Hall Monitor: Two-Point-Oh

Kingston City Council Meetings, #ygkcEvery so often, the Mayor will call a special meeting of council. By definition, these meetings are designed to address on a specific item or items of business. Usually, they’re done when an outside agency is operating on a specific schedule or when council runs too long and needs to complete an agenda. A meeting of this nature was called for Monday, September 24th to discuss some technology updates. Given my work with council and the site, it would have been silly to miss this one – so we were there, streaming and live-tweeting it as usual. You can find the sparse agenda on the city’s website.

The purpose of the meeting was to talk about the soon-to-be-presented technology updates for council chambers. To me, the upgrades come in three parts – all of which interact with each-other for a really exciting change. First, we have new audio/video equipment for presentations. Starting with a multiple-input, multiple source option presentation system. Instead of a small screen set up in the middle of the room, two retractable screens will be set up on the walls behind the mayor’s desk and a pair of new projectors will be mounted on poles from the ceiling on the south side of the sun-globe-light-sphere-thing. Additionally, videos and documents can be selected by the clerk (Or an A/V technician) to be displayed and the room will have speakers mounted for better audio projection.

Second, the chambers are getting a few cameras installed. Not only will this let the city record council (and committee) meetings, but these can also be saved, preserved and even streamed to the web. Yes, I stream some meetings of council, and Cogeco covers regular council meetings (They weren’t at last night’s), but they aren’t preserved by the municipality. Not only would these room cameras be available, but a close-up would be available for each councillor, the Mayor, the clerk and several key members of staff. These feeds would come from new, interactive panels installed at each desk.

The new panels do a few things. First, they replace the current panel, providing each councillor with a microphone that lights up when it’s on – but these new panels do far more. In addition to the previously referenced camera, each panel has a touch screen, can show a duplicate of the presentations on the wall, provides voting tools and a digital speaking list (With timer!). These panels will also recognize who is present (Using proximity cards) and can automatically calculate the pass/fail of a particular vote, including votes that need 2/3 to pass. Councillors would also be provided with tablets (iPads are being considered the front-runner) which will would allow for a more paper-less council and could sync with the councilllor’s panel.

All in all, the upgrades look exciting. They will be presented to council in a clerk’s report next month.

The full tweet stream is below – though the first few are from my own account. The next regular meeting is October 2nd.

  • 6:38 PM : All set up. Stream will be up and running shortly. Meeting has yet to begin. #ygkc
  • 6:39 PM : A special meeting of council tonight. #ygkc (Broadcasting live at
  • 6:40 PM : We’re up and running. Should be good! :) #ygkc
  • 6:42 PM : Tonight’s meeting is about technology; looking at voting devices, cameras, and other devices that council will be using soon. #ygkc
  • 6:43 PM : Intro fro the clerk done. We’re into the briefing from Wayne Rice from city IT. #ygkc
  • 6:44 PM : Tech in council is used for transparency, accountability, collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness. #ygkc
  • 6:46 PM : New technology should be implemented by year-end. #ygkc
  • 6:46 PM : Tech upgrades are one of council’s admin. priorities. Additional planning being done for agenda planning and web streaming and VOD. #ygkc
  • 6:48 PM : Chambers is used for other non-council meetings; complaints about current audio and video options. #ygkc
  • 6:49 PM : We’re watching a youtube video – I’ll try to grab the link. #ygkc
  • 6:52 PM : We’re watching this video on YouTube about the new (potential) devices: http://t.co/epjh516A #ygkc
  • 6:54 PM : New devices can handle speaker queuing, vote recording, meeting details, delegate info, documents (like powerpoint pres.) #ygkc
  • 6:54 PM : Speaker says lighting could be controlled with the devices as well. #ygkc
  • 6:55 PM : New projectors and screens proposed would be mounted on the wall. #ygkc
  • 6:56 PM : Fixed cameras and remote controlled cameras to allow for streaming and VOD of #ygkc and committee meetings. #ygkc
  • 6:57 PM : Separate monitors for Clerk and Mayor. “With PlayStations connected” — @MayorOfKingston #ygkc
  • 7:00 PM : Quick question from Coun. Glover about how screens would attach. Company rep assures they would fit with architecture. #ygkc
  • 7:01 PM : Additional, remote control speakers would be mounted to the walls to allow for audio. #ygkc
  • 7:03 PM : Speaker list would be on the screens; microphones can be time-limited. Mayor can override any of it. #ygkc
  • 7:04 PM : So much for my fourteen-dollar stopwatch –@MayorOfKingston #mayorjokes #ygkc
  • 7:04 PM : Question from Coun. Downes; the chair could use discretion to allow a sentence to be completed. #ygkc
  • 7:05 PM : Clerk: At 5 minutes, your microphone won’t go dead; the mayor still does have some control over speaking management. #ygkc
  • 7:08 PM : Mayor is making comments that he times speakers and keeps them strict because it’s a fair way to ensure everyone has a chance to speak #ygkc
  • 7:10 PM : @JimNeill3 asking about speaker queues; councillors would press a button and be added to the list. #ygkc
  • 7:10 PM : @MayorOfKingston Your mic isn’t on. #ygkc
  • 7:11 PM : Vote count would happen automatically; all votes would now be recorded. #ygkc
  • 7:12 PM : Audio/video can breakout and feed to memorial hall for larger, more popular meetings. #ygkc
  • 7:13 PM : Swapping my live-tweets back over to the @Kingstonist feed. Follow along there! :) #ygkc
  • 7:14 PM : Councillors would be provided with “iPad tablets” for digital documents and agendas. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:14 PM : Q&A about chairs and clerks being cross-trained. Clerk says IT and A//V staff will stay on hand. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:16 PM : @DorothyAHector confirming that members can re-seat anywhere; clerk says that sign-in would be card based. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:18 PM : Staff desks will have devices that interact with the system, but won’t be the same as councillors. A/V feeds go through clerk. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:18 PM : Clerk adds that pre-planned additions, motions and presentations can easily be amended. Archives would be available. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:20 PM : Coun. Glover asking about forgotten login cards. Clerk says that non-councillor cards would be kept with the clerk’s office. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:22 PM : Coun. Glover is asking that tech people begin attending committee meetings to see how they operate. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:23 PM : We’re going into a simulation. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:24 PM : Council is huddling in front of the demo units. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:26 PM : Speaking queues will be available on the small touch screen; and can be displayed on the projectors. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:27 PM : @JimNeill3 asks about interruptions; mayor jokes that there’s also an eject button. System admin can pause time. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:29 PM : Coun. Glover asking about speaking lists; another mode of the software does allow for multiple speaking lists.
  • 7:30 PM : System is limited to two lists; can’t get into an amendment to and amendment to a motion without paper. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:32 PM : Installation is going to happen while council is out-of-chambers in November; several weeks available for training. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:33 PM : Company confirms that mic will not be cut at 5 minutes; system can adapt based on by-law changes. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:37 PM : System will be able to provide guidepoint to where we are in the meeting and can be shown on the projectors. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:40 PM : System allows a bit of flexibility for an accident. Council can hit yes; thencorrect to a no. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:45 PM : Debates and questions about what would be a “recorded vote” now. Results published? Full names? #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:47 PM : Presenter says some cities display the “Who has/hasn’t voted” list live during a vote. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:49 PM : System will automatically determine if a vote passes/fails. Uses a setting for 50% or 2/3; then knows who is/isn’t present. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:53 PM : The system, according to @MayorOfKingston, could make council “truly paperless”. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:56 PM : Council making their way back to the desks for a wrap-up. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:57 PM : Council members seem hesitant about some pieces; overall, seem to be happy with the improvements. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:57 PM : A report on the technology along with design and contract would be in October. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:58 PM : Go live is in January, 2013. #ygkc ^TV
  • 7:59 PM : @JimNeill3 and @MayorOfKingston confirm that communication devices are permitted in chambers (On silent) #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:00 PM : Devices can message each-other; but that feature will be disabled. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:01 PM : Even with this new technology; if a recorded vote is requested, by-law says that it must be read aloud. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:02 PM : @DorothyAHector confirms with the Clerk that the changes to by-law 1 will come forward along with the report. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:03 PM : A quick adjournment since some need to catch trains to Toronto. #ygkc ^TV
  • 8:03 PM : Closing down the feed; thanks for following along. Look for my summary on the site soon! #ygkc ^TV

Thanks to reneilet for today’s original photo.

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