Leeds council to have another go at webcasts after trial dogged by difficulties

Screenshot of  trial No 1

Screenshot of trial No 1

Leeds City Council looks set to have another go at trialling the webcasting of council meetings after its first attempt was dogged by technical – and other -difficulties.

Councillors sitting on one of the council’s committees are being asked to give the go-ahead next week to a second trial on 27th February, when the council meets to discuss next year’s budget.

Public sector webcast specialists Public-i carried out the first trial for the council at the end of November. There’s archive footage on the council’s website, but in the end it never went out live.

ms41Why not? Well, it turns out that the meeting chosen for the trial was the wrong kind of meeting for a live webcast.

And even if it had been the right kind, technical problems meant it still wouldn’t have gone out live.

“The State of the City Council meeting held on 28th November 2012 was recorded and webcast by Public-i. The meeting itself was in two parts with workshops taking place in between. As a consequence it was decided that it would not be appropriate to provide a live broadcast of the event,” says a council report prepared for next Tuesday’s committee meeting.

“There were some technical difficulties which would have prevented live webcasting the event and Public-i have offered a second trial webcast to demonstrate the reliability of the system,” it adds .

“Increase community engagement”

civic_hall_fullThe report didn’t go into the detail of what went wrong, but said Public-i had offered to carry out the second trial free of charge.

The archived footage – which you can see here – has so far been accessed only 391 times. To be fair, as the report notes: “there has been no significant promotion of the webcast or its continuing availability”.

Why the webcasts in the first place?

It’s to “make a contribution to promoting the democratic process and to increasing the transparency of the Council’s decision making”.

“It … could potentially make an important contribution to … increasing community engagement by enabling more of its citizens to having greater involvement in the democratic process,” said a report in August last year when the idea of the trials first came up.

If February’s trial goes better than the first, you could be watching council sessions live on your favourite device from May onwards.

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3 Responses to Leeds council to have another go at webcasts after trial dogged by difficulties

  1. Paddle Daddle says:

    “Council sessions live on your favourite device from May onwards.” Be still my beating heart.

  2. Jeff says:

    Hey Leeds Citizen.
    I consider webcasting a very poor way to promote engagement.
    Who watches these webcasts?
    Any idea how much installation of this system will cost the council?
    Will all committee meetings subsequently be held in the council chamber to allow the public to get full benefit of this system?
    Last question (I promise).
    Will the council cancel their stenographer and the verbatim report if video archives are to be made available in future?

    • £16k a year to run, plus one-off £6k to upgrade current audio system. See at bottom of this earlier post.

      I think they barking up wrong tree in imagining that people will want to watch boo-ya politics on display at full council meetings. Much more useful would be live webcasts of decision-making executive from main committee room (Lib-Dem leader was complaining the other day that no journalist attended last week). They’ve looked at price of kitting out that room (£9k more), but no indication that it’s a priority for therm.

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