At the usergroup just a few weeks back we were very lucky to welcome Geoff Coleman, of Birmingham City Council. Birmingham became a Connect client with us in February this year and this was the first time he’d been able to come to a Public-i usergroup. I grabbed the chance to talk to Geoff about why Birmingham had moved over to using Public-i’s Connect webcasting, after experimenting with a free service before.
Geoff explained to me that the the new administration, elected in 2012, had been keen to ensure that there was more transparency and more accountability with council meetings, particularly scrutiny meetings (which have recently started to be streamed by us).
“They felt it was important that the public had access to them and that’s why we decided to extend the streaming,” he told me. Geoff said that Public-i had made a fantastic difference to the service. Not only was the quality of the stream much better, but now there were no annoying ads – some of which, he said, had proved to be inappropriate for a council to be associated with.
But the real difference for Geoff was in the way that the Public-i Connect system allows him to integrate a wider conversation around the meeting. He said: “It’s the way we can have the social media back channel there, we can have the time stamping so that you linking up to agendas properly. A stream alone, what does it actually give you? I don’t think it gives you enough, but you’ve got to put things into context and that’s what we’re now aiming to do. I hope that the audience is beginning to learn a little bit more about the business of Birmingham City Council as a consequence.”
You can watch the video here to find out more.
Geoff had come to the usergroup to make a presentation about the way Birmingham is using social media with its meetings. You can watch that here.