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How Video Streaming Is Changing Public Council Member Attitudes


Technology is changing the way local government councils conduct meetings

It’s all too common for local councils to go about their business somewhat secretively. The basic problem is simply that average people tend to stay away from meetings.

It’s easy to understand; after a long day of work, family members have to take care of errands, get food on the table, and prepare for tomorrow. It’s hard to find time to go out to a public meeting place and participate in council meetings.

And, honestly, it’s hard to find the motivation to dress up and go out only to watch long, uninteresting discussions about a number of topics that seem unimportant to most people.

The Introduction to Video Streaming

The public often doesn’t have to contribute much in the discourse of local politics. By definition, elected officials sit on local councils for the very purpose of representing their constituents. It’s important, however, for members of the public to attend such meetings in the name of transparency and holding elected officials accountable.

And when councils begin banning blog writers and reporters from public council meetings, it’s a strong sign that the public is probably not keeping a close enough eye on their local council proceedings.

That’s why video streaming local public council meetings has become such an important transparency tool in the 21st century. Not only does it allow members of the public to monitor and participate in local meetings remotely; it may actually be changing the attitudes of council members.

Related Resource: Learn more about our transparency bundle

With more visibility than ever, these changes work in favor of members of the public who take advantage of live video streams to stay involved in local politics. People are able to participate without sacrificing much of their time or interrupting their daily routines.

Board Meeting Software and Public Participation

A group of decision makers around a table with the caption An incredible feature of this video casting technology is its ability to open two-way discourse between local councils and participating members of the public.

Beyond encouraging more members of the public than ever before to monitor council proceedings, video streaming council meetings enable those people watching to interact. The public can send questions and reactions to the council in real-time as the meeting goes on.

Council members may or may not choose to halt proceedings to field inquiries or reactions from the public. The truly important effect of this feature, however, is the fact that council members not only realize they are being watched, but are being held accountable for decisions and comments they make throughout the course of the meeting.

Working in a Fishbowl: Video Streaming Changes Attitudes

It’s not that public council members are bad people who don’t want to help their communities. They’re usually not trying to advance some personal agenda by taking advantage of the public. However, in the day-to-day work of a public representative, it’s easy to lose sight of important considerations in the pursuit of specific outcomes. Just a touch of public involvement keeps the bigger picture in sight by forcing council members to work through the lenses of community members.

It’s sometimes known as the fishbowl effect: like fish in a tank, video streaming makes council members visible to all. You can think of the way curved glass makes a tiny fish look bigger as an analogy for how video streaming council meetings projects the proceedings to the public in a big way. They’re not just more visible to the public; the eyes of the community actually change the way council members behave.

The public not only has more information and convenient access to meetings; people now have a way to participate from home. Public council members proceed more responsibly with members of the community holding them accountable.

As more communities and public organizations adopt video streaming software as a standard for council meetings, we will see more and more examples of how this technology affects public discourse. The overall effect of getting the public more involved is better representation of public concerns in council meetings and a stronger voice for community members.