Communities secretary, Eric Pickles, recently signed a parliamentary order to allow the public recording of local meetings. I would like to offer you some practical advice on how you can bring your town halls and council chambers into the 21st century by choosing the right technology to facilitate these recordings.
When assessing what technology is required in your particular organisation I believe the best place to start is by taking a close look at the layout of your meeting room/s in order to ascertain what facilities you might like to put in place to allow public and reporters easy access to the proceedings.
During your next meeting it might be prudent to sit in the public gallery to get a feel for the sight lines and audio quality available in this area.
Perhaps ask yourself these questions:
Do you get a clear unobstructed view of the proceedings?
Can you hear all parties clearly and intelligibly?
Anyone who is Tweeting, blogging, or recording a meeting will need to see and hear the proceedings clearly in order to provide an accurate record. If you believe that your public areas are failing to meet these basic requirements you might be surprised at how simply this can be rectified by choosing the right solution.
Local public and press will be very keen to come and exercise their new recording rights so offering them the right conditions will ensure you meet the regulations and enhance your public relationship.
You may like to use this opportunity as a good time to review your existing audio visual facilities. For example, Most meeting rooms will normally have some kind of microphone system installed.
Is this system fully functioning? When did it last have a service? Are you able to provide a service to people who require hearing assistance?
Older wired microphone systems can be easily replaced with up to date wireless systems but great care must be observed when choosing the right equipment for your venue.
If there are reduced sight lines in your room proving a obstructed view of the proceedings you may like to consider installing your own camera system to record meetings and sharing the recordings either in real time through a web streaming solution or to an archive perhaps based in the cloud.
Providing your own recording solution may help to alleviate problems associated with people bringing their own recording devices such as iPhones, Androids, and Llaptops, all of which are now equipped with wireless technology that could potentially cause interference/congestion with your own internal Wi-Fi equipment and then there are potential Health & Safety issues to be observed.
In future comment pieces I will be drilling down deeper and trying to de-mystify some of the dark science that surrounds these technologies in order to help you make more informed decisions when choosing audio visual equipment and systems.
Jason B Williams, from Brähler ICS UK Limited, is a member of the Institute of Sound and Communications Engineers and has nearly 25 years’ experience in the audio visual industry.