Monday, September 28, 2020

What’s New in City Government Communications

 

 

By Maureen Chodaba

Communication is the key to transmission, conveyance and disclosure of information between individuals. In the operation of any legislature, it is the path of transparency among those in positions of authority and the citizens of that protectorate. And so it is with the City of Marco Island as government communications just became more effective and clear.

Some may remember the days before the construction of the Community Room at 51 Bald Eagle Drive, when meetings of city government were held at Mackle Park. A handheld microphone was passed from councilor to councilor in the course of the meeting. That setup was eventually updated with an analog system. The agendas, minutes and videos of all meetings of City Council, Planning Board and other governmental committees have been available online since January 1, 2014. However, the maintenance of legacy hardware with the analog system was neither time nor cost effective. New digital hardware installation began on June 7, 2016 and was completed on June 17, 2016. This new digital system provides better control of communication on many levels.

First, pertaining to the system at the meetings themselves, the Request to Speak function of the old system has been replaced with D’san Deliberator software and interfaces, an electronic meeting manager for small legislatures. The deliberator provides touch panel control for the chair position to regulate the speaking order of councilors in an open and fair manner. This certainly improves communications among council and committee members, but there are more new features of the system that improve communications with the public as well. City of Marco Island Information Technology Director Mark Jackson said, “We’ve also added new microphones that capture and process audio much better than the previous gooseneck microphones. Often times the staff or public share pictures, documents or even video. The installation of four 65” and seven 16” dais monitors displays presentations to our in-house audience much more vividly.”

Jackson went on to say, “We have an operator in a control room watching the meeting on a monitor fed by all of our mounted cameras throughout the community room. There are many ways to operate the system. Our department focused on the switcher’s ability to use macros. Macros allow for us to save and store camera command sequences such as pan, tilt and zoom which can be recalled with a single mouse click.” The main solution is known as Broadcast Pix, but the new system is not bundled from just one manufacturer. It consists of several pieces of equipment, each with a specific function, allowing broadcast to the viewers.

This new system provides new effective channels of communication throughout the processes of city government, increasing public involvement and awareness. Encouraging public participation, Jackson concluded by saying, “There is a lot going on behind the scenes. We encourage all presentation such as documents, pictures, PowerPoint or video that you would like to share at one of our meetings to be presented to our city clerk, Laura Litzan, at least 48 hours in advance.” Litzan may be contacted at Llitzan@cityofmarcoisland.com for more information.

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