New livestream designed to improve viewing of City of Fort Smith board meetings

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 385 views 

The City of Fort Smith has improved livestreaming the Board of Directors meetings. Beginning with the Aug. 15 regular board meeting, meetings will be livestreamed through the city’s newly launched website and on the city’s cable station, Cox channel 214.

One highlight of the new platform is its real-time agenda integration.

“Users now have the ability to follow along seamlessly with the meeting agenda as it unfolds. Additionally, the platform empowers users to easily navigate to specific agenda items when viewing recorded meetings, enhancing the overall user experience. The redesigned user interface is not only more accessible, it is more visually appealing, intuitive, and user-friendly,” the news release said. (Link here for the board meeting page of the city website.)

The board approved resolutions Feb. 17, 2022, for contracts with Granicus, the Denver, Colo.-based company hired in 2021 to build a communications platform and website for the city. In September 2021, the board approved a five-year contract with Granicus for a “Trailblazer” website and “GovDelivery” communications platform for a cost of $78,475. The contract with Granicus includes them providing govMeeting, a government meeting and agenda system for the website, with the city paying $28,152 in 2022; $24,346.64 this year and $25,945.90 in 2024.

With the old system, once meetings are recorded, there is often a significant delay before the meetings can be posted on the city’s website. The govMeeting platform provided by Granicus allows the city to streamline the agenda creation and approval process for staff, making their work flows and presentations to the board more efficient and effective, a memo to the board on the program presented in 2022 said. It allows the board and citizens to access meeting materials on any device.

“Meetings will be digitally recorded, making specific agenda items easily accessed by anyone. Using the govMeetings service will help staff enhance and improve transparency for city documents. Our city clerk, and any other commissions’ support staff, will be able to mark each agenda item on the digital video recording so citizens can quickly and easily access a specific item with one click,” the memo noted.

With the program, anyone can search the city’s agenda section of the website and find in which meetings a topic, like the consent decree or sales tax, was discussed. They will also find the videos from those meetings with a timestamp that tells where in that video to find the discussion, representatives from Granicus told the board.

Granicus will also offer support for live-streaming of city board meetings remotely and will be able to troubleshoot any audio or visual problems immediately during the meeting.

Josh Buchfink, the city’s public relations manager for the City of Fort Smith, said the new system has been used with the current platform for the past two weeks and will be used for the study session Tuesday (Aug. 8).

“The current system does not allow users to easily jump to specific agenda items. With the new platform, the agenda is viewable adjacent to the video while livestreaming a meeting. For recordings, you can easily jump to different agenda items via the ‘index,’ which contains chapter markers for each agenda item,” Buchfink said. “All in all, it is much more intuitive and user-friendly than our previous platform. This new livestreaming service is another way to make important information more accessible to citizens. If someone cannot attend in person, we want their online experience to be first-class.”

Archives for meetings are now more readily available as well, he said. Recordings of each meeting are available on the website within 24 hours, and most of the time it is sooner than that.