The Future of Public Meetings
Digital services have transformed the way that people interact with their government, providing access and information to residents where they are and in the way that is most convenient for them to receive it. One area showing this growth is in engagement with public meetings.
One of the key lessons from the last year’s pandemic crisis has been that, when presented with the right tools, residents want to engage with their government and are more willing to do so. The end result is not just better civic engagement, but a broader impact on the conversations around governance thanks to more active involvement from a wider spectrum of resident voices.
Virtual public meetings are one area that saw this impact specifically, as COVID restrictions forced meetings to be held in ways that balanced safety regulations with access and convenience for residents. The impact of video streaming and sharing through social media saw a widening -opportunity for public involvement and brought new voices into the conversations.
As governments move into a post-pandemic environment, many of the insights gained through solutions developed to meet the crisis, show the path to a permanent digital future for governance, including in the public meeting arena. With new tools coming forward to meet that demand, the combination of open access, security, and convenience will position organizations to create public meetings that are at the forefront of digital civic engagement.
The Next Step in Video Streaming for Public Meetings
Low quality and inaccessible meetings are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. In their place, seamless, dependable, and modern meeting experiences provide a solution to engage a broader audience in a more convenient way. The effort of this digital evolution has fallen, in the early stages, on organization staff: shooting video and uploading it to an online platform for residents to watch and, in some cases, comment on.
Loading meeting videos to YouTube, for example, provides a greater access to public record information, but introduces inconveniences and security issues of its own. Staff must time code topics in the video description, if they even remember to do so, in order for viewers to scan to topics of interest. Supporting documents, resolutions, or other reports often referred to in meetings may not be easily available for viewers to reference when watching a meeting. And internal documents, such as previous minutes, are located in other areas of an organization’s website, taking viewers away from watching a video on YouTube in order to access materials.
While this basic approach offers access, bringing the public meeting to true digital efficiency requires finding enhancements that allow residents to benefit from the experience while reducing the amount of workload required from staff. New solutions, such as those being introduced later this year as part of a reimagined govMeetings solution, allow organizations to conduct worry-free virtual meetings from any platform and involve the public in completely virtual ways via multiple streaming platforms – including a seamless integration with the jurisdiction’s website.
Enhancing the Staff Experience
While the future of public meetings will provide digital enhancements that improve the experience for viewers, platforms such as govMeetings will also continue delivering workflow automations and conveniences to make meeting planning and management more efficient for staff. Delivery of agendas, easy updates to minutes, and convenient resource access for board members are just a few of the ways that digital public meeting tools will continue to maximize efficiency in the coming years.
Effective digital meeting tools do more than provide an intuitive experience built to anticipate and adapt to staff workflow. The products that will help run the public meetings of the future also make voting easier. For many organizations, the pandemic required solutions that made it possible to hold quorum and vote from remote locations.
While many organizations will likely move toward bringing members together in one location as restrictions lift and public health regulations allow, the simple, straightforward participation tools that have emerged as digital meeting solutions will remain and will benefit from enhancements. That means easier push-button technology will allow for members to vote, make a motion, or request to speak more conveniently, while integrating with video streaming for easier ability to track actions.
Innovation Moving Forward
The tools and solutions that empower government organizations to run efficient public meetings with the technology that allows for greater access and transparency will only continue to grow. Over the course of 2021, Granicus will be announcing new enhancements to the govMeetings public meeting platform. These new features will not only help make public meetings easier and more convenient for both staff and residents; they will continue to show ways that technology and public governance can work together for the benefit of all.