At the end of September, we held two successful online user groups, which focused largely on recent developments in remote participation. These were a great place for exchanging ideas, and we came away with a good understanding of what our clients are looking for in the next tranche of software development. It was hosted using our new hybrid setup with the team at the Public-i offices and the rest of the participants on Connect remote.

hybrid usergroup meeting
Usergroup 2020 hybrid webcast

Two of the key themes which were repeated over both user group sessions were reliability of the platform and accessibility for participants.

Large meetings optimisations

Our servers are very good at holding large meetings. Regular users such as Bradford and Pembrokeshire are reliably able to hold council meetings with 70-90 participants.
We have optimised our apps to use less bandwidth and memory, especially on tablets which are limited in this sense. Users should update to version 20.4.2 of the app to benefit from this optimisation.

We’ve also written documentation with tips for Large meetings on Connect Remote and updated hardware and software requirements in Connect Remote: Technical requirements which should help moderators and IT departments iron out technical issues for their members.

 

Lobby feature

You can now enable a lobby in a Connect Remote meeting which lets you allow or reject members of the public trying to come into the meeting. This can be used at the same time as setting a password on the room. So members of the public need to knock to get into the room but councillors who know the password can just get in. See our documentation for more info:
Connect Remote: Enabling and using the Lobby feature

You can turn on the lobby and/or add a password

Dual language zoom live streams

Our Welsh clients can now stream their live meetings to our platform easily in Welsh and English by using only two laptops. You can read more on our Knowledge base article: Live Stream Dual Language Remote meeting with Zoom

Zoom dual language

Zoom dual-language live stream for Welsh clients

Accessibility in Connect

We have great news on the accessibility front. Our webcast player pages and microsites have been tested by a third party company (ShawTrust) specialised in this domain and we have received accreditation. More info is available on this link: https://www.accessibility-services.co.uk/certificates/public-i/

Development roadmap

From the user groups, we were able to prioritise certain features on our roadmap by getting our clients to vote on them.

User group features vote 2020

Here is what we are working on with tentative dates for release:

Mid to late October

  • Lobby (members of the public to wait in the lobby before being allowed to speak)
  • More client optimisation for large meetings
  • Being able to vote even if your internet connection is dropping

Early November

  • Participants being able to dial into the meeting using a telephone
  • Connecting to the meeting through the corporate network

Late November

  • Hand up feature for those dialling in to the meeting (using number pad)
  • Voting feature for those dialling in to the meeting (using number pad)

December

  • Lobby improvements (lobby participants can follow the proceedings)
  • Vote improvements (check individual votes, share vote results at the end)
  • End-to-end encryption

Early 2021

  • Hybrid meeting queue and vote management
  • Individual invites (added security and deeper integration with Mod.Gov and CMIS)

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