The Hastings Council last week endorsed BayBuzz’s call for webcasting and online archiving of Council meetings. Necessary funding has been included in the new Long Term Plan for 2012-2022. Nearly 100 BayBuzz followers endorsed the proposal by ‘signing on’ to my submission, or making their own.

Hopefully it won’t take forever to get the video equipment installed in Council Chambers and the web service up and running.

Tomorrow (Monday) it’s on to the Regional Council!

In putting my verbal submission to HBRC together, I came across this 2011 AUT University study of internet usage in New Zealand.

Important ammunition here with respect to broadband penetration, even in rural areas of NZ, and relevant usage of online services.

In urban areas, use of the internet is now up to 90% of the population, with 95% of urban home users having broadband access. In rural areas, 85% are internet users. and 84% of these users have broadband access. Which means that even here in Hawke’s Bay, most ratepayers will be able to readily view live webcasts and archived video of sessions.

96% of Internet users access the Internet from home. People also access the Internet at work (44%), at school/university (19%), at other people’s homes (17%), at libraries (7%), and at Internet cafes (2%). 18% of users are online from home for at least 20 hours a week, and almost two thirds (63%) spend at least 5 hours on the Internet at home per week.

An increasing majority (69%) of New Zealanders rate the Internet as important for getting information, while television, newspapers and radio are losing influence. Over 40% of Internet users in New Zealand now look online for news every day. 26% watch videos online on at least a weekly basis. 42% of users make or receive phone calls online, through an application like Skype. 64% of internet users belong to a social networking site, the vast preponderance of those citing Facebook.

Getting specifically to government services and information, 57% of internet users say they have used the internet in the past year to get information about Government or Council services, and 48% have used Government or Council services that are delivered online.

And finally, 39% of internet users have gone online in the last year to get information about Government or Council policy issues, while 18% have looked for information about an MP, political party or candidate. 10% of users have emailed an MP, and 17% have emailed other Government or Council officials. 5% of users say they have communicated information regarding a protest or rally.

As I conclude in my HBRC submission, it’s time for the Regional Council to recognise the significance of digital media as a beneficial tool for both citizens and local bodies.

Thanks again to all of you who voiced your support — va the internet of course — for the webcasting initiative!

Tom Belford

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3 Comments

  1. I am all for webcasting (and storing meetings on tape for access ont the web by the public) – for one thing it makes it easier for people to participate in democracy. It also cuts down on the unfortunate asides and backstabbing comments I have heard over the years.

    Not much point the NCC putting in a system just yet – we should wait first for the outcome on the amalganation argument.

    Why have 3 webcasting systems around the region when we may only need one. If amalganation does not go ahead then I will be all for the NCC putting in their own system.

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