I’ve heard through various grapevines that both the Hastings and Regional Councils are proceeding to figure out the tech options and costs of webcasting their meetings.
I proposed webcasting (including archiving for ‘on-demand’ viewing) to both Councils in my budget submission on behalf of BayBuzz (also to Napier, but as with last year, they have ‘no record’ of receiving my submission).
The further research by HDC and HBRC should be nothing but routine. Ample information on costs, technology, logistics and viewership is readily available from the Taupo and New Plymouth Councils, which have been webcasting their meetings for some time now.
Here are links to their webcasts if you’re curious … Taupo and the fancier New Plymouth. Don’t expect Lord of the Rings here (although, when I think of some of the sub-plots …); just a functional way to hold Councillors accountable … at your convenience.
Hawke’s Bay Today ran an item on my submission, and published this quote from Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper, referring to his Council’s live streaming and archiving …
“… the best thing we’ve done to connect with ratepayers … Anyone can go to the archives to find out exactly how a decision was made and who voted for it … It keeps councillors under control because anybody could be watching.”
Cooper reported that more than 300 people watched his Council’s last meeting online.
Need I say more?! Three hundred people have never watched the Hastings or Regional Councils do anything, ever!
There’s simply no excuse for not embracing this technology. The costs are a fraction of what Councils spend on printing ‘public outreach’ documents that 99% of ratepayers and voters never see.
In fact, Councils would be smart to use the technology for more than webcasting Council meetings. Time and again I’ve seen Councillors and staff trudge around in good faith to make public presentations on aquatics strategies, budgets, holding companies, whatever … lucky to be greeted by a crowd of one dozen ratepayers. Why not video record well-constructed presentations — complete with explanatory charts, photos, graphs — and put those online? Let people watch and respond at their leisure. Sure, there will always be a role for face-to-face consultation. But people are busy and like to manage their own time. It’s called ‘time-shifting’ Councillors!
So, the ‘due diligence’ process should be short and sweet. We should be watching online before Rugby World Cup has come and gone.
There’s only one reason Councillors could possibly resist this new-fangled technology — fear of being watched by their constituents.
Of course, it’s never over till it’s over. So stay tuned … I’ll report again when the cameras are being installed.