By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 22 2016
Minden Hills council recently made a decision to forgo the live streaming of council meetings to the Internet at least for now.
While it’s true one could argue that providing a live stream of council meetings would provide increased transparency and potentially increase engagement of residents in municipal affairs one could also argue that not enough residents would tune in to justify any large expenditure on the facilitation of live streaming.
However it’s not necessary for the process to require any large expenditure.
During a recent council meeting a staff report showed that Bracebridge has sunk some $160000 into the live streaming of its council meetings as well as a system for the digital archiving of those videos.
This is a ridiculous and unnecessary expense.
Live streaming apps such as Periscope are free to use. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter now also offer live streaming options on their platforms. I could literally live stream the writing of this column with my iPhone right now.
It would be incredibly boring to watch yes but I could do it.
Most platforms also automatically archive recordings.
With the Minden Hills township building outfitted with wireless Internet a rudimentary live stream of council meetings could be easily achieved by setting up a device – a municipally-owned smartphone say – at one end of the council table and using one of the streaming options mentioned above.
It might not be television quality but it would also cost next to nothing.
How many people would actually watch meetings on the Internet is another matter.
In a very unscientific poll the Times conducted on Twitter 53 per cent of respondents answered they would not watch council meetings if they were available on the Internet. Actually 25 per cent of respondents clicked “no” and 28 per cent cent clicked “rather poke out my eyes.” Twenty-two per cent said they would maybe watch and 25 per cent answered they would watch meetings online.
And that’s coming from people who use the Internet. Minden Hills has a number of senior residents who don’t own computers or use the Internet.
Clearly they aren’t going to tune in.
However for those who would Minden Hills has a simple cheap option to facilitate live streaming.