Local governments are increasingly adopting live streaming of council meetings to increase community transparency and engagement. Many are seeking to improve the quality of their stream, having now amassed experience during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Why do governments live stream?
Many local government organisations are making their broadcasts available on the internet. Council meetings, boards, and commissions from parks and recreation to nuisance abatement are live-streaming their sessions.
World events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced government organisations to switch to an online-friendly broadcasting format. We've learned that governments must be prepared to do this quickly.
Today, it is much easier for local government communications directors, clerks, elected officials, or IT directors to broadcast their events. Governments can go live with limited staff because of how accessible live streaming is.
To provide greater community access to proceedings, the Australian government has enabled ParlTV which features (near) live streams of the Australian Parliament House. State parliaments also have live streaming in place when sittings occur.
With the global democratisation of live streaming, it's much easier for local governments to go live on the internet and reach their constituents.
Provide information and increase engagement
People, especially the younger generation, are opting to go digital. As more people are connected to the internet than ever, reaching them online is excellent for increasing engagement. Citizen feedback can be captured using the live stream, giving the audience a voice. In addition, live streaming makes the event available for those who can't attend in person. As a result, more people are involved in the real-time democratic process, wherever they are.
We live in an era of total marketing, and the political process is no exception. Having a solid digital presence is essential to large brands and politicians alike. Political figures and local governments choose to go live to be more connected with their constituents. Even if a government organisation isn't required to broadcast their public sessions, going live is an excellent way to demonstrate transparency and accountability. It creates a strong direct link between representatives and their audience.
How to set up live video streaming for Government
Setting up a live stream consists of 3 steps: capturing the audio and video, encoding it, and sending it to an online streaming destination. There are three major questions to answer before setting up a city council live stream:
- How will you capture the stream?
- Where will you be going live?
- How will you encode the video stream?
To capture the audio and video, you need to choose a camera (or multiple cameras) and place them in the meeting space. Based on a high-performance HD camera system, the APT AV 570 range combines exceptional image quality and near-silent pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) functionality, all within a robust and stylish camera unit. It provides extensive lens and connectivity options and a range of static views that make it suitable for many applications.
You can decide to go live on the most popular and public platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook Live, in streaming destinations.
The difference in setups revolves mainly around video encoding. Encoding refers to digitising video and audio to a live video format to be viewed online. Here are a few different options for encoding your city council live.
The easiest setup: dedicated hardware encoder
One option is to use a hardware encoder like the Pearl Mini to go live. The setup is simple: connect (up to) 3 cameras to the hardware encoder, configure the streaming location and start streaming via Ethernet. Switch between sources in real-time to show different angles. You can even add simple titling and overlays – names, logos, and other graphics – on the fly.
Streaming hardware like Pearl Mini allows you to go live on Facebook Live, YouTube, or any other CDN like Kaltura, Panopto, or any different secure server. Pearl Mini is integrated with Panopto and Kaltura CDNs to schedule your live streams in advance, so you don't have to worry about it. Multistreaming is also possible, which means you can go live on YouTube and Facebook Live simultaneously.
setup is more straightforward than using streaming software. It does not
require a computer - the device itself does all the encoding. Secondly,
it is straightforward to operate: all the live switching can be done
using the touchscreen display. So, you get a reliable live stream every
Advanced set-up: streaming software
If you are looking for a more advanced setup that includes several video cameras, live switching, titling and other graphics, streaming software could be the way to go. Streaming software uses a computer to encode video and audio. To bring the video into the computer, you need to use a USB capture card like the AV.io HD+.
AV professional should help to set up and operate the software. Running
streaming software also requires a powerful computer. This set-up will
require more work and competent staff than a simple encoder.
great example is how the city of Westfield, Indiana, in the United
States, uses the Epiphan Pearl to do a city council live stream. One
video source is the camera pointed at the council, and the other video
source is a laptop with the agenda. This side-by-side layout makes
following along very easy.
There are a few more things to keep in mind when setting up your live stream, such as sufficient network bandwidth, testing your equipment in advance, etc.
We hope this article clarified local government and council live
stream setups. Thanks to this digital channel of communication, more
citizens can have easy access to reliable and accurate information in a
timely fashion. Local governments can stay accountable and honest with
citizens on how business is conducted, and tax dollars are spent.
*The information in this blog is extracted from Epiphan.
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