The Town of Hay River is ready to start live streaming council meetings on the Internet.
The new system is expected to be launched with the Dec. 9 meeting.
“About a month ago we put the infrastructure in place and did some testing and validation with our provider on site,” said Glenn Smith, the assistant senior administrative officer with the town. “Since then we’ve been doing more live tests with a full council.”
There is a new camera on the ceiling at the back of council chambers.
Speaking on Nov. 27, Smith said three meetings had been recorded up to then, but not posted to the Internet.
“So that’s allowed us to test, primarily audio levels,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge is getting your audio levels consistent because there’s a lot of variables. We’ve been coaching councillors how to sit and approach the mic. Facing it, proper tone and projection are important.”
The testing has found some variances between people, Smith noted. “So we’re trying to get those levels all matched up and into a better state, or a state that we’ll be happy with and the public will be happy with.”
The live streaming will involve 12 mics for council members and administration officials.
“We’re recycling the old audio system,” said Smith. “The video quality is definitely going to be a higher quality. But we hope that the audio performance and the solution as a whole is better than what it used to be.”
In years past, council meetings had sometimes been broadcast on the community television station.
However, Smith said there had been issues with “reliability” and that system has not been operational for over two years.
People will be able to access the meetings in two ways once live streaming begins. There will be a link in the agendas posted on the town website before each meeting. Residents can also search for the Town of Hay River on YouTube, which will host the live streaming.
“That YouTube channel will go live just prior to Dec. 9. That’s our target date,” said Smith. “And from there you’ll be able to look at historical recordings of the videos or again connect into the live channel broadcasts.”
Archiving the meetings will be an advantage for residents, he added. “So if you’re eating supper Monday at 6:30 and it’s not the best time for you to watch the council meeting, you now have the flexibility to watch it at a time that works for you.”
At least to begin with, there won’t be a comments feature on YouTube.
Smith noted that about $15,000 for the new system was included in the town’s 2019 capital budget.
“But the actual project cost is going to be quite a bit lower than that,” he said. “Under $10,000, I would say.”
The new system has a monitoring feature that allows for the camera – under the control of the council administrator – to be focused on several different areas during a meeting.
“We have set up four preset camera angles,” said Smith. “So when it’s the regular council discussion, the overview of the council is presented. When it’s the administrative enquiries, you push a button and it rotates to the administration angle. If there’s a presentation, it focuses in on the television where we would be broadcasting presentation material.”