Case Study

Hybrid meetings for local authorities

City of Wolverhampton Council

Case Study

Hybrid meetings for local authorities

City of Wolverhampton Council

Wolverhampton crest

An interview with Julia Cleary, the Scrutiny and Systems manager of the City of Wolverhampton Council, about the integration of hybrid meetings

Background

The City of Wolverhampton Council have been using Public-i since 2017 to webcast all full council meetings. Following the introduction of strict rules around holding meetings face to face due to the pandemic, our Council leaders were keen to introduce hybrid meeting functionality to the Council Chamber and to hold a hybrid full council meeting in September 2020.

Planning the system

The Scrutiny and Systems Manager contacted Public-i in July 2020 to enquire as to the feasibility of installing an AV hybrid solution into the existing solution in the Council Chamber. This would allow the Council to webcast meetings from both the Chamber and an online Microsoft Teams meeting. A meeting was arranged for the next day with representatives from Public-i to discuss options.

Wolverhampton city council room

City of Wolverhampton council room

The first stage was to arrange a site visit for an engineer to understand the current set up and exactly how much work would be required. One of the main issues we had was that the existing AV equipment, including the microphones and TV screens were managed by an external company and it was vital to ensure that all interested parties were included in the initial conversation as any changes had the potential to affect the equipment managed by them. ICT, facilities management and the external contractors were all communicated with prior to the initial site visit.

Given the unusual circumstances it was vital to have additional Covid 19 risk assessments in place which Public-i were able to provide straight away.

Originally it was thought that having the install ready for 16 September full council meeting was overly ambitious but Public-i were able to move work around to try and accommodate our request and an install date of Monday 7 to Tuesday 8 September was agreed.

Implementation

The engineer was on site when I arrived, along with our account manager who had personally travelled to collect a piece of equipment and delivered it to the Council building, he repeated this the next day too, travelling miles to ensure that the install could go ahead as planned.

Wolverhampton rack

Audio Visual rack before the installations

It soon became apparent that two days was not going to be sufficient to complete the build to the required standard and again, our account manager was able to rearrange other commitments to allow the engineer to remain on site for the entire week.

On the penultimate day, there were still some concerns in relation to the sound quality and Public-i were able to provide us with a sound technician on the last day to help address these issues. The sound tech was brilliant and she managed to sort out not only the current issues but a number of historic issues that we had been unable to pinpoint the source of.

Testing and system use

On the final day the system was tested multiple times and we set up a number of test meetings with staff joining in the Council Chamber and through a Teams meeting to ensure that we were at ease with using the system and that everything was working seamlessly, the sound technician and engineer remained on site until all of this testing was complete. The training was provided on site but in reality little training was required as the operating processes were very similar to what had been the case previously.

It worked wonderfully. It’s really good kit: really easy to use and everyone seemed impressed with it

Next steps?

We are currently assessing all our existing meeting rooms and the facilities in them to ensure that they are fully future proofed and able to meet streaming demands going forward.

Visit City of Wolverhampton Council site
Wolverhampton crest

An interview with Julia Cleary, the Scrutiny and Systems manager of the City of Wolverhampton Council, about the integration of hybrid meetings

Background

The City of Wolverhampton Council have been using Public-i since 2017 to webcast all full council meetings. Following the introduction of strict rules around holding meetings face to face due to the pandemic, our Council leaders were keen to introduce hybrid meeting functionality to the Council Chamber and to hold a hybrid full council meeting in September 2020.

Planning the system

The Scrutiny and Systems Manager contacted Public-i in July 2020 to enquire as to the feasibility of installing an AV hybrid solution into the existing solution in the Council Chamber. This would allow the Council to webcast meetings from both the Chamber and an online Microsoft Teams meeting. A meeting was arranged for the next day with representatives from Public-i to discuss options.

Wolverhampton city council room

City of Wolverhampton council room

The first stage was to arrange a site visit for an engineer to understand the current set up and exactly how much work would be required. One of the main issues we had was that the existing AV equipment, including the microphones and TV screens were managed by an external company and it was vital to ensure that all interested parties were included in the initial conversation as any changes had the potential to affect the equipment managed by them. ICT, facilities management and the external contractors were all communicated with prior to the initial site visit.

Given the unusual circumstances it was vital to have additional Covid 19 risk assessments in place which Public-i were able to provide straight away.

Originally it was thought that having the install ready for 16 September full council meeting was overly ambitious but Public-i were able to move work around to try and accommodate our request and an install date of Monday 7 to Tuesday 8 September was agreed.

Implementation

The engineer was on site when I arrived, along with our account manager who had personally travelled to collect a piece of equipment and delivered it to the Council building, he repeated this the next day too, travelling miles to ensure that the install could go ahead as planned.

Wolverhampton rack

Audio Visual rack before the installations

It soon became apparent that two days was not going to be sufficient to complete the build to the required standard and again, our account manager was able to rearrange other commitments to allow the engineer to remain on site for the entire week.

On the penultimate day there were still come concerns in relation to the sound quality and Public-i were able to provide us with a sound technician on the last day to help address these issues. The sound tech was brilliant and she managed to sort out not only the current issues but a number of historic issues that we had been unable to pinpoint the source of.

Testing and system use

On the final day the system was tested multiple times and we set up a number of test meetings with staff joining in the Council Chamber and through a Teams meeting to ensure that we were at ease with using the system and that everything was working seamlessly, the sound technician and engineer remained on site until all of this testing was complete. The training was provided on site but in reality little training was required as the operating processes were very similar to what had been the case previously.

It worked wonderfully. It’s really good kit: really easy to use and everyone seemed impressed with it

Next steps?

We are currently assessing all our existing meeting rooms and the facilities in them to ensure that they are fully future proofed and able to meet streaming demands going forward.

Visit City of Wolverhampton Council site