COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Update on Podcasting Program

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Continuation and expansion of podcasting program

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Tucker, White, Davis, Catlin

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

January 3, 2007

 

ACTION:     X                     INFORMATION: 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                          INFORMATION:   

 

ATTACHMENTS:   No

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The Board of Supervisors has expressed interest in making their meetings more accessible to the public, specifically the possibility of using podcasting technology as a means of sharing meeting information with citizens.  In May, 2006, the Board authorized staff to initiate a six-month pilot project involving podcasting all Board of Supervisors meetings.  Staff has podcasted Board meetings from July, 2006, through December, 2006, and is reporting results back to the Board.  In addition, staff has compiled information on video streaming possibilities as requested by several Board members.

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 1:  Enhance the Quality of Life for all Albemarle County Residents. 

 

DISCUSSION:

Because the County already captures audio from Board of Supervisors meetings via the FTR Gold recording equipment used by the Clerk’s Office to record minutes, creating podcasts was a relatively easy task.  The website provides a list of podcasts that grows as meetings are recorded and converted to MP3 files.  For the first five months of the pilot program, the meeting podcast consisted of one continuous audio file that covered the entire recorded portion of the individual meeting.  For the December meeting, we provided several options with the podcast including both the entire continuous audio and a series of “chunked” podcasts that focused on individual agenda items.

 

Podcast Usage

The following table shows the level of response to the podcasts to date.  Please note that the December statistics reflect only the December 6 day meeting.

 

Month

Visits

Page Views

Avg. Visit Length

Unique Visitors

July 2006

103

52

14:51

56

August 2006

206

170

1:10

67

September 2006

202

152

2:20

62

October 2006

249

159

2:11

72

November 2006

221

157

1:03

50

December 2006*

121

91

6:06

62

 

Staff feels that the response has been positive and believes that the podcasting program should continue with two modifications.  First, chunking the meeting into discrete agenda items makes the podcasts much more user friendly to citizens who may have a specific interest in only one or two topics.  In order to do that most easily and effectively, staff needs to purchase equipment that will automate that function and provide more flexibility in how the audio is manipulated.  The new equipment will also allow staff to produce podcasts of events that are not recorded via the FTR gold system, which will greatly expand our ability to share audio with our citizens.

 

Video streaming

There has been interest expressed in posting video to the County website in addition to audio.  There are several ways that video is being used in other jurisdictions.  One option is real-time video streaming, which involves live broadcast of video via the website as the meeting or event is actually happening.  Another option is delayed broadcast, which involves capturing video and posting it to the website at a later time.  While the technical requirements for video streaming are not overwhelming, Albemarle County currently does not have any means to capture video on a regular basis at the level of quality required for broadcast.  There would need to be a significant investment in equipment and staff training to bring us to the level of producing broadcast quality video.  One option is to explore partnership opportunities with the City of Charlottesville, who currently does have the equipment to produce broadcast quality video.  While it would be very challenging to create a partnership that would allow complete recording of all our Board of Supervisors meetings, there might be some particularly significant events where an arrangement could be worked out.

 

The following chart gives information on a number of jurisdictions in Virginia regarding their website audio and video capabilities.  Every jurisdiction referenced that is currently video streaming has a cable television provider that produces the video on a public access channel.

 

County/City

Population

BOS/City Council

Local Cable

 

(as of 2000)

Meeting Streaming

Channel

City of Virginia Beach

425,257

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

VBTV

City of Chesapeake

199,184

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

WCTV

City of Norfolk

234,403

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

WCTY

Loudon County

169,599

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

Prince William County

280,813

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

City of Roanoke

94,911

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

RVTV-3

Arlington County

189,453

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

AVN-74

James City County

48,102

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

JCC TV48

Chesterfield County

259,903

No

Yes

 

 

 

 17

City of Suffolk

63,677

No

No

 

 

 

 

Fairfax County

969,749

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

Channel 16

Hanover County

86,320

No

No

 

 

 

 

Henrico County

262,300

No

Yes

 

 

 

HCTV-17

Spotsylvania County

90,395

No

Yes

 

 

 

Adelphia-16; Cox-24 

City of Bristol

17,367

No

No

 

 

 

 

City of Charlottesville

45,049

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

There will be a cost of approximately $800 to obtain the new equipment, including a recorder, microphones, and software, necessary to continue providing the “chunking” option for the podcasts and to allow podcasting of events beyond Board of Supervisors meetings.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board authorize that the podcasting program be continued and expanded to provide the ability to chunk discrete agenda items and that the equipment necessary to have the capability to podcast events outside of the Board meetings be obtained.  If the Board is interested in some type of video streaming, staff recommends that we explore a partnership with Charlottesville as a first option.

 

 

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