised for some reason or another. I think that should be part of [the committee’s] terms of reference for next term.”
Councillor Michael Thompson expressed a similar view:
“I tend to side with the comment that there might be committee members who object to the live streaming. It wasn’t part of their terms of reference and they didn’t sign up for it and they might be uncomfortable. I would think the appropriate time to revisit this really is the beginning of next term when you can make this a condition of being a committee member.”
Okay so seeing as how the committees this term were recently formed I inquired with both the Mayor and Clr. Thompson as to exactly what action was taken to revise the Terms of Reference for that resolves this issue.
Here was the response I received:
Just confirmed with the Clerk that this is indeed accounted for, as all of our Terms of References are subject to the Town’s Procedural Bylaw, which provided for Committee meetings being streamed.
However, it is not as clear as it could be, so all those who have been appointed to a committee will be individually advised and the Terms of Reference documents will be revised prior to future committees being selected.
Not as clear as it could be?
Terms of Reference documents will be revised prior to “future committees”, so not for another 4 year cycle?
Why were the T.O.R. for the committees this term not updated with crystal clear terms that addressed this issue requiring members to be “individually advised”.
Someone obviously fumbled the ball on their way to slam dunk another “exceptional quality of life for all” play.
Way to go Executive Team!
Regardless it looks like the provisions for committee meetings being streamed are now covered in the procedural bylaw so that this time if someone brings up committee members being uncomfortable with being recorded the excuse can be exposed for the bullshit it is.
Can streaming be done?
One only has to look at RichmondHill to find the answer.
Yet here in Innovative Aurora residents are forced to wade through the steaming piles the Town’s Communication Department shovels at us, like this 19 second video of the Town’s GC Meeting of February 25th dealing with the Water and Wastewater Budget