COLUMBIA — Citizens and other interested parties with high-speed Internet access will be able to watch City Council meetings live on the Internet, effective May 4, 2009.
Dubbed "City Stream," the new service will also provide archived meeting video within 24 hours of a meeting's end. The viewer may choose to watch the entire meeting or click on a link for a specific agenda item to see only the pertinent video. Supporting documents will be available at the same location on the city's Web site, according to a city press release.
Televised broadcasts of City Council meetings on the City Channel will not be affected by this new service.
"Council members have asked for this service for citizens for several years," City Manager Bill Watkins said. "But the cost of buying broadband capacity was excessive, considering the small number of users that could be accommodated at one time."
Newly inducted Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill said the new service was timely.
"People have been missing the broadcast on the City Channel since Mediacom changed the channel, so this will be convenient for people to find it and watch at their leisure," Thornhill said.
Granicus, the vendor chosen to stream the meetings and store archived footage, brought a product to the table with the right features at the right price and serve other government clients, according to the press release.
Public Communications Director Toni Messina said that start-up costs are less than $15,000. There will also be a monthly management fee. Both costs are supported by funding recommended by the Public Communications Resources Advisory Committee and approved by the City Council.
"We applied for funding through the committee's competitive process earlier this year and were very pleased when we got approval," Messina said.
Messina said she hopes this will help the community's vision for a more transparent government process. She hopes to find out if the Internet is helping more citizens get involved and if the service helps them communicate with local officials.
Effective Monday, a link titled "City Council Meetings" in a black bar near the top of the city's home page will take users to the viewing site.