Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Nottingham

Council plans £350,000 upgrade to live-streaming technology for public meetings

Nottinghamshire County Council plans to spend more than £335,000 on live-streaming technology to improve the quality of broadcasts of meetings from the council chamber.

This would include large, mounted wall displays to allow officers to attend meetings virtually while tracking cameras would be installed to focus on councillors when they speak.

The authority approved some live-stream technology in two County Hall rooms before the Covid pandemic struck. This includes cameras within the council chamber and the Rufford Suite.

But a council report on the issue says this technology was “never intended for long-term use”, presenting “significant challenges” to the council in live-streaming meetings and broadcasting them online.

Difficulties, the council says, include equipment “malfunctioning”, with the current equipment also making it “difficult for viewers to follow”.

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Now the council wants to invest in better equipment so it can improve the quality of its broadcasting and allow residents to better follow key decisions.

Documents state £335,269.53 would be spent to improve equipment within the council chamber and the Rufford Suite, while a further £102,072.20 would be invested to provide technology in committee rooms B and C.

The council chamber and Rufford Suite investments include the tracking cameras so viewers know who is speaking, with individual microphones to be linked to councillor ID badges so their names appear on the stream.

The authority says this investment will “support integration with YouTube”, the platform used for live-streaming meetings at present.

The separate investment in the committee rooms would include remote meeting technology and also allow them to be used for a “civic purpose”.

These rooms currently have no equipment and are “too large” for the standard set-up used by the authority, meaning they would need extra cameras and microphones “in order to function properly”.

The lack of technology in these rooms also means the number of rooms suitable for live-streaming meetings is reduced “significantly”, with all council meetings currently held in the large chamber.

The council adds this investment would allow children and adult social care services to hold remote child protection conferences and meetings with the public in the committee rooms.

A decision on whether to approve the funding will be made by the economic development and asset management committee on Tuesday, January 25.

A report published ahead of the meeting states: “Prior to the pandemic and throughout, Nottinghamshire County Council was only able to introduce a temporary solution in both the council chamber and the Rufford Suite.

“These solutions were never intended for long-term use and they present significant challenges to both physical and virtual attendees of the meetings
and compromise their quality.

“The current technology challenges means that when meetings are live-streamed it is difficult for viewers to follow and identify who is speaking.

“The video and sound feeds are not of sufficient resolution and quality to be fit for purpose.

“High-profile meetings have been disrupted due to equipment malfunctioning, and the need for replacement kit and equipment to be found at short notice.

“This will continue to be the case until a permanent solution that is fit for its intended purpose can be procured.”

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