While Birmingham had already experimented with webcasting – via a free service that included advertising – February marked the start of its contract with Public-i and the beginning of a systematic programme of webcasts, including full council, scrutiny meetings and district committees.
The driving force behind the change from a free system to a paid-for one was the council’s leader, Sir Albert Bore. One of the most respected local politicians in the country, Sir Albert wanted to ensure high standards of transparency could be assured as he moved the council to a system of local district committees, to be held centrally in the Council House.
Several months on from that start, Sir Albert has announced that he’s very pleased with how things are working out with the system.
He said: “We started webcasting meetings with Public-i in February this year and the project has been a resounding success. In the first six months we streamed 60 meetings with almost 90,000 views. That figure – an average of 1,500 views per meeting – is significantly higher than attendance figures in the public gallery for a typical council meeting.”
Not only is Birmingham’s leader happy with the way the project is going and the numbers of viewers, but he feels that it is, most significantly, making a real difference. He said: “The Public-i system is easy to use and links to reports and presentations make it easy to view speeches and debates in context. I have no doubt that our new system has increased scrutiny and transparency at Birmingham City Council.”
Obviously, we’re chuffed that Birmingham City Council is so pleased with how things are going – and it hopefully demonstrates to others that webcasting is an essential part of democratic transparency and scrutiny, as Sir Albert clearly believes.
You can read more about this by looking at my previous post, which includes an interview with Birmingham City Council’s media officer, Geoff Coleman, who has been involved in the webcasting project from the start.
If you’d like to find out more about webcasting with Public-i, then please call us on 01273 821 282 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.