Sunday 25 February 2024
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Nottingham

Council invests in better tech to livestream meetings

New technician jobs will be created at Nottinghamshire County Council as the authority invests in new hybrid meeting technology for staff and live-streaming cameras for major meetings.

The Conservative-led authority will approve the new roles this week as it looks to kit out rooms across its buildings to better host conference and online meeting facilities.

Further new jobs will be created to control and oversee upgraded live-streaming technology in its County Hall council chamber that a senior councillor says will “open up democracy” to the public.

It follows the council approving the new technology in January this year, with £437,341.73 to be spent in total on the live-streaming and hybrid meeting room kits.

Previous documents approved by the council stated £335,269.53 will be spent to improve existing equipment within the council chamber used to broadcast councillors’ meetings online via YouTube.

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The remaining £102,072.20 will be spent on new technology in meeting rooms to allow people to join via online meetings, with new monitors, screens and microphones included in the tech.

These costs, the authority says, include funding for staff to control and oversee the maintenance of the kit alongside the hardware itself.

Now Councillor Richard Jackson (Con), portfolio holder for finance, will take an executive decision this week to approve four new IT roles so the technology can be maintained.

This will include an audio-visual devices services manager and a technical specialist to ensure the hybrid meeting technology is working when needed and providing any servicing to the equipment.

The AV specialist will be expected to be an “expert in the setup of the equipment, the technology employed and the infrastructure needed to run it”.

The remaining roles will oversee the new live-streaming technology for meetings in the chamber, which is currently kitted out with technology that regularly fails during broadcasts and is described as “not fit for purpose”.

Two new production engineer/broadcast technician roles will be approved to oversee this technology, ensuring meetings are broadcast to a high standard and then archived on the authority’s website.

In total, the four new roles will cost the authority £154,600 for the remainder of this financial year before rising to £185,600 annually from 2023/24.

Cllr Jackson said: “The existing technology in the chamber is very poor.

“Post-pandemic we’ve not seen the number of people coming back to the public gallery and council meetings like we used to have, and this opens up democracy far more to people and it’s a lot more accessible.

“As far as the internal technology and the meeting rooms, this is really important and it goes with how the rest of the business is moving.

“It lowers travel costs for people not having to come into the office for meetings and will save the council money in that sense.”

However, an opposition councillor has raised concerns with the plans, including the amount of funding allocated for the technology and the decision to push ahead when the future of County Hall is under review.

Cllr Dave Shaw (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall West said: “Parts of County Hall now resemble sports bars with huge widescreen TVs everywhere you look.

“I am concerned that the Conservatives are spending hundreds of thousands on technology at a time when they readily admit County Hall could be up for sale.

“Last week’s cabinet meeting has had just 111 views on YouTube, less than one per cent of Nottinghamshire’s population, so they are clearly still having an issue with public engagement.”

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