The government that I work for, the City of Troy, Michigan, has a motto: “The City of Tomorrow, Today.” In many ways, the city has lived up to that billing. In matters of my field – cable television and internet media – it’s had to catch up a little.
Troy was a latecomer to cablecasting its council meetings. Although the municipal channel had been in existence since 1983, council meetings were not shown until 1998, and meetings were not live until 2002. Why the hesitance in embracing that communication strategy? I’m not exactly sure. Some old-guard councilmembers believed that grandstanding, filibustering and other such nonsense would ensue, and to some degree it did.
Along with the live proceedings, the Globecaster system was upgraded to include an Ethernet output that then could be directed to a PC using Windows Media Encoder. To enhance productivity, that output was directed to the city’s intranet so that staff could view meetings in offices or conference rooms instead of waiting inside the council chambers for their agenda item to appear. After a successful year and a major enhancement to the city servers and website, the City of Troy went live to the Web.
Now for the next step: archiving those web broadcasts for later research and review. This would be an important and cost-saving undertaking. Currently, when the council meetings start, the staff member directing the meeting must start recording on five different types of media scattered around the control room: SVHS for channel playback, 2 VHS for library checkout and staff reviews, DVD for archiving, web output, and audio tapes for the City Clerk. Someday—and it needs to be soon—all those media types will be consolidated to single-source digital recording. The question is: what will the format be and what will the distribution be? I still think podcasting is the best way to go.