Thursday, December 31, 2009

Council Meetings Go Online

Thanks to the purchase of new software and hardware in December the Pittsburgh City Council will begin posting video of its meetings online starting in January. The meetings will be streamed live from the city’s website and will also be archived for playback. City Clerk Linda Johnson-Wasler says the archived video will have bill numbers embedded into the recordings so users can search council meetings for the topics that interest them rather than having to watch the entire meeting. Councilman Bill Peduto says the goal is to eventually embed data into the video to indicate which council member is speaking to make the data even more research friendly. At the same time, the Clerk’s office will update its web page to allow for easier access to information about the bills. Johnson-Wasler says users will soon be able to sign up to receive updates when action is taken on specific bills. Councilman Bruce Kraus says he is amazed at how many people watch the meetings every week. Currently the meetings are played on the city’s cable channel live and repeated three times later in the week. Krauss says residents want to be able to access the meetings on their schedule not on the city’s schedule. For decades a team of stenographers captured verbatim minutes of the council meetings but that practice ended in 2006 due to budget constraints. Johnson-Wasler says the webcasting will serve as a good replacement for that lost service.

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