Montgomery, NJ – Citizens unable to make it to Montgomery’s public meetings will now be able watch them from anywhere through the comfort of their own desktops, computer tablets or even cell phones.
Beginning this month, the township will be hosting its committee, Planning Board and Zoning Board meetings on the town website, where the meetings will be streamed live — a first in the history of Montgomery.
Before, the town was only posting audio recordings of the Township Committee meetings on the website and increasing its usage of online bulletins to relay information to the public — an effort that began just last year.
Now, a camera that has recently been mounted on the sidewall of the courtroom will record entire meetings under the supervision of technicians.
“We are extremely proud to be making township meetings more accessible to Montgomery residents than ever before,” said Mayor Ed Trzaska. “This was one of our key goals, so we took our time, reviewed many recording options and selected the one that represents the right balance between controlling spending and providing quality services.”
After nearly a year and a half, the committee narrowed down its choices to roughly four options before ultimately selecting the technology and platform of Swagit, a video production company specializing in streaming media solutions.
For the first year, the town will pay $20,000, which covers the cost of the camera and system installation. The second year, costs would drop down to around $6,000 for recording and hosting fees.
Mayor Trzaska confirmed all costs were included in the 2012-2013 budget and that they had planned for everything.
“Over the past year, we investigated numerous options of recorded meetings,” said Mayor Trzaska. “This system is the most cost-effective way to accomplish our goal of improving access and transparency.”
The recordings will also be archived in a way where videos will be matched up to agenda topics — allowing users to jump to the portion they want to watch just by clicking on the video camera icon.
The mayor recommended those interested in learning about local government to watch one of Planning or Zoning Board meetings via the web — a reality made possible thanks to Committeewoman Christine Madrid, who asked to include the Planning and Zoning Board meetings in the initiative.
“Our Planning and Zoning Boards help shape our community and decide how we grow and evolve,” said Mayor Trzaska. “We all wanted to go above and beyond, so we knew Christine’s proposal was worth pursuing.”
Swagit Productions, LLC is a leading video production company specializing in providing streaming media solutions to television stations, newspapers and local government agencies. Swagit pioneered the ‘Hands-Free’ fully automated streaming service plan. This eliminates 100% of the labor required in producing professional and easily accessible streaming videos for meetings and newscasts. For more information about Swagit, please visit: www.swagit.com or call 1-800-573-3160.