The Bloomington City Council has been working on a communications and technology master plan for the streaming and televising of council meetings since 2010. (Ryan Denham/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - With a unanimous vote, Bloomington's City Council approved recording the council meetings Monday night.
The $80,200 contract with Zeller Digital Innovations includes video streaming of council meetings, recording meetings and a display of council votes in the council chambers. Information Services Director Scott Sprouls said the specifics of getting a council meeting on TV hasn't been worked out yet.
"We'll be able to put it out on DVD or flash drive or send it across the internet to them and they will be able to broadcast whatever schedule is agreed upon," Sprouls said.
The agreement with Comcast is still in the works. Sprouls said the system wouldn't require an external company to help with taping or editing, but city staff wouldn't necessarily have the time to edit the meeting.
"A lot of what the system is going to do will depend on us and on council and your recommendations and what you want to see the system do," Sprouls said.
Up to four cameras could be used for the recording and video streaming and the recording will be done in house. The council chambers will also be equipped with TV screens, a DVD player and the screen showing how the aldermen voted. The $80,000 contract breaks down to about $14,000 for the voting presentation, $31,500 for the video presentation and $35,000 for the streaming.
Sprouls said once the meetings are online, there could be an option in the future to index the video so the public can jump back and forth to certain points or discussions. Alderwoman Karen Schmidt asked about server space to store the old council meetings. Sprouls said the city doesn't have a large server, but will probably use an online network such as YouTube for now. He also said the old council meetings could be stored in a Cloud online for archival purposes.
Alderman Rob Fazzini said all the other councils the members visited this year had recorded meetings, including Normal, Peoria, Champaign and more. Mayor Steve Stockton said the city may be a late comer, but it now has the latest technology.
"There's been a lot of thought that goes into this and this uses some new technology that's just become available, so in some ways we were fortunate that we were able to wait," Stockton said.
Alderwoman Judy Stearns, who has advocated for the televising of council meetings since she was seated on the council, said she thinks the recording will help the public understand.
Installation will start in the coming weeks, with streaming slated by the end of the year and televised meetings wanted by February.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.