Author: Justin Mosebach

Public Meetings 2.0

You’re busy and so is your local government. You have work, errands, family activities, chores … the list goes on. Your local government, on the other hand is constantly working on issues that affect you directly. It’s tough enough to stay informed of what your local government is doing, let alone making it to a public meeting.

Your local government allows you the opportunity to be informed and voice your opinion on issues that affect you, but how many people (including myself) actually attend those meetings and make it a priority to do so? Most people would rather not sit through an hour-long meeting waiting for that parking regulation discussion that is most important agenda item to them.

What if there was a way to stay up to date about decisions that are being made by your local government on issues that matter to you? What if you could also voice your opinion on those issues in a more informed way, at the same time, on your time, anytime, 24/7?

The answer is Internet video. According to a recent Nielsen report, there were “more than nine billion video streams viewed in the U.S. in March.”

If you had video on-demand for local government meetings, you could easily watch what really happened (the full discussion – not just a summary or someone’s interpretation of it in the minutes). Having complete and accurate information makes you better able to effectively participate in government, whether it’s writing an email or making a phone call about the issues that matter to you.

So, if there’s an easy solution, why aren’t more local governments providing this for the public?

There are several reasons, including that they consider video a disruption to the current flow that the meetings have. They’ve always done the meetings the same way. But video isn’t there to change the process. It’s there to record the process and make it more accessible to others.

Others might be overwhelmed and intimidated by the technology, thinking it’s too complicated and not applicable. They haven’t grown up with it and it seems like an unreasonable idea. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Video can be simple and useful.

Generally, officials may be thinking, “Why should we post videos of our meetings online?” The answer is simple:

Because that’s where most of your constituents are. It allows government to reach out to the people by being more accessible to them, helps citizens become more knowledgeable and involved with important issues and can help to gain their support. Online video also offers the ability to research a re-occurring agenda item and the possibility of less Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests because citizens can do the research on their own, saving the clerk time and the government money.

What’s stopping you from championing this for your government?